By: Anna Cowell on June 2nd, 2023

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7 Metrics That Can Improve Your Recruitment Function

Talent Acquisition | Recruitment outsourcing

Would you make product changes or launch a new marketing campaign without knowing where the business stands and tracking to ensure the efforts have the intended effect? Probably not, but companies that pride themselves on being data-driven often don't apply that same analytical rigor to their talent acquisition.

And if they do, recruiting metrics (especially time to fill) tend to be used as a stand-in for success. Tracking industry and national norms like those in the SHRM Benchmarking Talent Access Report offers perspective on how you compare to others in the market.

You don't want to lose talent because you are out of sync with industry standards, but your recruitment process should reflect your company's needs. You want to ensure you track metrics that will offer meaningful insight into your talent acquisition function and help you understand what works and what doesn't.

For example, if your company has a short time to fill and high turnover in the first 90 days, you might focus on a more thoughtful assessment, even if it takes longer. If you have an advertising source sending you thousands of applicants but none you've ever hired, it is time to reconsider that account. At their best, recruitment metrics can help HR leaders set expectations, keep recruiting teams and managers accountable for their roles, and ensure the company spends time and money wisely.

How to Begin Tracking Your Recruitment Metrics

Where do you start if you aren't tracking any recruiting metrics (or aren't sure about the quality of the information you have)? Consider what challenges you consistently hear about talent acquisition from your recruiters and managers. Does the process take too long? Are your recruiters spending time weeding through hundreds of resumes that don't match the needs of the position? Is it too expensive? Are there not enough well-qualified candidates? These are good starting points to explore.

Start with Your Applicant Tracking System

Factor in what you can track reliably and consistently. Your applicant tracking system (ATS) is probably your first stop. Review the standard reports your ATS offers. They will likely include some basics like time-to-fill, source of hire, and number of requisitions in a given time. Review how the system defines and calculates these terms so you are sure of what you are measuring. You can often use these reports as a base to customize or create unique reports.

You want to ensure everyone with access to the ATS actively and expediently moves candidates through the system. Everyone needs to be using it in the same way to ensure you are gathering accurate information.

Consider Your Internal Processes

Be mindful of internal processes that might be impacting your metrics. For example, do you have a required internal posting period, or do you only post a requisition after the recruiter has the intake call with the hiring manager, or do you leave a position posted until the background check comes back? If you find you have many requisitions canceled or put on hold indefinitely and you only track requisitions closed, you aren't fully capturing the recruitment workload. If you don't count verbal offers rejected, you might be missing most or all the rejected offers. All of these can be a necessary part of your process but influence your metrics.

If you find inconsistencies in your data or there hasn't been strong ATS usage in the past, you may want to run the reports as a baseline but acknowledge that it isn't perfect. You may also need to hold off on running reports until you've had a chance to update your processes, train users, and collect data you can report on.  

7 Best Recruitment Metrics to Track

Some of the most beneficial metrics you might want to consider tracking include:

  1. Time to fill- generally the time between when a requisition is opened until an offer is accepted. This is generally calculated as the mean, but looking at the median and mode to get a stronger sense of what is typical can be helpful if you have a large range of significant variation in your data.
  2. The source of application/hire- this can be the candidate reported when they apply for the position or tracked by the ATS.
  3. The number of hires- you may want to look at this on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis.
  4. Offer acceptance- of all the offers extended, the percentage accepted.
  5. Time in status- how many days a candidate spent in status in the ATS, i.e., applied (not reviewed), submitted to the manager, interview.
  6. Average applicants per requisition the number of people who applied to each requisition.
  7. Days to hire candidate applies- how many days is the requisition open before the candidate you hire applies?
Review the data

Once you've established what you will track and how you will define your metrics, look at the generated data. Is there outlier data that is skewing your metrics? For example, did you accidentally hire someone into an evergreen requisition, so it looks like one of your positions took 732 days to fill? Or you have a handful of requisitions where someone was hired after 3-5 days of a requisition being opened because your process requires that posting period. If so, you might consider excluding the extremes from your metrics.

The goal with recruitment metrics is to tell your company's recruitment story, not capture every data point. You want to be able to explain the process through data things like:

  • How long should a manager expect coverage for a backfill position after submitting a requisition?
  • Do some teams take much longer than others to share candidate feedback?
  • Are there trends or themes that stand out overall or within particular hiring teams, positions, or recruiters?
  • Are there sources that under or overperform?
Determine how frequently you will track the metrics 

For most companies, quarterly and annual metrics will have the most meaningful information, although you might want to break them down by month. Especially after a year or more, you might want to break them down by team or department, type of position, and/or recruiter.

This may seem like too much math! Fortunately, Excel or Google Sheets will do most of the data analysis work. And many companies have data analytics or program evaluation teams already. Reach out to them for guidance and best practices as you tackle your data.

Put the data to work

Once you've established what metrics you will track and trained everyone on the necessary changes to generate the data, it seems like the heavy lifting should be over. This is just the start.

The goal isn't to be able to say your time to fill is three days less than the national average for exempt positions or to be able to add a few statistics to a year-end slide deck. If you ask your recruitment team to make changes, follow new processes, and take the time to compile the data, you want to use it!

Share the information internally and approach all stakeholders with genuine curiosity on how to use this information to improve. Is your current time to fill not serving the needs of the business? Are your current advertising sources not as effective as they could be? Do too many of your offers get declined?

Get feedback

Ask your recruiters and teams that frequently hire for ideas on what could be done differently. If there are recruiters or hiring managers that don't seem as effective, understand the context. A team with specialized and senior roles will take longer to hire than interns or administrative assistants, but if they are also slow to respond when they have candidates, then having data on how long it takes them to provide feedback on resumes will make for a stronger case for them to change.

Don't forget to look at what's going well and tell that story too. Brag about the great things your recruiting team is doing and look for ways to build on that success.

Use the data to make more informed decisions

Finally, use this information to steer your planning. Is your hiring consistent across the year, or do you have peaks and valleys? Does time-to-fill go up too high when you hit a certain number of open requisitions? Do you open 40% of your positions during the first quarter of your fiscal year? Is it always slow during the same few months of the year? You might need to bring in additional resources during these times and plan for training or other projects when the volume tends to be lower.

Now that you have good data, you have another great tool to help your internal clients understand recruitment and a mechanism to determine whether your recruitment function is meeting the needs of your business. You're better positioned to hold both recruiters and hiring teams responsible for ensuring successful hires!

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