Recruiting Metrics that Will Give You Big Results

Check out iCIMS' latest blog post from guest blogger Sharlyn Lauby. Sharlyn Lauby, SPHR, CPLP is the HR Bartender, whose blog is a friendly place to discuss workplace issues. When she’s not tending bar, Sharlyn is president of ITM Group, Inc., which specializes in training solutions to help clients retain and engage talent. Her off-hours are spent searching for the best hamburger on the planet, fabulous wine that cost less than $10 bottle and unusual iPad apps.

Years ago, I learned about metrics the old-fashioned way (translation: the hard way). Each week at our department manager meeting, I would watch with frustration as my peers’ new ideas and projects were fully supported and funded. But when I shared my ideas, they didn’t quite get the same response. 

I finally figured out what was wrong in my approach. My colleagues talked in terms of numbers and ROI. I talked about what made the employees feel good. And while employee happiness is important, when I could attach a number to it, my ideas got approved too.

Reasons for Recruiting Metrics

The organization will use your numbers not only as a gauge of performance but as the benchmark to take action. For example, let’s say that your company plans to open a new plant.  Metrics will determine when to begin recruiting efforts, how much or how little to spend on recruitment advertising, scheduling initial training efforts…just to name a few.

Groups outside the company will be equally interested in your metrics. Using the example above, if the plant you are opening will bring a lot of new jobs to the area, then maybe you can apply for workforce grant dollars to offset some expenses.

Getting Started

It’s critical to show a connection between your numbers and the operation. Otherwise, it’s like cooking a great meal and not serving it. Metrics must be tied back to business objectives.

The SHRM Metrics toolkit can be a valuable resource for metrics calculations. Listed below are a few common calculations that can be used as a starting point.

Cost Per Hire
Costs involved with a new hire
[Advertising + Agency Fees + Employee Referrals + Travel + Relocation + Recruiter Pay & Benefits]
Number of Hires

Practical Example: A consulting firm needs to know the cost of hiring new positions for a contract they are bidding on. Cost per hire will tell the company how much they need to spend on recruitment once they’re awarded the project.

Turnover Cost
Costs incurred when an employee leaves the organization
Cost to terminate* + Cost per Hire + Vacancy Cost + Learning Curve Loss

*Cost to terminate includes severance, unemployment, exit interviews, legal fees, temp replacements, etc.

Activity: Once you’ve determined turnover cost, have managers multiply the cost by the number of people they’ve hired in their departments during the year. 
Trust me, they will be surprised. When I’ve done this activity, I found managers gained a greater understanding of the investment the company makes into an employee. And they became better at weighing the cost of training versus terminating an employee.

Turnover Rate
Measures rate that employees leave an organization
[# of separations during month ÷ Average # of employees during the month]

Please note:  Define the employee statuses it makes sense to monitor. It might not make sense to track on-call, seasonal or temporary employees. This could skew the statistics for your full-time staff and lead to false conclusions

Time to Fill
Number of days from job requisition approval to new hire start date
Total days to fill requisitions
Number Hired

Practical Example: Let’s say it takes an average of 3 weeks to fill a job requisition. In addition, once a person is hired, it takes another 2 weeks of training for them to become fully productive. This sheds light on when human resources needs to know about the job opening. In this example, a department could be without a fully productive employee for 5 weeks. 

Compiling Data

As you begin to define the metrics to calculate, think about the best ways to collect data.

• Decide who will be responsible for collecting the data. Talk with that employee and get their buy-in. They need to know the “why’s” and “what for’s” in order to make this effort a success.
• Determine the infrastructure that is necessary to collect the data (i.e. log sheets, computer systems, etc.)
• Establish a starting point for the metrics. It can be a daunting task to go backwards in time to capture historical data. Don’t let that hinder the metrics initiative.
• Choose a frequency for distribution (weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually)

The key in reporting data is to find out what your managers want to see. This is an opportunity to demonstrate value. Make your initial reports easy to read. One human resources executive I know puts a ‘red light or green light’ next to metrics, so managers can quickly interpret the results.

It’s really not that hard.

Metrics are a necessary part of business. If you start simple and align your numbers with the business goals and objectives, you are sure to get results. 


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Comment by Stephen Smith on May 23, 2013 at 3:50am

I agree with the author that metrics aren't so hard, but it's establishing a consensus on which metrics are important that's the challenge.

I had a fascinating conversation with a colleague yesterday about the recruitment agency forecasting process, especially when factoring temporary and permanent roles in concert with one another. It's the concept that beneath the surface, certain metrics directly influence the others. That's the level of understanding that Directors should be pursuing.

Thanks for the great post.


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