Cost to Hire an Employee

By Sian Brannon

Have you ever considered what it costs to fill an open position in your library? Whatever type of library or position, there are tangible (or visible) costs you will incur, such as job posting site fees. More impactful to the total cost of hiring, however, are the ‘invisible’ costs of time involved. People involved include human resources, administrative assistants, supervisors, and search committees. 

Even before you start a search process, you have costs related to shifting work to other employees which may include changes in their technological set-up. In addition, you have lost productivity due to the vacancy. When starting a search, there is time devoted to forming a committee and completing paperwork. Recruiting might involve a number of different people, a search firm, and posting fees. Then you (and your search team) have to review applications and select people for interviews. Interviews themselves can often be timely, especially in full-day academic library ones. On interview day, you might have tours, meetings with multiple departments, meals, and transportation reimbursement costs. 

After surviving the interviews, you still have to take time to make a decision, come up with an offer, and complete more paperwork. Add in the cost of onboarding the new employee and you could be talking about thousands of dollars. This is why industry experts indicate that it can be cheaper to develop succession plans and help someone already in the organization develop new expertise.  

In a recent search for a faculty-equivalent Associate Dean at the University of North Texas Library, we tracked the amount of time each step took, which people were involved, and what tangible costs there were. By using the salaries of each person involved broken into an hourly rate, we were able to calculate that our months-long process took over $30,000.  

If you’d like to take a try at computing how much it costs your organization to fill a particular position, a template is available in the University of North Texas Scholarly Works repository.  Please note that it does not provide for lost productivity or onboarding costs. 

Key Takeaway: When possible, consider hiring someone already in your library and help them develop the expertise required to fill your vacancy.

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About the author: Sian Brannon is the Senior Associate Dean at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas. Before her thirteen years in academic libraries, she spent nine as a public librarian working mostly in technical services.