CORRECTING and REPLACING – New Research Shows SMBs Go Through 86 Candidates to Secure One Hire; 31 Percent of SMB Job Candidates Turn Down Their Offers

Year long study from Lever exposes hiring efficiencies – and inefficiencies – across more than 600 SMBs and startups

San Francisco, California, UNITED STATES

SAN FRANCISCO, March 14, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In a release issued under the same headline earlier today, a URL was missing from the text. It has been added. The corrected release follows: 

It takes small and midsized businesses an average of 86 candidates, 15 resume screens, 4.7 onsite interviews and 1.5 offers to secure one hire, according to a new study from Lever, the recruiting software for more than 1,200 fast-growing companies around the world. Lever examined sourcing and hiring data from over 600 companies with fewer than 200 employees over the course of a year to determine how efficient small to midsize companies are when it comes to hiring.

The research suggests SMBs, with their one in 86 hire ratio, have a more efficient hiring process than larger companies, as a 2016 study from Lever which examined companies of all sizes – from startups to large enterprises – showed a hiring ratio of one in 100.

Lever’s latest research found the most selective stage in the recruiting process for SMBs is the first one – the progression from new candidate to screen. Overall, only 17 percent of all candidates get an invite from the company for an initial conversation. Applicants (people submitting their resumes directly) are the least likely to advance, with only 13 percent being selected for a screen. On the flip side, candidates referred to the company have a preliminary conversation 57 percent of the time – over three times the average. Candidates sent by recruiting agencies are screened even more often (59 percent of the time), implying they are just as attractive as referrals in the early stages. Recruiters conduct screens with sourced candidates (a.k.a. “passive candidates”) 21 percent of the time.

The research also found the hiring process isn’t complete once an offer is extended, as 31 percent of candidates decline an offer. Engineering (59 percent), product management (63 percent), and business development candidates (63 percent) accept their offers at the lowest rate, while customer success candidates accept their offers at the highest rate (78 percent), followed by design (76 percent), and sales (74 percent).

Other findings related to SMB and startup hiring include:

  • Once they reach the onsite interview stage, applicants and sourced candidates receive offers at similar rates – 30 and 31 percent, respectively. A much higher percentage of referrals who come onsite (42 percent) receive an offer, while agency candidates trail behind at only 23 percent.
  • Applicants have the lowest hire ratio (one in every 128 applicants is hired), but represent 71 percent of the average candidate pool. This demonstrates the need for companies to embrace targeted employer branding to increase their quality of applicants.
  • Conversely, referrals represent two percent of the candidate pool but 14 percent of hires.

“Strong, efficient hiring is a true competitive advantage in the SMB market, yet many companies are unsure how to boost efficiency while also decreasing investment,” said Sarah Nahm, CEO and co-founder of Lever. “This research shows businesses must simultaneously nurture their networks for referrals, source passive candidates, improve the quality of their incoming applications and have backup offers at the ready. ‘The smaller the team, the higher the stakes’ and the SMBs that apply this mentality to their hiring process will be the ones who succeed.”

The report addressed SMB and startup hiring by position (sales, engineering, etc.) as well. It found:

  • Sales candidates (25 percent) are most likely to receive a screen, and 44 percent of sales candidates progress from a screen to an onsite interview.
  • Among the least likely to make it to a screen are design (13 percent) and recruiting candidates (14 percent).
  • Engineering candidates have an above average chance of securing a preliminary conversation with a company, but face the toughest screen to onsite interview process. Nineteen percent of all engineering candidates are screened, but only 26 percent move to the onsite stage.
  • Account management, business development, and operations candidates receive offers after interviewing onsite at the highest rate (32 percent), while product management (26 percent) and design (27 percent) candidates receive offers at the lowest rate.
  • Sales roles require the fewest screens per hire (11), followed by customer service (12), and account management and marketing (13).  

The full report, entitled “Inside the Recruiting Funnel: Essential Metrics for Startups and SMBs 2017” is available for download now at

Lever’s report aggregates data from approximately 1.5 million candidate considerations, 15,000 hires and 600 Lever SMB customers from 11/1/2015 - 11/1/2016. Customers ranged in size from 1 to 200 employees when they began using Lever, and some began using Lever midway through the study period.

About Lever
Built from the conviction that recruiting is the responsibility of everyone at the company, Lever’s applicant tracking and sourcing technology draws the entire team together to source, engage, interview, and hire top talent through effortless collaboration. Lever was founded in 2012 in San Francisco. The company has raised more than $32 million in funding from Scale Venture Partners, Matrix Partners, Y Combinator, Redpoint Ventures, and Correlation Ventures among others. Lever supports the hiring needs of over 1,200 companies around the globe including the teams at Netflix, Eventbrite, Lyft, and Quora. For more information, visit  



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