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Time to Fill: What It Is, Why Use It and How to Calculate It

With the changing labor market, it’s important that HR can track and monitor how quickly and efficiently an empty job position is filled in their organization. This is especially true for hard-to-fill job roles during a competitive labor market with known talent shortages.

For these reasons, Time to Fill is often included in the shortlist of most important recruiting metrics that every HR team should measure, track, and benchmark.

This guide will tell you everything you need to know about Time to Fill, how to calculate it, and how you can best use this metric in reports and analyses.

Table of Contents

What is Time to Fill?

Time to Fill measures the number of days it takes to fill an open position, from the date a job requisition is posted to the date a new hire accepts the position. This metric is often expressed as an average number of days when divided by the total number of hires or positions filled.

Organizations typically measure Time to Fill for externally hired positions as internal hiring requires different processes with different ranges of performance.

Why Measuring Time to Fill

There are several benefits to knowing your Time to Fill:

  1. Time to Fill provides a quick reference point on how long it would take to fill an empty position.

  2. Time to Fill acts as a key performance indicator (KPI) or running score for your recruiting operations.

  3. Time to Fill serves as an excellent forecasting variable and a valuable input metric for talent strategies.

Time to Fill vs. Time to Start

If Time to Fill is an indicator of how efficient a recruiting team is at filling an empty position start, Time to Start is the efficiency measurement of the entire recruiting process from the date a job becomes vacant till the date a new hire finishes the onboarding process and start the new position.

You can visualize the differences and see a side-to-side definition comparison between Time to Fill and Time to Start below:

The differences between Time to Fill and Time to Start

Time to Start: Total number of calendar days from the date a job becomes vacant to the date a new hire starts work in the new position.


Time to Fill: Total number of calendar days from the date a job requisition is posted to the date a new hire accepts the position.

How to Calculate Time to Fill

Definition: Total number of calendar days from the date a job requisition is posted to the date a new hire accepts the position, expressed as an average number of days when divided by the total number of hires or positions filled.

Time to Fill's formula

Examples of Using Time to Fill to Make Better Workforce Decisions

Example 1: Benchmark with Peers and Industry Average

According to SHRM’s Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Report, the average Time to Fill is 36 days. Note that the average Time to Fill differs substantially between industries, types of positions, and hiring locations. Some positions have a smaller talent pool and therefore naturally take longer to fill.

For example, the current skilled nursing shortage makes it hard for healthcare providers and hospitals to recruit bedside RN nurses. The average Time to Fill for this role is 54 days which is significantly higher than the 36 days cited in SHRM’s report.

There is also a big gap between the top and bottom-performing teams. While it takes the top-performing recruiting teams on average just 34 days to fill an empty position, the bottom teams take as much as 91 days to accomplish the same task.

Example 2: Cross-compare Time to Fill with Other Metrics for Additional Insights

No single metric could tell the whole story of your recruiting operations. Time to Fill is no exception. The quality of new hires, cost per hire, and retention rate are just as important to recruiting performance as how quickly an empty position is being filled.

We recommend that HR cross-compares Time to Fill with other employee metrics such as quality of hire metrics or indices, engagement scores, and retention rates for better insights into the talent pipelines.

In the below example, you can see that Time to Fill is growing slowly over time. Taking one or two extra days to fill an empty position would not be a big concern if recruits are highly engaged and more likely to stay. In this case, not only is Time to Fill taking longer, but the average Retention Rate is also taking a big dip. This should be a warning sign that HR needs to take a closer look and examine what might have caused these issues.

Time to Fill vs. Retention Rate

Example 3: Discover additional Insights by Filtering Time to Fill by various Workforce Dimensions

As illustrated in Time to Start, we recommend that HR filter Time to Fill by measurement dimensions such as workforce category, critical job groups, business unit, and performance category. In doing so, management can use Time to Fill as a predictor of improved recruiting operations, increased workforce productivity, and lowered total cost of workforce.

HR Analytics Software like SOLVE™️ can make this process quick and easy with data automation and dynamic filtering.

Below is an example of the Time to Fill and Retention Rate at the Job category level:

SOLVE Filters Time to Fill by Workforce Category

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