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2020 Recruiting Metrics: Benchmark Data by Industry

At CareerPlug, we pride ourselves on being the Hiring Experts small businesses turn to for insight into best practices for recruiting. That’s why we’re excited to announce the publication of our first annual hiring benchmark report. 

Our team analyzed hiring activity in 2019 from over 10,000 companies — covering more than 10 million applications — to establish industry-specific benchmarks and shed light on key recruiting metrics that determine hiring success for small businesses.

Featured industries

By downloading this free report, you will gain access to our data and analysis of the hiring funnel for the following industries:

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

Key recruiting metrics 

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

Job view-to-applicant conversion rate:

  • Automotive: 18%
  • Cleaning Services: 20%
  • Education & Child Care: 6%
  • Fitness: 9% 
  • Healthcare: 11%
  • Home & Commercial Services: 10%
  • Hospitality, Entertainment & Recreation: 14%
  • Personal Care: 7%
  • Restaurant & Food Service: 16%
  • Retail: 9%

Rates of job view-to-applicant conversion rates vary widely between top-performing industries and those that lag behind. Industries that perform well on this metric can see view-to-applicant rates of 15 to 20% and all companies should be targeting at least a 10% conversion rate from job views to clicks. 

Applicant-to-hire ratio

The number of applicants it takes to make one hire, by industry:

  • Automotive: 84 
  • Cleaning Services: 185 
  • Education & Child Care: 46 
  • Fitness: 148 
  • Healthcare: 106 
  • Home & Commercial Services: 141 
  • Hospitality, Entertainment & Recreation: 59 
  • Personal Care: 115 
  • Restaurant & Food Service: 64
  • Retail: 72

Converting interview invitations to hires drives down applicant-to-hire ratios, as expected. While there is variance across industries in the rate of applications that are invited to an interview, the better predictor for a better applicant-to-hire ratio is the rate at which those interview invitations are turned into hires. The top performing industries in our benchmarks need 64% fewer applicants to make a hire than the worst performing industries in our benchmark — despite converting their applicants to interviews at similar rates.

The best time to post jobs vs. the worst time to post jobs

  • The best months of the year to post jobs are January, June, and July.
  • The worst months to post jobs are November and September.

Across all industries in our analysis, the time of the year that a job is posted is a major predictor of the number of applicants the job will receive. A typical job posted in January, the top performing month for most industries in our analysis, will receive 35% more applications than the same job posted in November, the worst performing month for most industries.

The best places to post jobs

The applicant hire rate — the percentage of applicants hired, by source — is the key performance indicator we used to determine the best places to post jobs, which are:

  • Referrals: 19.17%
  • Careers pages: 5.18%
  • Job boards: 0.22%

Job boards are the most common source for applicants across all, producing upwards of 80% of applications in every industry in our analysis and more than 90% of applications in some industries. If absolute volume is your goal, posting your job to job boards is your best bet. Despite being the source of most applicants, job boards do not produce hires at nearly the same rate as other sources. 

Job boards produced 88% of all applications but only 29% of hires in our analysis. Companies that rely solely on job boards are likely to find that the applicants they receive are less responsive and of lower quality than applicants generated through other means, including their own careers page and referrals. 

In our analysis, an applicant who applied directly from a company careers page was 23 times more likely to be hired than an applicant from a job board and an applicant who applied from a referral was 85 times more likely to be hired than an applicant from a job board. 

Job boards produce quantity, but not always quality

The reasons for these stark differences in applicant-to-hire ratio 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 is much more likely to be excited about the position and to be a good match.

What this means for hiring in 2020

This report is being published in the second quarter of 2020. A lot has changed between the end of 2019 and the time of this writing as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis. 2019 ended with an exceptionally low 3.5% unemployment rate, making the beginning of 2020 a candidate’s job market. However, as of April 2020, the unemployment rate is now approaching 18%, with 22 million unemployment claims being filed in a four-week span. 

These ongoing seismic shifts in the job market are not represented in our 2019 data. Still, there are some findings gleaned from our analysis that remain true and will continue to be relevant as businesses begin to hire again. 

As the economy recovers, employers will be met with an applicant pool far larger than any in recent memory. An unprecedented number of talented job seekers are suddenly available and eager to rejoin the workforce. Our hope is that our hiring benchmark data will help employers plan to make the right hires at the right time and, in doing so, help millions of displaced job seekers take the next step in their career paths.

What businesses can do now

Based on our analysis of the recruiting metrics in this report, we’ve determined some steps businesses can take now to put themselves in a position to recruit top talent once the job market returns to normal. 

1. Build your employment brand.

The data shows that company careers pages are a hugely successful source of hires, but an untapped source of applicants overall, with no industry reporting more than 11% and some reporting as low as 2%. Invest in creating an engaging and attractive careers page that showcases employee testimonials, aspects of your company culture, and your core values. 

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

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

3. Optimize your job postings sooner rather than later.

Ask yourself, “Would I want to apply to this job?” Do your research to see which job titles resonate best with job seekers in your industry. Write high quality job descriptions so that when your ideal candidate reads it, they’ll be compelled to apply.

Related resources

Need to improve your hiring process but don’t know where to begin? Check out these guides created by the hiring experts at CareerPlug.

  • How to Build a Hiring Process – This how-to guide takes you through the hiring process steps proven to result in the right hires.
  • How to Build a Careers Page – The data finds that company careers pages are an underutilized source of high-quality candidates who frequently become hires. Our hiring experts share the top five company culture elements you should include on your careers page.
  • How to Write a Job Description – Learn how to write a compelling job description that will attract quality applicants. This comprehensive guide also includes free job description template downloads.
  • How to Create an Ideal Candidate Profile – This guide includes expert tips for identifying your ideal candidate using our free candidate profile template downloads.

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