small business recruiting statistics

Wouldn’t it be ideal if hiring quality employees for your business were as simple as creating an ad and waiting for the perfect candidate to come along? As it happens, the hiring process is a bit more involved than that—especially if you want to hire the right employees for your business (with as little hassle as possible).

When it comes to hiring for your small business, there are several metrics to understand about the process, including hiring benchmark metrics and conversion rate metrics.

Hiring benchmark metrics involve tracking data such as views per job, applicants per job, applicants per hire, average days to contact, average days to contact hire, and average days to hire.

Conversion rate metrics involve tracking data such as views-to-applicant conversion rate (how many views of a job posting turn into applications), applicant-to-interview conversion rate (how many applications turn into interview applications), and interview-to-hire conversion rate (how many interviews turn into hires).

Job view-to-application conversion rates vary widely between industries. Businesses that provide compelling, clear job descriptions and titles, as well as simple application forms, tend to see higher view-to-applicant rates than those who don’t. The minimum conversion rate all companies should aim for is 10%.

Some industries with the highest view-to-application conversion rates include:

  • Automotive (18%)
  • Cleaning services (20%)
  • Hospitality, entertainment, and recreation (14%)
  • Restaurant and food service (16%)


Next, how many of those applicants will convert to hires?

According to CareerPlug,

“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 benchmarks – despite converting their applicants to interviews at similar rates.”

Some industries with the highest applicant-to-interview conversion rates:

  • Cleaning services (23%)
  • Education and childcare (27%)
  • Home and commercial services (20%)
  • Hospitality, entertainment, and recreation (18%)


Those with the highest interview-to-hire conversion rates:

  • Hospitality, entertainment, and recreation (9%)
  • Restaurant and food service (14%)
  • Retail (12%)

Tips for a Better Small Business Recruiting Process

Now, down to the details that will help you make your hiring process a bit easier. Here are two important questions to consider before you begin your hiring process:

  1. What are the best times of year to post jobs?
  2. Where are the best places to post jobs?

What are the best times of year to post jobs?

Believe it or not, when you post your job plays a role in how many applicants you’ll receive. January, June, and July prove to be the best times of year to post a job, while September and November are typically the worst. A job posted in January is likely to receive 35% more applications than the same job posted in November.

Where are the best places to post jobs?

Not surprisingly, job boards are the most common place to find new applicants across all industries.
According to Career Plug, job boards produce “upwards of 80% of applications in every industry in our analysis and more than 90% of applications in some industries.”

The takeaway? If volume is your goal, job boards are your best bet. However, job board postings don’t actually convert to hires at the same rate as other sources. They’re also not always the best way to attract the highest quality of applications. Often, applicants who apply through job boards are applying to many jobs at once, without paying special attention to the details of each job and their application requirements.

Applicants are roughly 5% more likely to be hired if they apply from the company’s careers page instead, and nearly 20% more likely to be hired if they applied from a referral! Statistics like this are truly a testament to the power of networking—and the power of solid branding.

So, what does this mean for business owners who want to hire the right team?

With our economy facing unprecedented trials, it’s hard to know when we’ll experience the levels of hiring stability we were accustomed to before the pandemic. While we wait on an economic turnaround, there are concrete things business owners can do to make sure they’re ready to hire when the time comes.

1. Build your employment brand.

If your website doesn’t already have a careers page, consider creating one. An attractive careers page that includes job openings, employee testimonials, your core values, and other key details about your company will be far more enticing to a potential applicant than a vague listing on a job board.

2. Create a job marketing strategy.

Speaking of job boards, try to create a job marketing strategy that doesn’t rely on them. Or, at the very least, make sure they are industry-specific job boards. When hiring, look to resources like community message boards and local universities, as well as reaching out to personal connections for referrals. Remember, referrals might produce the smallest percentage of applicants, but they also result in the highest percentage of hires—more proof that networking pays.

3. Optimize your job postings as soon as possible.

After you have created an engaging careers page (with well-written job descriptions and titles) and reached out within your community and personal network, try to take a step back. Does the job title resonate with applicants in your industry? Does your company culture seem inviting and engaging? Would you apply for the job you’re advertising?

You might consider running concrete job listings by a trusted contact to get helpful feedback, including any initial questions or concerns you may have overlooked.

If the prospect of creating your own employment brand seems daunting, you can always invest in hiring software to help you find the right applicants. This can help you create custom job postings and even career pages quickly and easily using simple, pre-made templates. It can even help you create mobile-friendly applications that publish to multiple job boards so you don’t have to spend hours publishing them manually.

Though 2020 has been a year for the books in many ways, one thing that will never change is that someone, somewhere, will always need a job. Keep this in mind when you get discouraged at bleak economic outlooks.

And make sure to keep these recruiting statistics and tips in mind to ensure your hiring process is as smooth and successful as it can possibly be.

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