Cut & Polish

2022 Recruiting Benchmarks: 52 Metrics to Guide Your Hiring Strategy

Last week Gem hosted a webinar with Amy Wood, our Senior Director of Recruiting Operations, and Danielle Belanger, Director of Talent Acquisition Operations at Toast, to talk about why benchmarks matter, share some key data points we’ve found in our research, and discuss how they can help you answer questions like: 

  • How long should it take to hire a role based on your industry/company size?
  • How many applicants do you need to make one hire in a given department?
  • What does a good job offer acceptance rate look like?
  • What are average open and reply rates for prospect outreach?
  • What are the average conversion rates for each stage of the recruiting funnel?
  • How do these numbers differ by industry, department, location, gender, and race/ethnicity?

In this article, we’ve compiled key recruiting stats and benchmarks from the webinar and expert commentary from our hosts to help make sense of all the data (you can also watch the webinar here). 

Why do benchmarks matter?

It’s tough to win a race if you don’t know where the other competitors are. The same goes for recruiting. Benchmarks let you compare your organization with others, report your progress to business leaders, and set realistic goals based on data rather than gut feelings. In addition, benchmarks provide relevant context for your data, allow you to make stronger recommendations to your stakeholders, and can completely change the nature of hiring conversations.

Amy Wood: “At a past company I was running a technical recruiting team, and my hiring managers were very concerned about our (seemingly) low offer acceptance rate. However, this was because we were looking at our tech offer acceptance rate in relation to the company-wide rate. When we pulled data on offer acceptance rates for technical roles in our industry, we found that our rates were actually much better than expected.” 

Where did we get our recruiting benchmark data? 

To get our benchmark data, we looked at our extensive customer database. We drew data points from more than 12 million candidates who entered process and 2.2 million outreach sequences, over a period from September 2021 to March 2022. 

Specifically, we looked at metrics like: 

  • Outreach stats
  • Time to hire
  • Passthrough rates
  • Offer accept rates

Recruiting outreach stats

Outreach is responsible for attracting the best candidates, getting them interested in your organization, and convincing them to take an interview. For purposes of this study, we looked specifically at three-stage sequences in which a recruiter sent one initial email, InMail, etc., and two additional follow-up messages. We chose three-stage sequences because we saw the highest rate of return on these types of sequences (reply rates tend to drop off after three messages).  

Outreach message open rates

The first step in tracking outreach success is looking at open rates. Across all industries, company sizes, etc., the average open rate for a three-stage sequence was 80%, a slight drop from last year’s 81% open rate. Response rates were lowest for sales and engineering roles (77-79%) and highest for design and product roles (85%).

While open rates for both male- and female-identified talent were the same—80% across the board, male-identified talent received 2.3x more outreach than female-identified talent did. The biggest volume disparity was found among engineering and eng manager roles, where email outreach was sent nearly 3x more often to male talent than it was to female talent.

Danielle Belanger: “Looking at these open rates by role, I’m not surprised that both sales & eng have the lowest rates. The competition and push for talent in these areas is huge. At Toast, we’re starting to spend more time digging into the types of outreach that drive better engagement and figuring out how to replicate that. We’re not always going to get it right on the first try, but measuring success and experimenting are our best friends here.”

Outreach message reply rates by org size

There are many factors that influence a candidate’s decision to reply to a recruiter’s outreach messages, but we’ve found company size to be a big one. The overall reply rate for outreach messages was 22%, down from 28% this time last year; however, this number varied by company size. Enterprise-level companies of 1000+ full-time employees (FTEs) had a 29% reply rate to their outreach messages. However, the reply rate dropped to 20% for mid-size organizations of 249-999 FTEs and came down to only 11% for small companies of 1-249 FTEs. 

Danielle Belanger: “Decreased open rate is a sign of the competitive market. More companies, regardless of size, are investing in tools like Gem to facilitate passive outreach, so prospects are receiving more messages than ever. This means that sourcers and recruiters have to do more work to get the same number of candidates into their hiring funnels. These reply rates also show the impact talent brand can have on your recruitment strategy. Crafting personalized messages that are catered to each individual will help you stand out among the sea of outreach candidates are receiving.” 

Outreach message reply rates by role and industry

Not surprisingly, reply rates have a direct correlation with open rates for outreach messages. We saw the highest reply rates among product and design roles, while we saw the lowest reply rates for sales and engineering roles. In addition, we saw the highest reply rate among FinTech companies and the lowest reply rates at Healthcare orgs. 

When looking at these reply rate benchmarks, keep in mind that when you’re analyzing your own data, nuances in the recruiting process—such as the type of role and industry you’re in—can play a huge part in goal-setting, capacity planning, recruiter workload, and more.

Danielle Belanger: “When sourcing for any role in any industry, it's important to factor in benchmarks when thinking about filling your pipeline with passive talent. Let's take the sales role benchmark with a 20% reply rate—if you want to bring five passive candidates to a final onsite interview next month, you should be sending outreach to 50 potential prospects in a Gem project. Setting outreach goals based on benchmarks is helpful to ensure you have the right top-of-funnel traction to reach bottom-of-funnel goals.”

Reply rates by gender

Overall we saw that women were 9% less likely to respond to emails and 12% less likely to respond to InMails than their male counterparts, even though the open rate was the same. Looking at the graph below, you’ll notice that the overall reply rate for men across all industries was actually around 29%, and the reply rate for women was 22.5%. This was due to the higher number of Engineering and Sales sequences sent by Gem users skewing the reply rates lower. 

Outreach reply rate benchmarks

  • Email → Male 23% / Female 21%
  • InMail → Male 44% / Female 39%
  • Both combined → Male 25% / Female 23% 

When we break things down by role and gender, we see some interesting differences in reply rates:

  • Engineering Manager - Women (16%) / Men (24%) → 8% difference
  • Data - Women (26%) / Men (34%) → 8% difference
  • Product - Women (27%) / Men (34%) → 7% difference
  • Design - Women (23%) / Men (29%) → 7% difference
  • Marketing - Women (23%) / Men (30%) → 7% difference
  • Sales - Women (17%) / Men (21%) → 5% difference
  • Recruiting / HR - Women (25%) / Men (30%) → 5% difference

Number of outreach messages sent

Gem customers are able to double their reply rates by sending follow-up outreach messages. One outreach message saw an 11% reply rate, two messages saw a 20% reply rate, and three messages saw a 22% overall reply rate. 

Amy Wood: “One of the reasons passive sourcing is so effective is that it’s not a one-and-done strategy. As a sourcer or recruiter, you’re building relationships with each message you send. Having the right automation in place can make sending three emails to a candidate as easy as sending one.”

Time to hire

Time to hire looks at the number of days it takes a candidate to pass through the entire hiring funnel. The clock starts as soon as a candidate is entered into an applicant tracking system (ATS) and ends when they accept a job offer. This metric is critical because, in a competitive market, the time it takes to move a candidate through your hiring funnel can make or break their decision to accept your offer. We found that the median time to hire across all company types was 23 days, up from 18 days over the same period last year.  

Comparing this data to last year, one interesting thing we found was that the time to get a candidate into the interview process (take an interview) was shorter, but the time spent in the hiring process was longer.   

Danielle Belanger: “This increase in time to hire may be indicative of the human element of the recruiting process. Changing jobs/careers is a big, potentially life-changing decision for candidates—they have to weigh the pros and cons, talk to mentors, etc., to decide if it’s the right step for their career growth.”

Time to hire by company size

Since last year, there have been no major changes in hiring time for small to medium-sized companies. Small companies (1-249 FTEs) saw a 21-day median time to hire, which was the same as last year, and medium-sized companies (250-999 FTEs) saw a 23-day median time to hire—down one day from last year. However, we saw a massive jump in time to hire for large organizations (1000+ FTEs) at 22 days—an eight-day increase from the same period last year.   

Amy Wood: “Looking at a birds-eye view of the macroeconomics, larger—and especially recently IPO’d—companies move a lot slower when it comes to hiring than small and medium-sized orgs.” 
Danielle Belanger: “This is indicative of the candidate-driven market we find ourselves in. When it comes to hiring, larger organizations have lost a little bit of their competitive advantage when candidates have more opportunities than ever before.”

Time to hire by industry

When we look at median days to hire by industry, we see that time to hire in healthcare has decreased by 44% and is now only five days compared to nine last year. On the other hand, both the tech and financial sectors have seen increases in time to hire since last year. Tech is up 56% from last year, putting the median time to hire at 25 days, and finance is up 12.5% to 36 days

Amy Wood: “The decrease in time to hire we’ve seen in healthcare can largely be attributed to the need for essential workers over the past year. Tech and finance are likely more localized issues that have to be addressed on an individual company basis—looking at the time to hire by role, department, recruiter, etc., will allow you to identify and address where the sticking points may be in your own hiring funnel.”

Time to hire by role type

Overall, we found that technical roles (engineering, data, etc.) have a significantly higher median time to hire than non-tech roles. However, this year saw increases in both role types. The median time to hire for technical positions was 39 days, a two-day increase from the previous year, and the time to hire for non-technical roles was 20 days, a nine-day jump from last year. 

Amy Wood: “As you’re building your recruiting strategy, it’s important to think about where core processes can stay the same and where they differ—and thinking about how much longer it can take to hire a technical role could impact everything from the number of recruiters you hire, to how you plan your capacity, to the SLAs that you set with the business. Using these benchmarks is key to setting realistic hiring goals.”
Danielle Belanger: “Most organizations require one or more technical assessments, coding tests, whiteboard, etc., which will continue to drive the disconnect in time to hire between the two roles. TA leaders should take these assessments into account when capacity planning—understanding that they will inevitably slow down the hiring process, and also working to ensure they are unbiased, fair, and equitable.” 

Passthrough rates

Passthrough rates are an incredibly valuable metric as they can immediately draw attention to specific opportunities to optimize your funnel. On average, we found that it takes 74 candidates to make one hire (this may seem like a lot, but this is down from 89 candidates last year). And a critical factor in bringing the number of top-of-funnel candidates down is improving your passthrough rates.

Passthrough benchmarks:

  • Application created: 100%
  • Pre-onsite: 11%
  • Onsite interview: 34%
  • Offer: 45%
  • Hires: 81%
Amy Wood: “When I look at these numbers at the top of the funnel, it makes me realize how important it is to build relationships and nurture your database of candidates so you aren’t starting from scratch with every new role. In the past, we’ve uncovered big opportunities to streamline the interview process when we identified stages that weren’t filtering enough folks through the funnel—this benchmark will give us all a starting point as we analyze what a “healthy” pass-through rate should be for each stage.”
Danielle Belanger: “At Toast, we use passthrough benchmarks to look at how our interview process is vetting out high-quality candidates, but we also use them in conversations around interviewer capacity and headcount planning. What does it look like when we have to hire ten people or 100 people? Do we have enough recruiters, interviewers, etc., to meet our hiring goals in the next quarter, six months, or year?” 

Passthrough rates by source

Here’s where things get interesting when thinking about sourcing. We found that passively sourced candidates (including referrals) were approximately four times more likely to get hired than inbound candidates are.

Inbound: 

  • Application created: 100%
  • Pre-onsite: 56%
  • Onsite interview: 6%
  • Hires: 4%

Outbound: 

  • Application created: 100%
  • Pre-onsite: 8%
  • Onsite interview: 3%
  • Hires: 1%
Amy Wood: “Anecdotally, I’ve seen teams that focus more on passive sourcing tend to hit hiring goals more frequently as it gives them more control over their funnel. This data would seem to back that up. If I’m a recruiting leader looking at this, I would focus more time on passive sourcing rather than inbound resume review.”
Danielle Belanger: “Not all companies have the luxury of high inbound application volumes for their roles. At Toast, we focus on outbound sourcing, especially for niche, specialized, and hard-to-fill roles that may not have a ton of inbound applications from our career site. For roles like this, and for many smaller companies out there, they’ll likely find much more success with outbound sourcing rather than waiting for the right candidate to find them.” 

Passthrough rates by gender

Overall, we saw 20% more men than women entering the funnel; because of this, a greater percentage of men made it to the pre-onsite stage. However, female talent passed through the funnel at greater rates than their male counterparts from after the pre-onsite stage and onwards. 

 

Female:

  • Application created: 100%
  • Pre-onsite: 10%
  • Onsite interview: 4%
  • Offer: 2%
  • Hires: 1.5%

Male:

  • Application created: 100%
  • Pre-onsite: 11%
  • Onsite interview: 4%
  • Offer: 2%
  • Hires: 1%
Amy Wood: “To me, when we group this together with the reply rates for passive sourcing, it’s clear an increased focus on building a strategy for how you engage women in your funnel is really important as you would need to engage about 20% more women. I’m personally a big fan of the slate/batch interview process, which can help even the playing field when it comes to diversity in the funnel.”

Passthrough rates by ethnicity

White candidates see slightly higher passthrough rates from “application created” to “pre-onsite” (12% vs. 9% for Black/African-American and 11% for Hispanic/Latinx). That said, Black and Hispanic/Latinx talent see similar or even higher passthrough rates across the remaining stages of the funnel. At the same time, Asian talent has the lowest passthrough rates after the pre-onsite stage and also has the lowest offer acceptance rate.

White:

  • Application created: 100%
  • Pre-onsite: 12%
  • Onsite interview: 4%
  • Offer: 2%
  • Hires: 2%

Black/African American:

  • Application created: 100%
  • Pre-onsite: 9%
  • Onsite interview: 4%
  • Offer: 2%
  • Hires: 2%

Hispanic/LatinX:

  • Application created: 100%
  • Pre-onsite: 11%
  • Onsite interview: 4%
  • Offer: 2%
  • Hires: 2%

Asian:

  • Application created: 100%
  • Pre-onsite: 11%
  • Onsite interview: 3%
  • Offer: 1%
  • Hires: 1%
Danielle Belanger: “By looking at this data within your own company, you can look for signs that may indicate bias in your process that could be weeding out great BIPOC or historically marginalized candidates. You should ask yourself: Are our interview questions fair and consistent? Are our panels prepared to navigate behavioral interview questions with folks from non-traditional backgrounds (a tech role for someone who hasn’t worked in tech before, for example)? There’s a lot of action you can take here—it’s important to review and hold your TA and leadership teams accountable.” 

Offer acceptance rates

In our data, we saw an average offer acceptance rate of 81%, a decline from last year’s average of 85%. Large companies (5000+ FTEs) and small companies (<250 FTEs) saw the highest offer acceptance rates; and unsurprisingly, technical roles (engineering, data, etc.) had much lower acceptance rates than non-technical roles. 

Company size:

  • 1-249 FTEs: 81%
  • 250-999 FTEs: 78%
  • 1000-4999 FTEs: 80%
  • 5000+ FTEs: 84%

Role type:

  • Tech: 70%
  • Non-tech: 86%
Amy Wood: “A great way to action this data is to think about your hiring goals and expectations for recruiters and how they may vary depending on focus area. At Gem, we use these benchmarks when we think about capacity modeling for recruiters. What this data is telling us is that a tech recruiter may have to extend nearly 20% more offers to make the same amount of hires that a tech recruiter makes. Then, we think about how that may impact the input at the top of the funnel.”
Danielle Belanger: “This is critical information to share with your leadership, HR, and finance teams. For example, if you’re seeing a large percentage of offers declined due to competitive offers, it can help drive the feedback loop with information on how you can better sell the company with things like salary, benefits, etc.” 

Benchmarks are the cornerstone of any data-driven hiring process. They allow you to make sense of your data, determine where you are in relation to your peers, and give you a source of truth on which you can base your hiring decisions. Gem’s Talent Compass can help you track all the benchmarks we covered in this article and many more, so if you’d like to get unparalleled visibility into your hiring funnel, schedule a demo and we’ll show you how. 

Let's admit it—the current recruiting landscape is rough. But the good news is we're here to provide the benchmarks and knowledge you need to navigate these challenges and power your hiring strategies.

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