While calculating cost per hire (CPH) is not an exact science, it can be a valuable instrument that gives insight into the cost of the hiring process for various positions and do some comparisons. Cost per hire can also allow companies to evaluate how effective they are with various sourcing strategies in the hiring process. However to be most effective, a company should look at all of the factors that contribute to the cost per hire.
Many contributing factors have to be considered when calculating the cost per hire of an internal recruiting team. The first factor is the recruiter who is a fixed cost since he or she is an employee of the company. Then hardware related costs have to be added in such as the computers and the telephones. Expenses to get the word out about open positions like job fairs, job boards, referral bonuses, and the applicant tracking system will also need to be added into the cost per hire calculation. Finally add in training, on-boarding, and turnover costs. Once all those costs are added up, the total cost per hire can be determined. This total cost per hire is essentially the same whether a company is hiring an inexpensive person or an expensive person because it is the same person doing the recruiting. When recruiting internally, it is also important to remember that the recruiter is a fixed capacity so he or she cannot handle any surges in hiring.
The alternative to recruiting internally is using a recruiting agency for hiring needs. The cost per hire with a recruiting agency should encompass most of the items that are calculated into the cost per hire of using an internal recruiter
One option is using a contingency firm, who gets paid only when someone is placed into a position. Contingency firms typically charge 15- 30% of salary. This means if a company is hiring an employee who will be paid $50,000 a year, the contingency firm will charge between $7,500 and $15,000 per hire. This can be a very hefty fee. The other option is to utilize a recruitment process outsourcing (RPO) firm. An RPO allows companies to outsource a part of the recruitment process or the entire recruiting function. RPO’s typically result in a cost per hire of 5 – 10% of salary compared to the 15 – 30% that a contingency firm charges. Using the same $50,000 salary as before, an RPO would typically result in a cost per hire of $2,500 to $5,000. Even by comparing the lowest CPH for a contingency firm with the highest price for an RPO, there is a minimum savings of $2,500 over a contingency firm.
When a company is faced with any level of volume hiring, the savings to the firm with an RPO exponentially increase. This is one of the areas where real value is delivered. Think of the cost savings of using an RPO versus a contingency firm to hire, for example, five sales personnel with $50,000 salary. This could be a savings of $7,500 to $50,000!
Utilizing an RPO such as Hire Velocity, a company can achieve a more cost effective cost per hire while delivering flexibility and scalability in meeting hiring needs…especially in this market when many internal recruiting teams are at their smallest size. Additionally, the RPO helps the company avoid any of the fixed cost elements of the Cost per Hire calculation.
Several recruiting experts across the board say that cost per hire is irrelevant, and in most cases they are absolutely correct. When cost per hire is not calculated correctly, its value is relatively minimal.
PwC Saratoga’s most recent report on the United States’ Human Capital Effectiveness, cited that the average cost per hire was $2,658 in 2007, a 4% decrease from the previous year. The report uses six different elements, which are taken into consideration when finding the cost per hire: Advertising, Agency and Search Firm, Referral bonuses paid to employees, Relocation costs, and Company recruiter costs. These elements seem to cover most of the costs, which are related to hiring, but Figure 1-A shows all costs related to an individual hire, sometimes overlooked by companies. These additional elements of the hiring process can even double the cost per hire. However many talent acquisition experts believe that the statistic is still completely irrelevant to the hiring process. Todd Raphael of ERE LLP, says that the cost per hire statistic reveals nothing. He refers to an occasion in which Texas Instruments even paid $25 million to retain a techie, but his productivity was worth well more than that. And to his point, not all employees are created equal. Even fast food restaurants have steep changes in compensation between a manager and a cashier, but used in the right context, cost per hire reveals a rough estimate on hiring costs. Statistics like those by PwC Saratoga show cost per hire across the board from a macroeconomic point of view, but its true effectiveness is found when comparable positions are averaged together. The cost per hire of an executive drastically differs from that of a customer service representative. The statistic may not play a large role in determining whether a company should hire an executive as quality can often cover the costs. Yet, in most other cases, cost per hire allows companies to focus on the means by which they go about the hiring process and whether tools like job postings or agency fees are truly necessary.
Several companies have edged away from cost per hire, and have seen their hiring process become increasingly costly. If consumers lost sight of the price of a cheeseburger at McDonalds versus Wendys, there would no longer be a dollar menu. Thus, it is essential to use cost per hire as an instrument that gives insight into the cost of the hiring process.
US Human Capital Effectiveness Report: Executive Summary. http://www.pwc.com/us/en/hr-saratoga/publications/2008-2009-human-capital-effectiveness-report.jhtml. PwC Saratoga, n.d. Web. 21 Jan. 2010.
Todd Raphael “Cost per hire: don’t even bother“. Workforce. FindArticles.com. 21 Jan, 2010. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0FXS/is_6_81/ai_87509062/
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