Is the focus on Time to Fill hurting candidate quality?

We've had a lot of conversations with recruiting organizations over the past few months about their recruiting processes  and strategies.  And one feeling that keeps coming up is that they feel like they are becoming too process oriented.  They feel hijacked by their requisition based process and feel like their recruiting teams are focused on and rewarded for the wrong activities (i.e. pushing candidates along the process instead of finding the best candidates).  They are filling jobs but don't feel like they are bringing in the best quality candidates for their organization.

Analyzing Time to Fill

Time to Fill has been used to measure the effectiveness of recruiters for a long time.  And the metric is really trying to get how well recruiters are at meeting the human capital needs of the organization.  And while it's something that should be measured and used as a data point, there are a few flaws in the outcomes it promotes.

First, Time to Fill rarely factors in the quality of the candidate that is ultimately hired.  A recruiter will get credit any filled requisition and thus is incentivized to move candidates along the process as fast as possible.  Second, in many cases Time to Fill can be affected by many factors outside of the recruiter's control such as the hiring manager interview process.   Third, it stops at the hire stage and doesn't take into affect how successful the hire is at the organization, which is something that should be measured and reported alongside this metric.

Alternatives to Time to Fill

While Time to Fill can be a data point when evaluating your recruiting team, it shouldn't be the only measure of success.  There are some other alternatives that you may also want to look into.   For this, I'd recommend a look at Jessica Lee's post "Move Over "Time to Fill" Metric".  There are some nice ideas on metrics that may better reward recruiters for the right activities.

A few of note, include:

  • Quality of Hire: This will give you a measure of the satisfaction of the Hiring manager over the hire of an employee over certain time intervals.  While this would require your organization to be able to measure employee performance and match it back to a recruiter and source, it is something that should be measured.
  • Number of candidates per hire: This focuses on the recruiter's ability to present high quality candidates to hiring managers.  Thanks to Dwayne Lay for this one.
  • Time to Present Candidate: Measuring the time recruiter's need to present qualified candidates to the hiring manager.

Focus on Quality Metrics

In addition to time and process metrics, I see organizations wanting to have a greater focus on measuring candidate quality for all the recruitment marketing activities they do.  From the recruitment sources they market through to candidate sourcing campaigns to Talent Network marketing initiatives, they want to understand the activities that their recruiting team are executing that are bringing in the most qualified candidates.  With the hope of improving their recruitment marketing mix to drive more quality through their recruitment strategy.

When I speak about quality, I'm not just talking about Quality of Hire although that's important.  You will also want to measure sources and activities (job boards, search engines, sourcing, Career Site, Talent Network, marketing campaigns, social networks, etc.)  based on what you determine a qualified candidate to be in your process.  Is it getting screened by your recruiters?  Is it successfully getting to the 2nd stage of the interview process?  Is it getting to the final stages?  Once you figure out how to classify candidates, it's time to use your ATS and your recruitment marketing technology provider to begin measuring candidates that reach these classifications and track it back to the originating source.  This will give you a clearer view of where qualified candidates are coming from and what actions are really driving quality in your recruitment strategy.

Getting away from Requisition based thinking

For many organizations, their process is dictated by the requisition process of their ATS.  They have new requisitions come up to their process and they task their recruiters to find talent to fill this requisition.  Unfortunately, for some organizations they start anew for every requisition.  However, there are a number of organizations that are trying to turn this thought process on its head and focus more on finding quality candidates and less on filling specific requisitions.

There are a few schools of thought here that may be of interest.  First, is the idea of focusing on skills and culture fit in candidates first and screening them before you ever put them to a job.  Only after they are through the initial vetting process will they be matched to a specific open job requisition by a recruiter.  In this way, the company tries to ensure company and skill fit before they put them to a requisition and present them to hiring managers.  They create a pool of qualified candidates for recruiters to best match candidates to the right jobs to hopefully ensure better matches for candidates and hiring managers.

Second, is the concept of creating relationships with candidates through a Talent Network before a job position opens up. In doing this you are building targeted pipelines based on skills and culture fit that align with your organization and in a perfect world, providing mass customized messaging to the specific candidate populations.

Organizations are understanding the need to create better more lasting relationships with quality candidates in their process as it offers many important benefits.  By creating a Talent Network, you have the potential to turnaround job requisitions quicker with qualified candidates as you've already done the work to find and qualify the candidate and can tap that resource when a new opportunity is available.  Also, if done correctly, you should be able to have more information on these candidates as you've known them longer to be able to screen and test fit.

In terms of measuring the success of these initiatives, organizations are starting to measure this with new recruitment metrics.  Metrics like length of relationship until apply and source of influence are helping figure out how to better engage and create these relationships.  Also, just as important, the Talent Network needs to be measured side by side against all other initiatives from job distribution to proactive sourcing, in it's ability to drive qualified candidates and hires into the process.

Improving Candidate Quality

To improve the quality of your candidate population, you need to first know what activities and sources are driving qualified candidates into your process.  This starts with defining what a qualified candidate means to your organization in terms of skill-set and culture fit.  And then goes into the metrics you use to determine success of the hires you make.  While Time to Fill and Cost per Hire are data points to be taken in consideration, quality metrics like Quality of Hire and Quality of source can and should be used to determine the success of the hiring team and the initiatives they are executing.  It's with these metrics that you can begin to improve your process to find more successful hires.

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