Turned On By New Recruiting Metrics? Don’t Kick The Old Ones Out of Bed Yet. 

Dawn Burke A.I., Dawn Burke, Metrics

The heart likes what it likes. I can’t explain why I’m into John Taylor over Simon LeBon.  I just am.  Current marriage not included, I can’t tell you why in my past I’ve been a sucker for overly complex, somewhat intriguing, renaissance men who were exciting, angry, short-tempered and completely incompatible with me. I just did.  Or why I totally fell for a completely introverted filmmaker who was very contemplative, cerebral, artsy, yet a passively aggressive, controlling enabler (but I swear not a bad guy, really).

Actually, yes I do.  Yes, I do know why I fell for these guys.  Because they were exciting.  Angry is exciting.  Being angry/sad/elated/anything to an extreme is exciting. OR in the case of the introvert, he was happy to take a backseat and be a great enabler to my tendency (in the day) to be overly-exciting myself (and then hold it over my head later).   My heart is racing thinking about it.

You know what else got my heart racing for a long time?  Predictive recruiting analytics. Yes, data/metrics to help my team and I predict (like Carnac the Magnificent) what employee profile to hire for before, get this…my hiring manager would.  La-Rowwwll.  And by the looks of the masses flocking around the Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) vendor booth at the 2016 expo-floor at HR tech, lots of others were getting palpitations at the thought of the ever-expanding field of recruiting improvements.

Yes, these are easy to get turned on to. Easy on the eyes and yaaaaassss, easy to show off to your friends (or CEO).

Until it isn’t. Until your realize, those sexy new metrics don’t work for your business.  Until you realize, holy crap, for predictive metrics to work I need 40 data points and a software system capable of aggregating that data.  But, damn, I only hire 35 jobs a year.  I’ve got nothing to predict.  This measure is totally incompatible with my business! Man, I feel like a rube.

So, here is the deal.  I do believe recruiting metrics are really important. I also think Talent Acquisition teams that do not have a way to measure success are not going to be a high-functioning team. But we overthink, we get distracted or we just don’t know where to start. When it comes to deciding what metrics work for you, you only have to ask three questions:

  • What problem is your talent acquisition team trying to solve.
  • What will happen (positively) if we solve the problem.
  • What is the easiest way we can measure success.

That’s it.

For instance:

Let’s me share a personal HR story with you.  Let’s look at the metric I’ve was married to for a long time and certainly took for granted, Time To Fill (TTF).  For many, many years I read this was perhaps the most cliché, non-relevant, boring partner to have.  This metric had been overused because it was easy, but didn’t get the job done (if you know what I mean).  And for many years, TTF was dependable, but not as impactful as I thought I wanted it to be. So, when predictive analytics sashayed my way, my eyes wandered, I became smitten, and I kicked TTF out of bed.

But later, I took a few minutes and asked my team:

  1. What problem are we trying to solve? At the time my company’s hiring managers, due to many competing priorities, were having big, big troubles responding to candidates or providing interview feedback in any sort of timely way.  Trust me, it got bad.  Candidate experience suffered, great candidates were lost, and productivity was being affected by vacancies.  When I asked my team to identify the singular biggest pain point that had to be corrected under our recruiting umbrella, it took little time figure it was response times.
  2. What will happen (positively) if we solve the problem?  In theory, hiring managers would make better decisions since they would remember facts more clearly, decisions would be made faster therefore mitigating vacancy gaps, we would land higher quality candidates by making them a number one priority, the hired candidates would trust our company more since they had a good hiring experience, and the HR team would be more productive since time wasn’t wasted “herding cats”.
  3. What will be the the easiest way we can measure success?  Time To Fill.  This wouldn’t be the only metric to show success, but it will be a compelling data point to share with leaders to help ID (and ultimately measure and correct) a negative trend.  Although TTF can often be abused, in this case it was relevant to help course-correct.

Damn.  Now I really feel like a rube. You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.

So what is the biggest point of all this.  Metrics don’t work, I mean no metrics will work if you don’t know what you are trying to measure, what you are trying to solve, or what you are trying to maintain.  New, better and sexy is awesome – if it works for your company, uplifts your function and helps propel your company forward. But, frankly, if your good-ole-standby is just as affective, don’t assume newer is always better.

So it’s up to you. Remember, you don’t have to marry your good-ole-standby, but you don’t have to kick him out of bed either.