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Your Hiring Pulse report for March 2023

In February’s Hiring Pulse, we touched on what’s now becoming a broken record: the surging candidates per hire trend that has been happening since mid-2022.

Keith MacKenzie
Keith MacKenzie

Passionate about human resources, employment, and business management, and an expert at sharing that expertise.

Hiring Pulse

We also took a deep dive into five select industries in our dataset and found that the recent surge in the Candidates Per Hire trend isn’t universal – some industries, in fact, are still struggling to hire. This isn’t a huge surprise.

But one thing we do know: recent layoffs are concentrated in the SaaS world, and CPH is rising meteorically as a result.

This month’s Hiring Pulse is going to be a short one. Of course, February only has 28 days and that’s the latest month in our dataset. Nevertheless, this report still packs a punch. Let’s get started!

How we’re looking at data

We’ve adopted two methodologies in how we look at the Hiring Pulse dataset. For Time to Fill and Candidates per Hire, we’re measuring each month using the average of 2019, the last “normal” year, as a baseline index of 100.

For job openings, we’re taking a different route – simply, the average number of job postings per company. This gives us the opportunity to gauge overall recruitment activity and whether that’s going up or down.
Want a more detailed methodology? Jump to the end and check it out.

As always, we look at the worldwide trends for three common SMB hiring metrics:

  • Time to Fill (TTF)
  • Total Job Openings (JO) 
  • Candidates per Hire (CPH)

Let’s start analyzing!

Don’t miss the pulse

This is part of a series of monthly hiring trend reports for SMBs that go out on the first Tuesday of every month. Sign up for our newsletter for regular updates!

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Main highlights

The three main highlights for this month’s Hiring Pulse are:

  • Candidates per Hire climbed for the eighth straight month – but this time, the jump from the previous month is higher than we’ve seen in a long, long time
  • The CPH trend has come full circle and is now higher than its previous peak two years ago
  • Small businesses (with <50 full-time employees) are continuing to hire at a brisk pace

1. Time to Fill

For this report, Workable defines “Time to Fill” as the number of days from when a new job is opened to when that job opening is filled. It’s important to understand that definition: jobs that are still open as of the end of February are not included in this graph as they don’t yet have an “end date”. Only the jobs that are filled are included here.

Quick clarification, because people are asking: the data in this chart shows the trendline against the 2019 average as an index of 100, not the actual number of days in TTF.

Got that? Good. Let’s have a look at the monthly TTF trend throughout 2022 against the average of 2019, based on jobs that have been filled:

In January, the TTF trend spiked after a steady decline throughout most of 2022. But a January spike in TTF is completely and totally normal.

And in February, the TTF score dropped from 90.8 in January to 86.8 in February. Again, totally normal.

For every year dating back to 2020, there’s always a drop from January to February in terms of TTF. Here’s what that looked like for each of the three previous years:

  • 2020: 102 in January and 97.3 in February
  • 2021: 95.6 in January and 88.6 in February
  • 2022: 97.4 in January and 90.9 in February

This is not a lot to write home about, honestly. Things are ‘normal’ here. So, let’s move on to the job opening data.

2. Total Job Openings

Total job openings represent the total number of job openings activated across the entire Workable network.

As stated above, we’re displaying this as an average of job postings per company in the network. And because this is not contingent on job opened/filled dates like TTF and Candidates per Hire, we can simply look at the raw job open numbers up to the end of February.

Again, we have a relatively robust month for job activity with 6.7 jobs per company on average in the network, up just a notch from January’s 6.6.

To put that in perspective, job posting activity remained steady in the latter part of last year, alternating between a low of 6.1 and a high of 6.3 from June through to November before the predicted holiday-season drop to 5.2 for December.

That of course differs based on company size. So let’s break the data down into those buckets.

Larger companies running against the norm

The big jump in job openings for companies with 200 or more full-time employees kind of continues. But while it remains high, February shows a drop to 17 jobs per company on average, down from 18.5 in January.

In past years dating back to the beginning of our dataset, job postings in February were always higher than January for those larger companies. This year, it’s the opposite.

Medium is closer to the median

Last month, we highlighted a modest bump in average job postings for medium-sized businesses (51-200 FTEs) from December to January. It’s now stabilized through February with 5.6 job postings per mid-sized company, down a smidgen from 5.7 in January.

That’s about as stable as can be, considering that over the six months ending February, the busiest month for job postings was 5.8 in September and the quietest month was 5.3 in December.

In past years, the change from January to February differs from one year to the next – but not by much. So, for mid-sized companies, 2023 isn’t anomalous so far.

Small but lively

Last month, we marveled at how those businesses in the 1-50 FTE bracket were posting jobs at an unprecedented rate – in short, higher in January than at any other time in our dataset.

And now? Small businesses are even more active in the hiring space in February, with 4.7 job postings on average compared with January’s 4.2. That’s a 12% jump.

For context: in 2020, February’s job posting average was nearly 5% lower than in January. In 2021 and 2022, February was relatively unchanged from January.

Let’s keep an eye on this interesting trendline going forward. Now, let’s look at who’s applying for these jobs.

3. Candidates per Hire

Workable defines the number of candidates per hire (CPH) as, succinctly, the number of applicants for a job up to the point of that job being filled. Again, remember, this is a trendline using the 2019 CPH average as a baseline of 100, not the actual number of candidates per hire.

Now that Let’s look at what’s going on here through February:

We’re going to look at two full years of data here dating back to January 2021, because the CPH trend is probably the most compelling trendline right now. It starts at a high point in February 2021 at 128 and declines sharply to 84.2 a year later in January 2022.

The trend stays relatively stable for the next six months after January 2022, and then skyrockets from 91 in July 2022 to a staggering 142.3 this last February.

That means a 56% increase in the CPH trend in an eight-month span. And that increase seems to be accelerating.

For instance, the highest MoM increase before 2023 in this chart was 16.8 points from July to August last year.

And now, we see an 18.1-point increase from January to February.

We know all about the Great Resignation. We’ve written plenty about the Great Discontent (and we have a new survey report coming in that area – stay tuned!).

Now? We’re looking at the Great Resurgence when it comes to sheer number of candidates.

What’s going on here?

In last month’s Pulse, we took a deep dive into five select industries in our dataset, each of them with different numbers.

We found that Software as a Service led in terms of the CPH trend, along with Diversified Financials and Media & Entertainment as significant industries experiencing (enjoying? enduring?) a deluge of talent.

Meanwhile, companies in the Hospitals & Healthcare industry sat near the bottom of the CPH spectrum, seeing fewer candidates for their jobs than most other industries. Other industries near the bottom include Retail, Banks, and Consumer Services.

And, on the topic of growing CPH, we saw this interesting insight from LinkedIn, courtesy of Dominic Joyce, Head of Talent Acquisition at Travelex:

In short, next to layoffs and turnover, maybe the one-click apply option is a reason you’re seeing more candidates in your inbox.

To Dominic’s point, some of those may be “lazy” applications. Not all of them, of course – but some of them at least.

This doesn’t mean you should not have easy-apply options – those are appreciated at large by candidates and they have a very valuable purpose. Rather, having more candidates highlights the importance of having a good filtering system in place – one that brings those ideal candidates to the forefront of your application pile.

And, of course, a reliable selection process free of breakdowns even when candidate volume grows exponentially.

That’s especially important right now with a shorter Time to Fill (which means more competitive hiring). That’s also important if you’re hiring in an industry that’s seeing a lot of change and turnover – like in SaaS, for instance.

Just food for thought. See you next month…

Thoughts, comments, disagreements? Send them to [email protected], with “Hiring Pulse” in the subject heading. We’ll share the best feedback in an upcoming report. Watch for our next Hiring Pulse in February!

The Hiring Pulse: Methodology

Because one of the three metrics (Job Openings) is different from the other two metrics (Time to Fill and Candidates per Hire), we’re adopting two very distinct methodologies.

To bring the best insights to small and medium (and enterprise-level) businesses worldwide, here’s what we’re doing with the Job Openings metric: we’re taking the number of job openings in a given month and dividing that by the number of active companies in our dataset, and posting that as an average. For example, if July 2022 shows the average Job Openings per company as 7.7, that simply means each company posted an average of 7.7 jobs that month.

For the Time to Fill and Candidates per Hire metrics, we’re comparing a specific month’s trend against the full average of 2019, and we show the result using that 2019 average as a baseline index of 100. For example, if July 2022 shows an average Time to Fill of 30 days for all jobs, and the monthly average for all of 2019 is 28, we present the result for July 2022 as 107.1 – in other words, 7.1% higher than the average of 2019.

And we chose 2019 as the baseline because, frankly, that’s the last normal year before the pandemic started to present challenges to data analysis among other things.

The majority of the data is sourced from businesses across the Workable network, making it a powerful resource for SMBs when planning their own hiring strategy.

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