Recruitment operations is an emerging human resources function, meant to streamline hiring processes, cut costs and drive greater efficiency overall. It’s no surprise that measuring recruitment operations success comes down to data. Metrics tell the story of how your business acquires talent, the speed in which you’re able to do so, and the costs and resources involved in the process. 

When it comes to recruitment operations benchmarks, understanding what’s going on outside your organization may be key to assessing whether you’re on point or behind the curve.

We recently surveyed over 200 hiring authorities, from small businesses with a single staffer to organizations with over 10,000 employees, to find out where they stand on key recruiting metrics. Yello’s 2020 Recruitment Operations Benchmark Report reveals trends across multiple industries and a variety of job categories. These insights could help gauge the success of your own organization’s recruitment operations strategy.

2020 Recruitment Operations Benchmark Report

Top Takeaways:  

  • 52% of recruiters say their average time-to-hire for all open positions is 3+ weeks long.
  • A majority of recruiters say their cost-per-hire for all open positions is $3,000 or less.
  • Companies that can hire more quickly also save more: a lower time-to-hire is directly correlated with a lower cost-per-hire.
  • The most-tracked metrics for recruiting teams are: 1) time-to-hire, 2) cost-per-hire, and 3) retention rate.
  • Less than 1 in 4 recruiters say that key metrics are available to everyone on their HR team.
  • But there’s good news: 50% of recruiting teams that share metrics widely are doing so at least once/week.

Time-to-Hire Trends

Across all industries, company sizes and geographies, recruiters say that time-to-hire is the #1 most-tracked metric at their organization. It makes sense: in today’s talent shortage, landing new hires quickly and effectively has never been more important.

Keeping an eye on time-to-hire is a smart move for teams that are looking to improve candidate experience, too.

Top 3 most-tracked recruiting metrics:

1. Time-to-hire

2. Cost-per-hire

3. Retention rate 

Job seekers say the most frustrating part of the hiring process is waiting to hear from a company after an interview — and according to the 2019 Yello Recruiting Study, two-thirds of job seekers will wait less than two weeks to hear from an employer before moving on to another opportunity.

52% of recruiters reveal that their time-to-hire is 3 weeks or more across all types of job openings. These numbers draw attention to a significant disconnect between what candidates expect and what employers provide. For the youngest generation, expectations are even higher: research shows that a growing number of Gen Z job seekers expect the hiring process to take 5 days or less. 

Time-to-Hire: Entry-Level

For entry-level positions, the metrics are a bit more promising. Almost 60% of recruiters say they can hire entry-level staffers in three weeks or less. But more than 18% say it typically takes more than a month to bring in a new hire. 


52% of recruiters say their time-to-hire is 3+ weeks long.

Only 5% have a time-to-hire that’s less than a week long.


Unsurprisingly, time-to-hire increases as the need for experience goes up. Only 41% of recruiters say they can hire management-level staff in three weeks or less. For over 55% of recruiters, the process takes even longer. And for 1 in 5 organizations, the process will take more than 2 months.


It generally takes the most time to recruit for upper management and C-suite positions, with nearly 20% of companies taking more than three months to put a new executive on the payroll. More than half take a month or more to fill these less common and highly competitive slots. 

What’s taking so long?

Almost 50% of recruiters report that screening candidates is their biggest time drain. Another 33% cite interview scheduling as a barrier. 

Cost-per-Hire Trends

For all open positions, the majority of recruiters report their average cost-per-hire is $3,000 or less. But 31% of organizations reveal they spend more than that, and 5% report a cost-per-hire of more than $6,000 per opening. A surprising 17% of respondents said they don’t know or don’t track cost-to-hire data at all.

17% of recruiters don’t know or don’t track cost-per-hire.


Time is Money

Speeding up the hiring process isn’t just good for improving candidate experience and filling open roles. Companies that hire more quickly can also save more on recruiting costs; a lower time-to-hire is directly correlated with a lower cost per hire.

Companies with a time-to-hire of 3 weeks or more spend an average of $3,000 to $4,000 per hire, while those with a time-to-hire under three weeks see a 50% reduction in costs. 

If average time-to-hire is…Average cost-per-hire is…
3+ weeks$3,000 – $4,000
>3 weeks$1,000 – $2,000

What Metrics Are Recruiters Most Likely To Track?

We asked recruiters which metrics their companies actively track, and which ones aren’t as important. Topping the list was time-to-hire, followed by cost-per-hire and retention rates. Respondents indicated that their companies are less likely to track candidate engagement metrics, perhaps because these KPIs are more difficult to report.

Most-tracked recruiting metrics:

1. Time-to-hire

2. Cost-per-hire

3. Retention rate

Least-tracked recruiting metrics:

1. CRM responsiveness

2. Recruitment events metrics

3. Social media engagement

Sharing is Caring: A Lesson for Recruiting Teams

Although survey respondents indicated which metrics are most important to their company, the data shows that there’s still a long way to go when it comes to making recruitment reporting available to all key stakeholders. 

Less than 1 in 4 recruiters say that key metrics are available to everyone on the recruitment/HR team. Another 58% report that metrics are only available to leadership. Having access to hiring data is imperative for recruiters as implementers, and leadership for strategy development. As more businesses adopt recruitment operations practices into their strategy, it’s imperative to provide each stakeholder with the data they need to make informed decisions, adopt best practices, and continue to improve.

Less than 25% of companies make recruiting data available to the whole HR team.

58% of companies only share recruiting data with leadership.

 For those who do share recruitment metrics, there’s good news: 50% provide data to team members at least once a week. But there’s still room for improvement: less than 25% say that reporting is available through an automated business intelligence or software tool. In today’s landscape, it’s easier than ever to replace manual processes like team presentations, email reports or spreadsheets with higher-tech solutions like recruitment analytics software.


Technology is the Answer

Recruiters are turning to technology to make the hiring process more efficient, increase reporting abilities and improve the candidate experience. Which kinds of recruitment software are most popular? 

Most Popular Types of Talent Acquisition Software:

Applicant Tracking System (ATS)

Job boards software

Recruitment CRM software

Employee referral software

Interview scheduling software

73% of companies currently use talent acquisition software

In today’s war on talent, organizations that collect and act on valuable data are ahead of the curve when it comes to recruitment. Reducing time-to-hire and associated cost-per-hire is imperative, not just for saving resources, but for capturing talent quickly and effectively.



Yello partnered with SurveyMonkey Audience, SurveyMonkey’s global market research panel, to survey full- and part-time employed adults, ageds 18 – 99+ in the United States. The survey was conducted online between October 16 – October 19, 2019. It surveyed 200 professionals in the recruiting, talent acquisition, recruiting operations or staffing space.