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The Ultimate Guide to Cost per Hire Calculations

This comprehensive guide dives into cost per hire (CPH), empowering you to calculate, analyze, and optimize your recruitment spending for maximum efficiency and impact.


Let's talk about cost per hire, the secret sauce to optimising your recruitment budgets. Understanding this magic number is crucial for any business looking to streamline its hiring process without breaking the bank. 

Whether you're a small startup or a large enterprise, getting a grip on your recruitment costs is the first step towards building a stellar team efficiently. 

So, buckle up as we dive into the world of cost per hire calculations and how to master them for your business's benefit.

Understanding Cost per Hire
Definition of Cost per Hire

Cost per Hire (CPH) is a metric used by human resources (HR) departments to determine the average expense incurred to hire a new employee. This includes various expenses from advertising job openings, recruiting staff time, to the administrative costs of new hire paperwork. 

Understanding and calculating CPH accurately can provide insights into the efficiency and effectiveness of a company's recruitment process.

Importance of Calculating Cost per Hire

Calculating Cost per Hire is crucial for businesses aiming to optimise their recruitment budgets. By understanding where exactly the money is going, companies can identify areas of inefficiency or overspending. 

More importantly, a clear picture of CPH helps businesses compare the return on investment (ROI) of different recruitment strategies and channels, enabling them to allocate resources more effectively and potentially lower the overall cost of hiring in the long run.

Components of Cost per Hire

Understanding the components of Cost per Hire is essential for accurate calculations. Costs can be broadly categorised into direct costs, indirect costs, and hidden costs.

Direct Costs

Direct costs are the most straightforward and easier to calculate. They include:

  • Advertising and job posting fees.
  • Background check and drug test expenses.
  • Recruitment event costs.
  • Relocation expenses for new hires.
  • Signing bonuses and agency fees.

These are expenses that can be directly tied to the recruitment process and are often the first to be evaluated when looking to reduce recruitment costs.

Indirect Costs

Indirect costs might not be as obvious as direct costs but can significantly affect the total cost of hiring. They include:

  • HR and recruitment team salaries.
  • Training time and materials for new employees.
  • Administrative expenses, such as interview scheduling and candidate communication.

Because these are not directly billed costs, companies sometimes overlook them when calculating Cost per Hire, despite their impact.

Hidden Costs

Hidden costs are perhaps the most challenging to quantify but are crucial for a comprehensive understanding of Cost per Hire. These might include:

  • The opportunity cost of vacant positions.
  • The impact of a bad hire on team productivity.
  • Employee referral program incentives.

Hidden costs often require a deeper analysis and understanding of internal operations to accurately evaluate.

Cost per Hire Calculation Methods

The journey to optimise your recruitment process begins with understanding different methodologies to calculate the cost per hire. 

Let’s dive into the traditional formula before exploring more nuanced models.

Traditional Cost per Hire Formula

The traditional cost per hire formula is straightforward: add up all the internal and external recruiting costs, then divide by the total number of hires in a specific time frame. 

Internal costs might include salaries for your HR team, while external costs can cover job postings, recruiting software subscriptions, and agency fees. 

This method provides a baseline understanding of what each new hire is costing your organisation.

Advanced Cost per Hire Models

For those looking to get a more detailed analysis, advanced cost per hire models delve deeper. These might factor in the quality of hire, turnover rates, and productivity levels of new employees. 

Traditional cost per hire focuses solely on the expenses incurred to acquire a new employee. However, an advanced model incorporates the impact of the new hire's performance and contribution to the organisation. 

One approach is to estimate the return on investment (ROI) for each hire. This involves calculating the net present value of the employee's future contributions (considering factors like salary, productivity, and retention) minus the initial hiring costs. 

By analysing ROI across hires, companies can identify recruitment strategies that bring in employees who deliver greater value in the long run, even if their initial hiring costs are slightly higher.

Predicting Retention: Addressing Turnover Costs

High employee turnover can significantly inflate overall hiring costs. Advanced models incorporate turnover risk assessments, leveraging historical data and employee demographics to predict the likelihood of a new hire leaving the company within a specific timeframe. 

By identifying factors associated with higher turnover risk, organisations can tailor their recruitment strategies to attract candidates with a higher propensity to stay, ultimately reducing hiring costs in the long run.

Measuring Impact: Productivity and Performance Integration

Advanced models can also factor in new employee productivity levels. Integrating performance data allows companies to assess the direct impact of their hiring efforts on business outcomes. 

By analysing the correlation between recruitment strategies and employee productivity, organisations can identify approaches that attract and onboard individuals who contribute more effectively to the company's goals.

Industry Nuances: Tailoring the Model for Accuracy

Remember, the cost per hire landscape varies significantly across industries. Factors like talent competition, required skill sets, and recruitment complexity influence overall costs. For instance, tech companies vying for top engineers might have higher initial hiring costs compared to a retail business filing seasonal positions. 

Recognizing these industry-specific nuances and tailoring your calculation methods accordingly ensures a more accurate and meaningful picture of your hiring effectiveness.

By leveraging advanced cost per hire models, organisations gain a deeper understanding of their recruitment investments and their impact on the overall business. This data-driven approach empowers companies to optimise their hiring strategies, attract high-performing talent, and ultimately maximise the return on their human capital investments.

Benefits of Calculating Cost per Hire

Understanding the cost per hire isn’t just about crunching numbers. It’s about leveraging insights to make informed decisions that benefit your organisation.

Budget Optimization

By accurately calculating cost per hire, businesses can better allocate their recruitment budgets, identifying areas where costs can be reduced without impacting the quality of hires. This might lead to investing more in effective channels or cutting spending on less productive efforts.

Performance Evaluation

Analysing cost per hire over time helps evaluate the performance and efficiency of recruitment strategies. A decreasing trend might indicate process improvements and optimizations, whereas an increase could signal issues needing investigation.


Comparing your organisation’s cost per hire with industry averages offers valuable benchmarking opportunities. This comparison can highlight competitive advantages or reveal areas for improvement, helping to shape a more strategic approach to talent acquisition.

Challenges in Cost per Hire Calculations
Data Accuracy

Ensuring the accuracy of data used in cost per hire calculations can be a tricky affair. From the salaries of recruitment staff to the cost of recruitment software and even the little expenses like coffee for candidates during interviews – everything adds up. 

However, keeping track of every penny can become a logistical nightmare, especially in larger organisations where various departments handle different aspects of the hiring process. Misreporting or overlooking minor costs can lead to significant inaccuracies in the final calculation, skewing the budget and affecting decision-making.

Inconsistent Reporting

Inconsistent reporting across departments is another major headache. Different teams might use various methods and metrics to record their expenses, leading to a lack of standardisation in the data collected. 

This inconsistency makes it challenging to get a clear picture of the overall cost per hire, complicating efforts to benchmark against industry standards or set realistic budgetary goals. Establishing a uniform reporting system is key but often easier said than done.

External Factors Impacting Costs

The recruitment landscape is anything but static. From fluctuating job market conditions to changes in technology and shifts in candidate expectations, numerous external factors can impact recruitment costs. 

Economic downturns, for example, might lead to an increase in applicants per vacancy, potentially reducing direct advertising costs but increasing the time and resources needed to screen candidates. Keeping abreast of these variables and understanding their influence on recruitment costs is essential for accurate cost per hire calculations.

Strategies to Reduce Cost per Hire
Streamlining Recruitment Processes

One of the most effective ways to reduce your cost per hire is by streamlining your recruitment processes. This could include standardising interview protocols, improving job descriptions to attract the right candidates from the get-go, and employing more efficient candidate screening methods. 

Streamlining these processes not only saves money but also speeds up recruitment, helping to fill positions faster and with the right people.

Leveraging Technology

Technology can be a game-changer in reducing recruitment costs. From applicant tracking systems (ATS) that automate the screening process to AI-driven tools that help in sourcing candidates, investing in the right technology can significantly lower the time and money spent on hiring. 

Furthermore, social media and professional networks offer cost-effective platforms for promoting job openings and engaging with potential candidates directly, bypassing traditional—and often pricier—recruitment channels.

Talent Pipeline Development

Building a talent pipeline involves nurturing relationships with potential candidates long before a specific position opens up. This proactive approach to recruitment can lead to substantial savings, as it reduces the need for external advertising and recruitment agencies. 

Engaging with past applicants, leveraging employee referrals, and participating in industry networking events are all effective strategies for developing a talent pipeline. By having a pool of interested and qualified candidates at your fingertips, you can significantly cut down on the time and cost associated with filling vacancies.

Case Studies on Cost per Hire Success Stories
Company A: Implementing Cost per Hire Strategies

Challenge: Company A's recruitment process was plagued by high costs, hindering their ability to invest in crucial areas.

Solution: Driven by a desire for efficiency, Company A embarked on a strategic cost-saving initiative. They implemented robust cost-per-hire strategies which involved:

  • Meticulous expense tracking: Every cost associated with hiring, from job postings and agency fees to staff hours, was meticulously tracked and analysed.
  • Data-driven optimization: This detailed cost analysis allowed them to identify and invest in the most efficient recruitment channels, while eliminating wasteful spending on ineffective methods.

Results: By taking control of their recruitment expenditures, Company A achieved a remarkable 25% reduction in overall costs within just one year. This success story demonstrates the power of conscious cost management and strategic investment in efficient recruitment channels.

Company B: Impact of Cost per Hire Analysis

Challenge: Company B faced a significant financial hurdle – a high cost per hire. This was impacting their overall financial efficiency and limiting their ability to invest in other areas.

Solution: Seeking a solution, Company B conducted a thorough cost per hire analysis. This analysis revealed a key insight: a large portion of their recruitment budget was being allocated to third-party recruitment agencies.

Action: Armed with this information, Company B shifted towards a more cost-effective recruitment model. They implemented two key strategies:

  • In-house recruitment: They transitioned towards building their internal recruitment team, allowing them to gain greater control over the process and reduce agency fees.
  • Social media recruitment: They leveraged social media platforms to actively engage with potential candidates, generating organic leads and reducing reliance on expensive external sources.

Results: Within a short span of six months, these strategic changes yielded impressive results. Company B achieved a remarkable 30% decrease in their cost per hire. This success story demonstrates the impactful role data-driven analysis can play in optimising the recruitment process and driving financial efficiency.

Best Practices for Cost per Hire Calculations
Regular Auditing of Recruitment Costs

A key best practice for managing cost per hire effectively is to conduct regular audits of recruitment costs. This involves periodically reviewing all expenses related to hiring to identify potential inefficiencies or areas for cost saving. By keeping a close eye on spending, organisations can ensure their recruitment strategy remains both effective and economical.

Collaboration between HR and Finance Teams

Effective cost management requires a team effort. Collaboration between HR and finance teams is crucial in optimising recruitment spending. By working together, these departments can create a comprehensive view of hiring expenses, making it easier to allocate budgets efficiently and make informed decisions that benefit the organisation as a whole.

Continuous Improvement Approach

Lastly, adopting a continuous improvement approach to recruitment processes can significantly impact cost per hire. Organisations should always be on the lookout for new strategies, technologies, and methods that can streamline the hiring process and reduce costs. Regularly evaluating and adjusting recruitment practices in response to changing dynamics ensures that companies remain competitive while keeping expenses in check.

Conclusion - Mastering Cost per Hire Calculations for Recruitment Success

Mastering the art of calculating cost per hire is a game-changer for any recruitment strategy. It not only helps you to budget more efficiently but also enables you to refine your recruitment processes. By pinpointing where the most significant expenses lie, you can strategize to lower costs without compromising on the quality of your hires. 

Remember, the goal is to achieve recruitment success by being smart with your calculations and optimizations. Start leveraging the cost per hire formula today, and watch your recruitment efforts reach new heights of efficiency and effectiveness.

Sandra Rachel Oommen

Content Marketer

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