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2021 Recruiting Metrics Report: Benchmark Data by Industry

In CareerPlug’s 2021 Recruiting Metrics Report, we analyzed our hiring data to shed light on hiring metrics and trends for small businesses across various industries. Our team analyzed hiring activity in 2020 from more than 12,000 companies — covering more than 10 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 2021 Recruiting Metrics Report.

2021 Recruiting Metrics: Benchmark Data by Industry

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


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 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 11 to 12% and all companies should be targeting at least a 10% conversion rate from job views to clicks. 

view to applicant conversion rates

How many applicants does it take to make one hire?

The top performing industries in our analysis need 69% fewer applicants to make a hire than the worst performing industries in our study — despite converting their applicants to interviews at similar rates. 

applicant to hire conversion rates

What are the best times of year to post jobs?

The metrics in our analysis most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic are those that determine the best and worst months to post jobs. In 2019, normal seasonality was the biggest factor affecting success, with January and the summer months of June and July seeing the highest applicant flow. 

However in 2020, COVID-related shutdowns brought all typical seasonality to a grinding halt in March, skewing our hiring data with far more applications received in the pre-pandemic months of January and February than any other time of the year. So while we can say the data indicates that January and February were the best months to post a job in 2020, only time will tell if this remains the case in the future.

When it came to determining the months that saw the fewest applicants, the data shows more signs of typical seasonality, with the holiday months of November and December being the worst months to post a job.

best months to post jobs

What are the best places to post jobs?

Job boards are the most common source for applicants, producing an average of 82% of applications across every industry 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.

Learn more about how to create an attractive and compelling careers page from CareerPlug’s Senior Director of People, Natalie Morgan, in the video below.

What businesses can do now

With COVID-19 vaccines being deployed at a rapid pace in early 2021, business leaders remain optimistic that soon the world will begin to return to normal before the year is over. While we transition back into a world with fewer health and safety restrictions, it remains uncertain when employment numbers will return to pre-COVID levels.

Still, there are steps businesses can take now to put themselves in a position to recruit top talent regardless of the state of the job market. 

1. Build your employer 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 12% and some reporting as low as 3%. 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 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 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. Hiring software like CareerPlug makes this process easier by allowing you to post your jobs to multiple sources and track which sources produce your best candidates.

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.”

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. Remember: the best candidates will always have the freedom to be picky about where they choose to work. Write high quality job descriptions so that when your ideal candidate reads it, they’ll be compelled to apply to your business and not your competitors. 

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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