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How Long a Job’s Open Before You Think There’s Something Wrong With it

by Oct 5, 2012, 1:30 pm ET

logo-generalIf you’ve ever shopped for a house, you know that after a certain number of days on the market, you start to wonder, “What’s wrong with this house?”

Something like that goes on with jobs. After a certain point, some folks ask themselves, “why hasn’t this job been filled?”

That point is somewhere around 72 days.

Randstad asked 2,000 people, “How many working days does a vacancy for a permanent job have to be open before it starts to look like a bad job that no one wants?”

The average was about 15 weeks, or about 72 working days. Of course, it depends on the job and on who’s answering the question. Older people, for example, tended to think jobs should be filled more quickly. Allied Health professionals say that jobs get stale after 83 days. IT respondents averaged 67 days. Construction/property/engineering: 71 days.

Randstad professionals — those consulting and working on searches for Randstad — also answered the question about the ideal time to fill a job … too long, and it looks like there’s a problem with the job; too short, and perhaps you didn’t do a good search. They thought, on average, that 35 days was the sweet spot.

“The best applicant is often the one who turns up early in the process,” says Mark Bull, UK CEO of Randstad. “The trick is not to turn that person down just because the vacancy’s only been open a couple of weeks. If employers see the right person on the first day of interviews, they need to have the courage of their convictions and hire the candidate straight away. If they don’t, they have to be prepared to see that job seeker walk into the arms of a competitor who is willing to move faster.”

This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to offer specific legal advice. You should consult your legal counsel regarding any threatened or pending litigation.

  • Keith Halperin

    Thanks, Todd. Any figures saying how long the average job is open?

    Cheers,

    Keith

  • Todd Raphael

    Sorry for the delay. I had just seen that stat about a week ago and was trying to find where I saw it last night. Anyhow – Randstad didn’t have that stat on this survey but I think in general (via SHRM, Robert Half, CareerBuilder, and other surveys) it’s about 40 days, obviously varying by the industry (e.g. government taking longer) and job.

  • http://www.socialrecruitingreport.com Jason Webster

    Interesting topic…and it is true that a job may look stale if it has been advertised over a long period of time. While this is true, it is only true for a “one-to-one” position. Meaning, it is truly one job that is open for a specific purpose.

    What we are experiencing at Ongig is that companies are primarily advertising “roles” that they hire consistently for. Thus, the position always seems to be open from the candidate’s perspective. Perhaps a company just needs to be more clear when advertising those types of positions.

    As for length of opening, we are seeing an average that is around 70 days. Much of that is on the employer as they take many weeks to conduct interviews and make decisions. It’s likely true that many top candidates arrive early in the process.

  • http://www.verticalelevation.com Carol Schultz

    Todd: Interesting research. My only question to the Randstad folks:

    Did you look at the possibility that companies taking too long to find candidates put together a job spec that was not possible to get filled? For example, is a C level company looking for A level candidates?

  • http://hr.toolbox.com/blogs/aristocracy-hr/ Janine Truitt

    This is a great post, Todd and very timely for me. Where I work we recruit for professionals in the STEM community. Many of our professionals are extremely niche in expertise, but other disciplines we recruit for are non-scientific in nature. Some of our internal partners believe it is okay to leave a job open indefinitely for posting and I disagree.

    I don’t mind exhausting a posting if there is a defined plan and we get the best fit for the job in the end. However, where the recruitment plan has gone stale or awry- I think it is best to unpost after 60-70 days and reevaluate the path forward for the reasons stated in your article.

    I will be sharing this information with my team.

    Thanks again,

    Janine

  • Keith Halperin

    Thank you, Todd.
    A clarification: do you know if the survey has studied positions which show a posting date of x days previously, or if it refers to positions which may appear new (no posting date feature or frequent “refreshing”) but has actually been up a long time? Also, is it hiring managers or candidates are the “folks” wondering if the positions are stale?

    Cheers,

    Keith

  • Belinda Walmsley

    Hi All,

    Apologies for the slight delay in responding. I helped put the research together in the UK and my colleagues at Randstad in the US have alerted me to your queries.The research centred around a job in the market – whether that was advertised on the Internet or by other means. We didn’t specifically look at the issue of reposting but instead looked at the total time it was live – eg: we discounted whether it was refreshed or not. Anecdotally we do know that some job specs are clearly harder to fill because of the niche candidate required or because sometimes the client has not been in the recruitment market recently enough to know that their wishlist is going to be very difficult to achieve. That’s where we always try to offer our guidance -as if the spec is too niche to begin with it won’t aid the client to try and pursue it without offering our insight at the beginning. We do have some stats on how long the average job is open for. While it took 40 days to fill a post in Q2 2011, this rose to 59 days in Q2 2012 – however I should caveat they are very specfic to our accountancy and banking recruitment statistics in London.

    I hope that helps shed some more light on the questions and apologies again time difference meant I wasn’t able to respond before.

  • Belinda Walmsley

    I should also add that we surveyed the “folks” as it were. So it was the job seekers that flagged when they felt a job became stale.

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