Hire Smarter: Don’t Raise the Bar, Specify the Skills | Burning Glass Technologies

When it comes to filling job openings faster, the secret may be simple: be specific about the skills you want.

The more specific skill requirements employers cite in job postings, the less time it takes to fill them, according to a new study published by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia and based on Burning Glass Technologies job posting data.

There is little difference in the time to fill a job when there are six or fewer skills cited in a posting, the study found. But the time to hire falls dramatically for every skill added after that. Citing 14 skills results in the lowest time to fill. Asking for more than 14 skills, however, increases the time to fill dramatically.


time to fill


Time-to-fill measures the period between when a job is posted and when it is taken down. On average, the paper said, job postings cite eight specific skills and are posted for 37 days.

This is in contrast to the impact other requirements have on hiring:

Raising the education requirement in a job post increases the time to fill. Each additional year of education required increases time to fill by 1.7 days. Requiring a bachelor’s degree instead of a high school diploma raises the time to fill by seven days, or 20%, on average.

  • Increasing the work experience required also increases the time to fill. Requesting five years’ experience in a job that demands a bachelor’s degree raises time to fill by 12%, or 4.5 days.
  • Adding more specific skills to a posting may make it easier for applicants to target their job search more efficiently, the study found. But the authors point out that the research can’t be reduced to a simple cause-and-effect based on skill requirements. Companies that name more skills in their posts may also put more effort into their recruiting and outreach. Also, higher education and experience requirements may make jobs harder to fill but could also pay off in increased productivity.

The report cautions that it is too early to base policy on the findings. But this insight should be suggestive to companies trying to be more strategic in how they acquire talent. Being precise in job descriptions pays off.

Labor Insight™ users can research time to fill for specific jobs. To find out more, contact Customer Support.