Cost Per Hire (CPH)

June 5, 2023
Optimize your hiring process and control expenses with Cost Per Hire (CPH). Understand the factors influencing CPH for effective recruitment management.

What is Cost Per Hire (CPH)?

Cost Per Hire (CPH) is a metric that quantifies the financial investment required by an organization to recruit and onboard a new employee. It represents the total expenses incurred throughout the entire hiring process, including sourcing, screening, interviewing, and onboarding. CPH provides insights into the cost-efficiency of the recruitment process and helps organizations evaluate the effectiveness of their hiring strategies.

Importance of Understanding CPH for HR and Hiring Managers

Understanding CPH holds significant importance for HR professionals and hiring managers due to the following reasons:

  1. Budget Control: CPH allows organizations to effectively allocate and manage recruitment budgets. By understanding the costs associated with each stage of the hiring process, HR professionals can optimize expenditures and make informed decisions to control costs.
  2. Resource Planning: By comprehending CPH, HR professionals can plan and allocate internal resources more effectively. They can determine the appropriate number of HR staff members required for different hiring initiatives, streamline processes, and avoid overstaffing or understaffing situations.
  3. Performance Evaluation: CPH provides a measure of recruitment performance and efficiency. By comparing CPH across different positions, departments, or time periods, HR professionals and hiring managers can identify areas of improvement, assess the impact of process changes, and measure the effectiveness of cost-saving strategies.
  4. Benchmarking: CPH benchmarks allow organizations to compare their recruitment costs against industry averages or competitors. Benchmarking helps HR professionals and hiring managers gain insights into industry standards and identify opportunities for cost optimization or efficiency improvements.
  5. Return on Investment (ROI) Analysis: CPH is an essential component in calculating the ROI of recruitment efforts. By comparing the costs incurred with the value delivered by hired employees, organizations can evaluate the efficiency and effectiveness of their recruitment strategies, enabling data-driven decision-making.
  6. Strategic Planning: Understanding CPH enables HR professionals and hiring managers to align recruitment strategies with organizational goals and objectives. It facilitates the development of long-term plans, including workforce planning, succession planning, and talent acquisition strategies that support overall business growth.

Key Factors Influencing CPH

Several key factors influence CPH and contribute to the overall expenses incurred during the recruitment process. It is crucial for HR professionals and hiring managers to have an overview of these factors to make informed decisions and optimize recruitment costs. The key factors influencing CPH include:

  1. Economic Factors: Economic conditions, such as local and national unemployment rates, market demand for specific skills, and the cost of living in the region, significantly impact CPH. Understanding the economic landscape helps organizations assess the availability of talent, market competition, and the associated costs of attracting and hiring candidates.
  2. Industry-Specific Factors: Different industries have unique characteristics that influence recruitment costs. Factors such as skill requirements, competition level, and seasonal fluctuations impact the cost and availability of talent. HR professionals and hiring managers need to consider these industry-specific dynamics when estimating and managing CPH.
  3. Company-Specific Factors: Each organization has its own internal dynamics that affect CPH. Factors such as organizational size, recruitment process efficiency, and employer branding influence the costs associated with hiring. By identifying and addressing these company-specific factors, HR professionals and hiring managers can optimize recruitment strategies and reduce CPH.

By considering these key factors and tailoring recruitment strategies accordingly, organizations can effectively manage CPH, improve recruitment efficiency, and make cost-effective hiring decisions.

Factors Affecting CPH

Economic Factors

Economic conditions greatly impact the cost of hiring new employees. Understanding these factors helps HR professionals and hiring managers navigate recruitment budgets effectively. Key economic factors influencing CPH include:

  • Local and national unemployment rates: Higher unemployment rates typically result in a larger pool of candidates, potentially lowering CPH as employers have more options to choose from.
  • Market demand for specific skills: High-demand skills can drive up recruitment costs as companies compete for top talent, potentially increasing CPH.
  • Cost of living in the region: Higher living costs in certain areas may affect salary expectations, relocation expenses, and overall CPH.

Industry-Specific Factors

Different industries have unique characteristics that influence the cost of hiring. It's essential for HR professionals and hiring managers to be aware of these factors and their implications. Some industry-specific factors affecting CPH are:

  • Skill requirements: Industries that require specialized skills or certifications may face higher recruitment costs due to limited talent pools and the need for extensive screening and assessment processes.
  • Competition level: Highly competitive industries often need to invest more in attracting and retaining talent, which can increase CPH.
  • Seasonal fluctuations: Industries with seasonal demand variations may experience fluctuations in CPH depending on the time of year and recruitment needs.

Company-Specific Factors

Each organization has its own dynamics that impact CPH. By understanding these factors, HR professionals and hiring managers can identify areas for improvement and cost-saving opportunities. Relevant company-specific factors include:

  • Organizational size: Large companies typically handle a higher volume of hires, which can affect economies of scale and CPH.
  • Recruitment process efficiency: Streamlined and efficient hiring processes can reduce time-to-fill and associated costs, positively impacting CPH.
  • Employer branding: A strong employer brand can attract qualified candidates organically and potentially lower recruitment costs.

How to Calculate Cost Per Hire (CPH)?

To effectively manage CPH, it is crucial to calculate it accurately. The CPH formula consists of several components, each representing different cost elements. Understanding these components helps HR professionals and hiring managers gain insights into their recruitment expenses. The formula for calculating CPH is:

CPH = (Internal Costs + External Costs) / Total Number of Hires

Internal Costs

Internal costs encompass expenses incurred directly by the organization during the recruitment process. Examples of internal costs include:

  • Employee salaries and benefits for HR staff involved in hiring processes
  • Cost of recruitment software and applicant tracking systems
  • Marketing and advertising expenses for job postings
  • Costs associated with pre-employment testing and assessments
  • Background checks and reference verifications

To minimize internal costs, consider the following strategies:

  • Automating repetitive tasks using technology and recruitment software
  • Implementing efficient applicant tracking systems to streamline candidate management
  • Leveraging internal employee referral programs to tap into existing talent networks

External Costs

External costs refer to expenses incurred by engaging external resources and services during the recruitment process. Examples of external costs include:

  • Fees paid to recruitment agencies or headhunters
  • Advertising costs on external job boards and career websites
  • Costs associated with background checks conducted by third-party providers
  • Expenses related to organizing and conducting job fairs or recruitment events

To minimize external costs, consider the following strategies:

  • Developing strong in-house recruitment capabilities to reduce reliance on external agencies
  • Leveraging social media platforms and professional networks for cost-effective candidate sourcing
  • Building relationships with educational institutions and professional organizations for targeted talent acquisition

Direct Costs

Direct costs are the specific, quantifiable expenses incurred during the hiring process. These costs are directly attributed to the recruitment of a new employee. Examples of direct costs include:

  • Advertising costs: Expenses related to job advertisements, including placement fees and media purchases.
  • Travel expenses: Costs associated with candidate travel, including airfare, accommodation, and transportation for interviews or assessment centers.
  • Relocation expenses: Costs incurred when relocating a candidate to a new location, such as moving services, temporary housing, and reimbursement for travel.
  • Signing bonuses and incentives: Additional monetary rewards offered to candidates to secure their acceptance of a job offer.

To minimize direct costs, consider the following strategies:

  • Leveraging digital marketing techniques and social media platforms for targeted and cost-effective job advertising.
  • Utilizing video conferencing and virtual interviews to reduce travel expenses.
  • Exploring remote work and flexible relocation policies to minimize relocation costs.
  • Evaluating the necessity and effectiveness of signing bonuses and incentives on a case-by-case basis.

Indirect Costs

Indirect costs refer to expenses that are not directly associated with the hiring process but have an impact on overall recruitment expenditures. These costs may be less visible but can significantly affect CPH. Examples of indirect costs include:

  • Onboarding and training costs: Expenses related to orienting new employees, providing training programs, and allocating resources for their integration into the organization.
  • Productivity loss: The potential decrease in productivity during the onboarding and training period as new employees ramp up their skills and knowledge.
  • Time spent on recruitment: The hours invested by HR professionals, hiring managers, and other employees involved in the hiring process, which could be allocated to other tasks.

To minimize indirect costs, consider the following strategies:

  • Implementing robust onboarding programs to accelerate new employees' integration and reduce training time.
  • Offering mentorship programs to facilitate knowledge transfer and support new hires during the initial stages.
  • Optimizing the recruitment process to minimize time-to-fill, allowing HR professionals and hiring managers to focus on other strategic initiatives.

Internal Costs

Internal costs are the expenses incurred by an organization due to the involvement of internal resources in the recruitment process. These costs may not always have a direct monetary value but still contribute to the overall CPH. Examples of internal costs include:

  • HR staff salaries: The time and effort spent by HR professionals in sourcing, screening, and interviewing candidates.
  • Administrative overheads: The administrative tasks associated with processing applications, coordinating interviews, and managing candidate communications.
  • HR technology and systems: The cost of maintaining and updating recruitment software, applicant tracking systems, and other HR technologies.
  • Training and development: The investment in training HR staff to enhance their recruitment skills and knowledge.

To minimize internal costs, consider the following strategies:

  • Implementing efficient HR processes and technologies to streamline recruitment tasks and reduce the time spent by HR staff.
  • Providing training and professional development opportunities to HR professionals to enhance their recruitment expertise.
  • Leveraging automation and artificial intelligence tools to streamline administrative tasks and optimize recruitment workflows.

External Costs

External costs are the expenses incurred by an organization when utilizing external resources and services during the recruitment process. These costs involve engaging third-party providers or agencies. Examples of external costs include:

  • Recruitment agency fees: The charges levied by recruitment agencies or headhunters for sourcing and vetting candidates.
  • Advertising costs: Expenses related to job postings on external job boards, career websites, and other advertising channels.
  • Background checks and assessments: The cost of conducting background checks, skills assessments, and other pre-employment tests through external providers.
  • Recruitment events and career fairs: The expenses associated with organizing and participating in recruitment events, including booth rentals and promotional materials.

To minimize external costs, consider the following strategies:

  • Building strong employer branding and utilizing employee referrals to reduce reliance on recruitment agencies.
  • Maximizing the use of free or low-cost job posting platforms and leveraging social media for targeted candidate outreach.
  • Conducting initial screening and assessments in-house to reduce the need for external testing services.
  • Participating in virtual career fairs and online recruitment events to minimize costs associated with physical events.

How to Track and Measure CPH?

To effectively manage CPH, it is essential to track and measure it regularly. This allows HR professionals and hiring managers to identify trends, areas of improvement, and potential cost-saving opportunities. Key metrics and indicators for tracking and measuring CPH include:

  • CPH over time: Comparing CPH data over different periods, such as monthly, quarterly, or annually, to identify trends and patterns.
  • CPH by job position: Analyzing CPH for different job positions to understand variations and identify areas for cost optimization.
  • CPH by recruitment source: Evaluating CPH based on the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of different recruitment channels and sources.
  • Time-to-fill: Measuring the time taken to fill job vacancies to identify bottlenecks and potential areas for process improvement.

To track and measure CPH effectively, consider utilizing the following tools and software:

  • Applicant tracking systems (ATS): ATS platforms allow for streamlined candidate management and provide insights into the recruitment process, including CPH.
  • HR analytics software: These tools help HR professionals extract and analyze recruitment data, including CPH, to generate actionable insights.
  • Cost tracking spreadsheets: Creating customized spreadsheets to track recruitment expenses, categorize costs, and calculate CPH.

CPH Benchmarks and Industry Standards

Benchmarking CPH against industry standards provides HR professionals and hiring managers with a reference point to assess their organization's performance. By comparing their CPH to industry averages, they can identify areas for improvement and set realistic goals. Consider the following when using benchmarks:

  • Industry-specific benchmarks: Research industry-specific sources, such as professional associations or recruitment publications, to access reliable CPH benchmarks.
  • Utilizing external data sources: Leverage data from third-party providers or consult industry reports to gain insights into industry-wide CPH averages.
  • Considering organization size and industry: Take into account the organization's size, industry, and geographical location when comparing CPH benchmarks, as these factors can significantly influence recruitment costs.

Using benchmarks effectively involves:

  • Regularly updating benchmark data to ensure accuracy and relevance.
  • Analyzing the gaps between your organization's CPH and industry averages.
  • Identifying areas for improvement and implementing strategies to optimize CPH.

How to Reduce Cost Per Hire?

Reducing CPH requires a comprehensive approach that involves streamlining processes, leveraging technology, enhancing employer branding, and optimizing candidate selection. Consider implementing the following strategies:

Streamlining the Recruitment Process

  • Conducting thorough job analysis to define precise job requirements and avoid unnecessary delays or revisions.
  • Simplifying and standardizing job descriptions to attract qualified candidates efficiently.
  • Optimizing the screening process to identify the most suitable candidates early on.

Leveraging Technology and Automation

  • Utilizing applicant tracking systems (ATS) to automate candidate sourcing, tracking, and communication.
  • Implementing AI-powered chatbots to handle initial candidate interactions and FAQs, reducing HR staff workload.
  • Leveraging online skills assessments and video interviewing platforms to streamline candidate evaluation and selection.

Enhancing Employer Branding and Employee Referrals

  • Developing a compelling employer brand that highlights the organization's culture, values, and opportunities for growth.
  • Encouraging employee referrals by offering incentives and creating referral programs.
  • Building a positive candidate experience to increase the likelihood of attracting high-quality candidates.

Improving Candidate Screening and Selection Processes

  • Implementing effective pre-employment assessments to identify candidates with the right skills and cultural fit.
  • Conducting structured interviews with standardized questions and evaluation criteria to ensure fair and consistent candidate assessments.
  • Utilizing behavioral-based interviewing techniques to gain insights into candidates' past experiences and performance.

Developing Effective Onboarding Programs

  • Designing onboarding programs that provide new hires with the necessary information, resources, and support to accelerate their integration into the organization.
  • Assigning mentors or buddies to guide new employees during the onboarding process.
  • Collecting feedback from new hires to continually improve the onboarding experience.

Cost-Effective Hiring Channels

Choosing the right hiring channels is crucial for optimizing recruitment costs and reaching the desired talent pool. Different channels have varying costs and effectiveness levels. Consider the following options:

  • Internal job postings: Advertising job vacancies internally before seeking external candidates.
  • Employee referral programs: Encouraging employees to refer qualified candidates from their networks.
  • Social media and online platforms: Utilizing social media platforms and professional networks for targeted candidate outreach.
  • Industry-specific job boards: Posting job ads on specialized job boards catering to specific industries or professions.
  • Networking events and career fairs: Participating in industry-specific events to connect with potential candidates.
  • University and college partnerships: Establishing relationships with educational institutions to access fresh talent.

When selecting hiring channels, consider the following factors:

  • Target audience: Determine the channels most likely to reach the desired candidate pool.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Evaluate the costs associated with each channel relative to the quality of candidates attracted.
  • Time-to-fill: Assess the speed at which each channel can generate viable candidates.

Cost Per Hire vs. Quality of Hire

While controlling costs is important, it is equally essential to consider the quality of hires. Simply focusing on minimizing CPH without considering the quality of candidates can lead to negative long-term impacts. Balancing cost considerations with hiring quality involves:

  • Defining hiring criteria: Clearly outlining the necessary qualifications, skills, and experience required for each position.
  • Conducting thorough screening and assessment: Implementing robust screening processes to evaluate candidates' skills, cultural fit, and potential for growth.
  • Evaluating employee retention and performance: Monitoring the long-term success and performance of hired candidates to assess the quality of hires.

Legal Considerations

Compliance with employment laws and regulations is critical throughout the hiring process. Non-compliance can result in legal consequences and additional costs. Consider the following legal considerations:

  • Equal employment opportunity (EEO): Ensuring fair and non-discriminatory practices in hiring and selection.
  • Privacy and data protection: Safeguarding candidate information and complying with data protection regulations.
  • Background checks and references: Adhering to legal requirements when conducting background checks and verifying references.
  • Employment contracts and agreements: Ensuring that employment contracts comply with relevant labor laws and protect both the organization and the employee.

To mitigate legal risks and associated costs, consider the following strategies:

  • Regularly reviewing and updating hiring policies and procedures to align with changing laws and regulations.
  • Consulting with legal professionals or employment experts to ensure compliance.
  • Implementing proper documentation practices to maintain records of hiring decisions and processes.

Cost Per Hire Reporting and Analysis

Creating regular reports and conducting thorough analysis of CPH data helps identify trends, measure the effectiveness of cost-saving strategies, and make data-driven decisions. Key steps in cost per hire reporting and analysis include:

  1. Data collection: Gather data on recruitment expenses, including both direct and indirect costs, across different stages of the hiring process.
  2. Data categorization: Organize and categorize costs to provide a clear breakdown of each component contributing to CPH.
  3. Calculation and comparison: Calculate CPH for different positions, departments, or time periods, and compare them to previous data or industry benchmarks.
  4. Identification of cost drivers: Analyze the factors influencing high or low CPH, such as specific recruitment channels, departments, or external providers.
  5. Identification of cost-saving opportunities: Identify areas where costs can be reduced or optimized, such as streamlining processes, leveraging technology, or renegotiating contracts.
  6. Actionable insights and decision-making: Utilize the analysis findings to make data-driven decisions, implement cost-saving strategies, and improve overall recruitment efficiency.

To facilitate cost per hire reporting and analysis, consider utilizing HR analytics software or developing customized spreadsheets to streamline data collection and automate calculations.


Effectively managing Cost Per Hire (CPH) is essential for HR professionals and hiring managers to control recruitment expenses, optimize hiring processes, and attract high-quality talent. By understanding the factors influencing CPH, calculating it accurately, implementing cost-saving strategies, and leveraging industry benchmarks, organizations can achieve optimal recruitment efficiency while maintaining the quality of hires. Regular tracking, analysis, and continuous improvement are key to successfully managing CPH and driving overall organizational success.