6 Metrics Your Staffing Firm Needs to Start Tracking Now to Improve Time to Placement

Karen Axelton
July 07, 2023
5 min read

Tracking these six metrics and applying what you learn can help you streamline your background check process, improve time to placement, and enhance your staffing agency’s competitive edge.

With nearly two open positions for every unemployed worker, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ May 2023 report, staffing firms are enjoying steady demand—but also facing stiff competition for candidates. In fact, staffing agencies of all types cite the talent shortage as their number-one challenge for 2023, according to Bullhorn’s Global Talent Trends Report.

Efficiency is key to keeping your clients satisfied, but even small slowdowns during the hiring process can result in late starts and unhappy customers. Uncovering hiring bottlenecks and their causes can help you fine-tune your recruiting process and provide faster placement, even with a lean team.

One phase of hiring that’s ripe for review: the background check process.

A poor candidate experience, incomplete forms, missing consents, or high dispute rates can all slow down background screenings, impacting candidate conversion and time to hire. Measuring key metrics in your background check process can reveal ways to increase efficiency, improve time to placement, and boost customer satisfaction.

We’ve identified six key metrics that staffing firms should measure. Here’s a closer look at each, including what you should track, how to measure it, and why these metrics are so important.

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Guide: 5 Steps to Getting Better ROI From Your Screening Program

Metric 1: Turnaround time

Turnaround time refers to the total time it takes to process the background check, beginning when the candidate gives their consent and ending when you receive results to review. Understanding average turnaround times can help you set both internal and client expectations for how long various types of screenings will take. Track turnaround times by:

  • Client
  • Background check package
  • Type of search (e.g., national criminal check, education verification, employment verification, etc.)

Measuring the turnaround times for all of the different background checks you use, for all of your clients, helps you further fine-tune your screening program and adjust time-to-hire goals. Insight into turnaround times also helps you set expectations for both clients and candidates. Finally, transparency into how long the screening process will take goes a long way toward keeping candidates happy and in your hiring pipeline.

With increased insight into turnaround times for each screening, you can see where bottlenecks may be occurring and work with your background check provider to address the issue. Excessive delays might also be a sign that it’s time to look for a provider that can deliver faster results.

Metric 2: Time to complete

Time-to-complete measures the time between your team initiating the background screening and the candidate getting the forms, to receiving the candidate’s consent. Background screening solutions that integrate with your ATS typically let you access date stamps to measure this step. Useful breakdowns of time-to-complete include:

  • By client
  • By position
  • By background check package
  • By location

Examine time-to-complete data to pinpoint where problems are occurring and determine solutions. For instance, if invitation emails are sitting unopened, text messaging can remind candidates of actions they need to take. A screening provider that offers an advanced, mobile-first candidate workflow and easy-to-complete consent and authorization forms can help alleviate these issues. Integrating with your ATS or HRIS system can also help minimize time-to-complete by automatically syncing candidate information to the background screening platform.

Improve your background check ROI

Metric 3: Number of background checks

Complete, accurate background checks protect both you and your clients, but overscreening with unnecessary checks costs you (and your clients) time and money. Track the type and number of background checks for each client to see if you’re striking the right balance.

Monitor the number of screenings by type, noting consents received, clear results, results with hits, and disputes. Look at the following:

  • Percentage of checks canceled or expired: Too many canceled or expired screenings can signal problems with candidate communication. How quickly did candidates receive notification to fill out forms or provide consent? Were instructions simple and candidate support readily available?
  • Percentage of clear checks vs. percentage with hits: Monitor hits by type of record—for example, felony, misdemeanor, and so on. If your checks disqualify more candidates than you’d like, you may need to change your recruiting channels, review your adjudication guidelines, or reevaluate the types of searches you’re running to ensure they’re aligned with the role and you aren’t over-screening.

By analyzing this information, you can arrive at an ideal number of background check components based on clients’ industries, locations, and roles. Identifying the right background check searches for each clients’ position types will speed time-to-fill.

Metric 4: Adjudication results

Monitor the percentage of adjudication results in each of these categories: “hire,” “ineligible for hire,” and “requires review.” Too many ineligible candidates could mean you need new recruiting channels or better job descriptions.

If the percentage of results needing further review seems excessive, or a certain result regularly needs adjudication, consider modifying your adjudication criteria. If your background screening provider offers an adjudication tool, customizing rules for each client helps ensure you don’t spend time manually reviewing and clearing results irrelevant to the role. Reducing the need for manual review of irrelevant screening results makes your team more efficient, so you can fill roles faster.

Metric 5: Discrepancy and dispute rate

Background discrepancies can occur when candidates provide information that’s inconsistent or can’t be verified, which can lead to delays in screenings being completed, costing you valuable time. Discrepancies could result from simple errors, like candidates mistyping information or not remembering dates of employment. Monitor the percentage of:

  • All screening results with discrepancies
  • Discrepancies for each type of screening component

Examine the types of discrepancies. You can modify your adjudication criteria so discrepancies that aren’t disqualifying don’t return hits (for example, employment start dates that are within 30 days of the date provided). A similar name or mistyped Social Security number or birth date could potentially return records that belong to a different person. A background screening provider that flags input errors in the candidate workflow can help reduce discrepancies.

You may also be interested in the dispute rate. A high dispute rate for criminal records could delay how fast you can onboard a candidate – talk to your provider to better understand how records are verified and what processes are in place to reduce disputes.

Ready to dig deeper?

Learn 5 Steps to Getting Better ROI From Your Screening Program

Metric 6: Productivity: Manual processes vs. automation

Streamlining all aspects of the background check process includes improving your team’s efficiency. To track how much time your team spends on background checks, note how many hours per week is spent on manual work related to the screening process. That might include guiding candidates through the completion process, reviewing results against your adjudication matrix, or initiating adverse action.

Understanding the number of hours your team spends on manual work related to background checks can help you reveal potential productivity gains. How much time could you save – and how much faster could you fill open roles for your clients – if some of these manual processes were automated within your screening provider’s platform?

Start tracking metrics with a modern background check provider

Tracking these six metrics and applying what you learn can help you streamline your background check process, improve time to placement, and enhance your staffing agency’s competitive edge.

Make measuring metrics easy by working with a modern background check provider that offers robust reporting and analytics tools. Advanced analytics within your screening platform can help you identify reasons for slowdowns, find new opportunities to expand your talent pool, and optimize your background check process to enhance productivity and reduce costs.

Further, background check solutions that automate workflows, streamline adjudication, and offer mobile-first candidate communication tools will help you clear the bottlenecks in your background screening process. Finally, integrating your background check platform with your preferred ATS and HRIS systems will help you automate many time-consuming processes, further improving your team’s efficiency.

Choose Checkr’s advanced background check platform for fast, accurate, and compliant background checks, and you’ll be ready to fill your clients’ staffing needs quickly and confidently.

To learn more about how to improve efficiency and speed time to placement, download our guide: “[Staffing Industry Insights] 5 Steps to Getting Better ROI From Your Screening Program”.

5 Steps to Getting Better ROI From Your Screening Program


The resources provided here are for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. We advise you to consult your own counsel if you have legal questions related to your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.

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About the author

Karen Axelton writes about business topics and best practices. She has written hundreds of articles on business subjects, including background screening, hiring and employment trends, human resource management, and the use of technology in the workplace. Her work includes educational articles, e-books, white papers, and case studies.

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