It Doesn’t Matter Where You Came From, It Matters What You Do

Steve Boese Candidate Pool, Performance, Recruiting, Steve Boese

We sometimes go a little crazy in HR and Recruiting with Source of Hire analysis.

Where are the best candidates learning about our company and jobs from?

Which job board (and don’t lie, you still have some job board spend in your budget) yields consistently solid applicants at a reasonable cost?

What about LinkedIn, or the company Facebook page, or your clever little ‘LifeatAcme’ Twitter feed?

Anything good coming from those efforts?

Who knows? Maybe you have an idea and maybe not. Maybe you have a pretty good handle on the best places to source candidates for certain roles and in particular locations. You have ‘go-to’ strategies defined and proven to work well for whatever sourcing challenge is presented.

But even if you do – even if you have those trusty and repeatable candidate sources laid out – I submit, for the most part, you’re probably having solid outcomes due as much to luck as you are to science.

Check the details from a new smartphone app called ‘Saga’ that has been just released in invitation-only beta (and bear with me on this, I’ll tie it back to ‘source of hire’ eventually). Saga uses your phone’s GPS, Wi-Fi connection, and internal accelerometer to track every place that you go, and creates a log with details on the amount of time you spend at each location, and finally, maintains a running and updated history that you can review at any time. According to a recent piece on Fast Company about the Saga app, co-creator Andy Hickl envisions Saga as a tool that “plots how you’re spending time and helps you make better choices. There may, for instance, one day be an alert that goes off as soon as you’ve worked 50 hours in a week or if you forget to eat lunch.”

Take the idea behind Saga, a utility that is always-on, is always logging your comings and goings, keeping a running (and let’s assume accurate), record of your activity and think for a moment of applying it inside the organization, even if only for your personal benefit.

What, really, did you spend your time on this week? With whom, (assuming the app can use the phone’s microphone to handle this), have you been meeting with or calling on the phone? How much time was really spent working on ideas for the new product launch, and how much was mindlessly/endlessly batting emails back and forth?

Who, once they cornered you in the break room ( or interrupted your flow with an ill-timed instant message), wrecked your productivity for the rest of the day?

And on those days or weeks when everything seemed to be working, when you were in the zone and the product shipped and the customer was happy and the boss was able to take lots of credit, what, exactly were you focusing on for all that to happen?

What did you do? Where did you go? Who did you spend the most time interacting with?

What was the secret?

Whatever it was, my guess is that it had probably very little to do with how you came to be hired in the first place. Whether or not you found a job ad on Monster or Craigslist or you are the nephew of the creepy guy in Receiving – whether or not you actually succeed and even excel at work, has about 95% to do with what you actually do each day, and maybe 5% with how you found out about the gig in the first place.

So while in HR and Recruiting we often make a really big deal of understanding our source of hire, and maybe in the enlightened shops, we tie source of hire to eventual job performance, I think mostly any relationship or conclusions we draw from that data are really only have limited value.

Where people come from before they find you, and how they heard about the job in the first place might be interesting, but once they get in the door the only thing that really matters is how they decide to spend their time, effort, energy, and attention.

So here’s my challenge today – instead of figuring out how your last 5 people that just got promoted heard about your company, ask them to tell you about how they have been spending their time. My guess is you’ll learn a lot more about what it takes to succeed at your company,  information that you can look to build on and replicate and that is about a million times more valuable to the CEO than telling her, ‘I think we should up our Careerbuilder spend this quarter.’