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2022 Recruiting Metrics Report: Benchmark Data by Industry

In CareerPlug’s third annual Recruiting Metrics Report, we continue to analyze our hiring data to shed light on hiring metrics and trends for small businesses across various industries. Our team analyzed hiring activity in 2021 from more than 14,000 employers — covering more than 5.2 million applications.

In this report, you’ll find analysis of data covering the hiring funnel from initial visit through hire for these industries: 

  • Automotive
  • Cleaning Services
  • Education & Child Care
  • Fitness
  • Healthcare
  • Home & Commercial Services
  • Hospitality, Entertainment & Recreation
  • Personal Care
  • Restaurant & Food Service
  • Retail

Take an in-depth look at the results of our study by downloading the free 2022 Recruiting Metrics Report.

2022 Recruiting Metrics: Benchmark Data by Industry

See how your company’s hiring and recruiting stats compare to others in your industry and learn tips for what you can do to make the right hires.


2021 and the Great Resignation

It’s impossible to view 2021 as a normal year for employment. The availability of widespread COVID vaccinations in the first quarter of 2021 helped push employers to ramp up their hiring in order to meet the demands of an American public eager to return to normal. But employers in some industries faced something unexpected – their once-reliable applicant pool had shrunk. 

In 2021, the labor market faced massive readjustments largely driven by job seeker sentiment in what many have called “The Great Resignation.” Jobs that were once easily filled (for example, service sector jobs like restaurants, retail, hospitality, etc.) faced a candidate population reluctant to return to work or opting instead to pursue the influx of new work-from-home roles in other industries. 

Looking at our own data, we found that the number of new jobs posted using CareerPlug in 2021 increased 49% over the previous year. However, the number of people applying to jobs actually decreased by 30%. Translation: 2021 saw fewer job seekers applying for more roles. By any measure, 2021 was a candidate’s market.

jobs posted vs. applicants

Key recruiting metrics 

In analyzing the data, we found that the following metrics revealed the most significant takeaways. 

How many job views convert to applicants?

Rates of job view-to-applicant conversion rates are down significantly in all industries. In 2020, businesses saw an average view-to-applicant conversion rate of 7%, but in 2021, that figure dropped to 3%. This is just one more indicator that while these job seekers are seeing more job postings, they are applying to fewer.

job posting view to applicant conversion rate

How many applicants convert to hires?

Many employers want to know how many applicants it takes to make one hire. But that’s a tricky question to answer without looking at a few other variables:

  • The applicant-to-interview conversion rate
  • The interview-to-hire conversion rate

In 2020, the average applicant-to-interview conversion rate was 15%, but in 2021, the average rose to 20%. Similarly, the interview-to-hire conversion rate saw a small rise from an average of 9% to 11%. This makes sense because with fewer applicants applying to jobs, employers are sending interview invitations to a larger portion of the candidates that do apply. 

However, it’s worth noting that while 2021 saw a dramatic decrease in applicant flow (down 30%), those decreases were not felt as dramatically further downstream in the hiring funnel. The average applicant-to-interview and interview-to-hire figures saw only modest changes. This suggests that employers don’t necessarily need more applicants at the top of their funnels to make their hires – they just need to convert applicants to interviews and interviews to hires at slightly higher rates in order to hire as effectively as they have in the past.

applicant to interview conversion rate
interview to hire conversion rate
applicant to hire conversion rate

What are the best times of year to post jobs?

January proved to be the best month to post a job in 2021 by a significant margin. Jobs posted in January received an average of 40% more applicants per job than the yearly average. 

The worst month to post a job was April, which saw a steep decline in applicants per job – about 22% lower than the yearly average. This decline improved somewhat in May, while resuming a normal uptick in applicant flow in the summer months of June and July. 

In a typical year, the holiday season months of November and December are usually the worst months to hire, but 2021 was not a typical year. April’s dip in applicants coincides with a steep increase in new jobs created as businesses ramped up their hiring. Many more new jobs were posted, the number of applicants did not keep up with the demand, so competition for candidates became fierce in April.

best month to post jobs

What are the best places to post jobs?

Job boards are the most common source for applicants, producing an average of 72% of applications across all industries in our analysis. If absolute volume is your goal, posting your job to job boards is your best bet. But despite being the source of most applicants, job boards do not produce hires at nearly the same rate as other sources. 

best applicant sources

Job boards produce quantity, but not always quality

The reasons for these stark differences in applicant-to-hire rates based on source may vary, but our experience shows us that applicants who apply from job boards are more likely to be sending out dozens applications in short order, with less consideration for their qualifications for the role or their interest in the specific job. 

An applicant who takes the time to research a role and apply directly through a company careers page is more likely to have spent time considering their own fit for the role and the company, and an applicant who is referred to a job by an employee is much more likely to be excited about the position and be a good match.

How to Improve Your Hiring in 2022

2021 was a rollercoaster year for recruiting, but we’ve gained insights into what steps businesses can take now to hire top talent regardless of the state of the job market. Learn more about what you can do to improve your hiring in 2022 in this webinar video recording from CareerPlug’s Senior Director of People, Natalie Morgan:

1. Build your employer brand.

Company careers pages are a hugely successful source of hires, but an untapped source of applicants overall. Candidates who take the time to research a company tend to be high-quality candidates who are more selective about where they choose to apply. Invest in creating an engaging and attractive careers page that showcases employee testimonials, aspects of your company culture, and your core values

Cat Santangelo, the San Diego Market Director for Nothing Bundt Cakes sees their careers page as a powerful recruiting tool to showcase their employer brand to candidates: “We are very fortunate to have many of our Team Members recommend potential candidates because they enjoy working for our brand and love our values. The partnership we have with CareerPlug strongly supports our focus, by allowing the voice of our Team to be heard on our Careers page. This is a great place for potential Team Members to hear personal testimonies that highlight why our Teams love being part of the Nothing Bundt Cakes family.”

2. Create better job postings to stand apart from your competitors. 

In 2021, we frequently heard from employers who were concerned about the declining number of applicants to their jobs. But our data shows that job postings received just as many views per job as in 2020 – it’s just that the number of applicants per job was cut nearly in half. This tells us that job seekers are seeing your postings, they’re just faced with more options than ever, and they’re only applying to the opportunities that appeal to them the most.

As an employer, it’s crucial that you write enticing job descriptions so that candidates are compelled to apply to your business and not your competitors. Practice pay transparency by offering competitive pay and benefits and advertising it in the job posting. 

3. Create a job marketing strategy that doesn’t rely on job boards.

Compile a list of custom sources like industry-specific job boards, community message boards, local and university job boards, and email campaigns to customers. Compile another list of employees, friends, and colleagues in your personal network to reach out for referrals. Our data shows these sources produce the highest-quality candidates, yet the lowest percentage of applicants. Plan on targeting them before your next round of hiring. 

Scott Kinworthy, Franchise Owner for F45 Training, has seen great success asking customers for referrals as well:  “The same way that you would reach out to your client base and call them for referrals, you can talk to your client base about who are some great people they’ve interacted with in the fitness industry and ask them for referrals. Make announcements before and after classes. That’s been very successful for us. For example, saying, ‘We’re trying to attract great people. We’re always hiring superstars, so if you know of anyone, please send them our way.’ And that’s been great.”

4. Communicate with candidates faster.  

Employers are now quicker to hire, shaving nearly a week off their time to hire between 2020 and 2021. You’ll want to move fast before your competition scoops up quality candidates. Try text recruiting to communicate with candidates faster. Text messages receive an 8 times higher response rate than email, along with a much faster response time. An applicant tracking system like CareerPlug can also help you quickly evaluate candidates using a proven hiring process, allowing you to accelerate your hiring decisions without sacrificing quality.

CareerPlug takes the guesswork out of hiring

Our applicant tracking system was designed to help small businesses make the right hires. Chat with a hiring expert at CareerPlug today to learn how it works!


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