HomeLeadership LearningsTime-to-hire hits an all-time high: Who is beating the curve and how are they doing it?

Time-to-hire hits an all-time high: Who is beating the curve and how are they doing it?

  • 6 Min Read

It’s taking longer than ever to hire the right people. Janet Mertens, Head of Research, The Josh Bersin Company, dives into the latest research on time-to-hire and shares advice for HR leaders

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Time-to-hire has hit an all-time high, now sitting at an average of 44 days, based on our recent global research.

Note the term ‘average’. Time-to-hire is industry- and region-specific, resulting in companies filling some vacancies in 14 days, while some other roles remain open for up to three months. Business leaders need to be aware of the factors that influence time-to-hire and plan their talent strategies accordingly.

For example, a professional services firm’s HR team aiming to onboard someone will likely need a timeframe of 47 days, which is three days longer than the market standard. In the energy and defence sectors, some companies must expect a period of at least 67 days to replace a specialist who’s left. And it comes as no surprise that across all industries, research shows a widening gap between easy-to-fill and difficult-to-fill roles.

Chances are, you’ve personally experienced the impact of time-to-hire on your organization from ongoing professional experience. For this article, my team and I seek to understand the current landscape, uncover why hiring’s harder than it’s ever been, and how to emulate the time-to-hire pacesetters who get it right.

How to emulate time-to-hire pacesetters

In a seemingly unalterable hiring landscape, HR leaders and Recruitment Directors undoubtedly wonder if there are any measures they can take to address these challenges. Is it possible for organizations to optimize their recruiting practices?

The encouraging news is that strategy can make a significant impact, according to our analyses of job market trends and conversations with organizations that are winning the time-to-hire battle.

Employers can compare their own time-to-hire targets and outcomes with their industry peers, by geographical region and by job category. This insight can empower them to make informed decisions that lead to a substantial reduction in the expanding recruitment timeline.

To begin, you must be open to looking at talent from a different perspective. In fact, the most successful companies—we call them ‘pacesetters’—already think about talent in a strategic and systemic way. Here are four methods that ‘pacesetters’ apply which break the boundaries of traditional talent acquisition:

1. Build a talent ecosystem

Pacesetter organizations accept that a) jobseekers and employees are in the driver’s seat, and b) traditional talent strategies like building small pipelines of candidates or taking months to hire are no longer dependable.

They are open to working with an expert third-party specialists (known as ‘RPO’, recruitment process outsourcers) and talent acquisition (TA) tech vendors to optimize these processes as much as possible. These leading companies are also heavily invested in strengthening their TA teams. They are developing recruiters into strategic talent advisors through job rotation, cross-functional assignments and formal training.

2. Look at your existing in-house talent pool

Our research also shows external hiring costs up to 18% more than managing it internally, yet we found less than 25% of employers know how to fully leverage their existing talent pool.

Pacesetter companies address the barriers to mobility and explore new hiring streams. These include current employees interested seeking new opportunities, gig and contract workers who show potential for long-term retention, and former trusted team members that the company could rehire.

3. Embrace data and automation

Moving ahead, talent intelligence will play an increasingly critical role in shaping jobs, identifying skill gaps, and defining sourcing strategies. Embrace a pacesetter mindset and begin exploring the use of AI, automation, and predictive analytics to enhance your HR processes, drive efficiencies, and optimise the overall hiring experience.

4. And finally, take a systemic approach

Inflation, hybrid work, and a long-term labour shortage have created a complex environment. At the same time, hiring alone will not solve the talent gap you face, regardless of industry. Instead, seamlessly integrate recruitment, retention, development, pay, goal setting, and management should be seamlessly integrated–creating systemic talent strategies.

Pacesetters approach talent management in a systematic way. It’s time you adopted a similar approach–unless you want to endure a three-month wait to get the help your company urgently needs in today’s tough climate.

What the research tells us about time-to-hire

As part of our research, global talent solutions provider AMS conducted a deep analysis of 500,000 data points. Their findings showed that such prolonged hiring periods are unsustainable if companies are to remain competitive and keep pace with the fast-changing needs of their respective industries.

Understandably, different sectors of the economy are experiencing different recruitment pressures. It has become exceptionally difficult to replace people in the energy and defence, and regrettably this market is projected to experience even slower time-to-hire rates in 2023.

In contrast, the retail and consumer goods sectors experienced the shortest time-to-hire rates in 2022, possibly a reflection of the global reopening of retail facilities and supply chains post pandemic or a broader availability of qualified prospective candidates. Similarly, transportation exhibited the shortest range in hiring time, suggesting a relative stability in recruiting people to these open positions.

Meanwhile, if you’re trying to bring new talent into your investment bank, you need to expect a waiting period ranging from 21 days to over two months to successfully complete the onboarding process at this time.

The impact of industry and geography on time-to-hire dynamics

Undoubtedly, the industry most definitely influences the challenges in hiring new employees in a timely manner, and the nature of the role available in an organization also plays a crucial role. The professional services industry offers a helpful example of this possible discrepancy: while filling high-priority skilled roles takes about 47 days (which is well above the average time-to-hire in the broader market), easier-to-hire jobs in the sector close in a much shorter average timeframe of 25 days.

Our research also highlights the impact of geography on time-to-hire dynamics. The extensive analysis of real-world data suggests that, although the average time-to-hire is set to drop to 34 days in North America, the process of hiring in Europe, APAC and Latin America will be increasingly difficult and volatile this year.

A significant factor driving this trend is, of course, the fact that some roles are currently more challenging to fill than others. Unsurprisingly, IT and Tech roles have been very hard to hire for the last several years and our research revealed that in 2022, the hardest-to-fill job descriptions could require close to 70 days for certain organizations.

Conversely, the research shows that last year if you advertised for a sales and marketing professional, you could likely find a qualified candidate far more quickly than a lot of other specialties. Even in this historical bright spot, however, the number of openings is expected to rise in such roles and hiring times will also likely increase this year.


The author is Janet Mertens, Senior Vice President of Research at the Josh Bersin Company, the world’s most-trusted global human capital advisory firm.

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