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Aug 16, 2018

I could not control laughing when I had an executive and business leader tell me this while I was presenting his teams recruiting performance against industry standards. It was somewhat of a self-defense mechanism, but at that time a laugh was all that would come out. How could all my precious data, that clearly shows a story of success, be considered bull excrement? I painstakingly verified the thousands of lines of information, verified its accuracy and compared it to industry standards; this was not the response I was expecting. Then the lightbulb went off. This was a huge learning moment for me that fundamentally changed the way I looked at recruiting metrics and the value/purpose of data. Here are three key takeaways I have learned when dealing with data and recruiting metrics.

The Only Metrics That Matter, Are the Metrics That Matter

The industry champions time to fill, time to hire, quality of hire, submit to hire, etc., but are these relevant to the goals of the company and the challenges that they are facing? If the company is struggling with employee attrition, and you are patting yourself on the back for time to hire, your praise will fall on deaf ears. No one cares how quickly you get someone in the front door if they are out the back door just as quickly. (Side note: retention/attrition is great to track, but is more of an indication of management performance, rather than a recruitment metric.)

Different metrics will be indicators of success and failures of certain parts of your team’s talent acquisition, and it is important that whatever you are tracking, it is defined and understood. Most importantly, define what success looks like regarding numbers.

Tip for improvement – Present a range of metrics and possible reporting scenarios to the leadership of your organization and explain the what, why and how of each.

What is being measured

Why it is being measured

How it is being measured

Determine from this, what makes sense with the business operation goals of your company and most importantly, determine what is a success and execute to that. Industry performance metrics, which are readily available, can be used to help set those benchmarks. The single most important part of recruiting metrics is getting “buy-in” from operations and executive management, on what successful recruitment execution looks like using agreed metrics. If this is not done talent acquisition will forever be chasing a moving target.


Metrics Should Be Gauged for Effectiveness and Be Driven by Market Conditions

Remember tracking 100+ phone calls a day? Or requiring 60 candidates be entered into the system a day and ten submits a week? Well in 2008 when I was recruiting for entry-level helpdesk jobs staffing call centers, these numbers were obtainable, but not for cleared developers in 2018. Just as it is crucial to set understood and agreed on metrics, it is just as important to revisit them quarterly. Organizations are continually digging into and changing financials and business development budgets/forecasts, make sure you are looking at your recruiting metrics in the same way and discussing how market conditions have affected the outcome in a positive/negative manner.

 Supply and Demand are going to be the number one influencer in your metrics, and setting unattainable goals for your team is not a strategy to drive increased performance. I have seen this time after time. “We are not receiving enough candidate submittals, let’s increase their metrics and demand more submits!” Every position has a potentially different source funnel, and certain activities can be viewed as wasted time for certain niche positions.

Conversely, in this candidate market, perceived time wasters can be essential to sourcing the right candidate. When you are looking for a polka-dotted purple squirrel, you may spend much more time researching, reading blogs, communicating via social media and going down the rabbit hole on Reddit to identify the breadcrumbs that eventually lead you to the right candidate. These are activities that from the outside looking in seem like goofing off, but they are essential to building rapport and approaching the candidate with credibility and confidence once you have them in your sights. Telling the resourceful and strategic recruiter to get on the phone and make 100 phone calls a day, when we have established there is no one to call, is nonsense. Make sure your metrics are incenting and tracking the behaviors that lead to success, not hindering it.


If You Can’t Answer the Question “Why,” Your Credibility Is Lost 

From as basic as “why are we failing/succeeding?” to using past performance and market conditions to determine future recruiting strategy, you need to have an answer backed with data.

For example, If the team is not successful on a specific recruiting project, stating there is a limited candidate pool in the market you are recruiting for is excellent information, but you need to know why. Is it because your competition is paying more? Maybe you are looking for a legacy skillset/certification that candidates are no longer pursuing. Whatever the reason you need to know why then you can answer the how. How do you find these people?


Question: Why is recruiting not finding these people?

Bad Answer:

I don’t know, we are working all day but are running out of people to contact, and nobody is calling us back.”

Good Answer:

“We have identified an active candidate pool of 300 people, reached out to 150 a day via phone, email and text message. Of those, we spoke to 30 people who are all qualified for the position. 15 of those people are interested but are requiring salaries higher than we are currently paying. Qualified candidates are requesting 10-15,000 over our salary, and some of those candidates have offers in hand from our competition at that level. We have also heard that “Company XYZ” is hiring ten of these engineers in the area, paying more than us.”

Using the data that your team organically uncovers in their day to day activity not only gives you a basis on how you may need to adjust your strategy but when stored in your ATS for easy recall, this can be used for market intelligence and competitive data down the road.


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