Can You Help Me Answer These Recruiting Questions?

This week, I thought I’d throw out a bunch of recruiting related questions that I’m curious about. Some may be easy to answer (and I’m just to lazy to do so), some hard, and some may have to be re-stated/re-defined.

Do you have any answers?

Objective Questions

How many people get hired full time in the U.S.? How many people get hired part time, temp, or on contract in the U.S.? How many recruiters of all types are there?

How many corporate, contract, and third-party recruiters are there?

How many people get a call from any kind of recruiter in the course of a year or their career? How many people get a call from a third-party recruiter in the course of a year or their career?

What percentage of all hires come from third-party recruiters? What percentage of executives hires come from third-party recruiters?

What is the median income of corporate, contract, and third-party recruiter?

What is the median cost per hire (as recently defined) for all positions? Has it improved in the last 30 years?

What is the median time to hire for all positions? Has it improved in the last 30 years?

Subjective Questions

What are some good, easy, and cheap alternatives to resumes?

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How much information about a candidate is enough? How much information about a candidate is too much?

How many people should interview a candidate? How many interviews should there be? What kind of interviews should they be? How long should an interview last?

When should you use tests and assessments to help hire? When should you not use tests and assessments to help hire?

What kinds of tasks should people in staffing do (core activities)? What kinds of tasks should people in staffing not do (non-core activities)?

How much time/what percentage of of time should people in staffing spend doing non-core activities?

What recruiting tasks can be done best/only in direct physical contact? What recruiting tasks can be done best/only remotely?

Keith Halperin is currently working as a senior contract recruiter and performs additional sourcing work. He has worked in recruiting, placement, search, and research for highly diverse clients (from startups to Fortune 500 firms) throughout the San Francisco Bay Area since 1986. He conceived, designed, and implemented corporate recruiting strategies, and developed a white paper for a $70 million, five-year NASA CS recruiting project. He developed the Recruiting Process Methodology, a comprehensive open-source roadmap of recruiting. He co-founded MyIPOJob job fairs for pre-IPO companies, and founded Recruitersforum, an online job site for all types of recruiting positions.


12 Comments on “Can You Help Me Answer These Recruiting Questions?

  1. It may be a good idea for ERE to put this into a more formal survey sent out to all readers and manage the responses through some survey data capture software. Maybe people can add questions they’d also like answered rather than it being a huge comment string of different answers. Just a thought.

  2. Back in his prime, someone ask Michael Jordan how was he able to score 30 points a game. He responded that he doesn’t try to force anything-he let the game come to him. And when he is in the zone, the game slows down. He sees plays develop before they happen and that allows him to execute better.

    Recruiting, Keith is a people game and people are complicated. The desire to have big data, metrics, numbers, dollars, tools, bells & whistles and all the right answers instantaneously is what MJ would refer to as “forcing -it”

  3. @ Fraser: An excellent idea. Todd and John:
    Let’s do it!

    @Ken: To get “in the zone” in anything, it seems you need about 10,000 hours or more of thoughtful, focused practice, and to do that, you need to know where you are/your level of ability and skill, what are the right things to do, and what are the wrong ones…In recruiting, we don’t have these things, particularly “Generally Accepted Recruiting Practices” (GARPs). Since we don’t have these GARPs, any articulate and polished recruiting snake oil sales rep can make something up off a recruiting “trending” list, sell it to some Staffing VP that s/he’s friends with, and we (who actually do the recruiting and rarely if ever get asked what WE’d do to fix things) get stuck with it….In summary Ken: you can’t get “in the zone” unless you know what the frak is going on, and (collectively) “Recruiting” doesn’t….



  4. @ Ken,

    All games have rules and standards which you have to know and compare yourself to respectively in order to know where you stand and direct your practice. The constant shying away from hard numbers in HR and Recruiting is a cop out in my opinion. Performance can be measured, plain and simple.

    Metrics may not tell you everything you need to know about a subject, but without them you don’t have a way to validate anything you think you do know about a subject. People who are convinced that practice A is great and produces results but who never get held or compared to a standard to prove it are one of the main reasons processes don’t improve and eventually fail.

    And as Keith pointed out metrics are the bane of snake oil salesmen everywhere. It’s easy as hell to learn to talk a good game, it’s much harder to produce good results. To those of us in the recruiting field who are not ‘thought leaders’ marketing ideas whether they work or not, but who have clients to maintain or companies we work with directly whose needs we need to satisfy day in and out, our spiel isn’t as important as our results.

  5. Really interesting questions! Your question about good, cheap alternatives to resumes is a particularly interesting one. Instead of the traditional paper resume, more job seekers and employers are embracing the video resume. Employers get more personal with a candidate faster, allowing them to see communication skills and passion. While job seekers become more memorable to recruiters and get more of their time than a six second resume scan.

  6. @ Richard: I agree. I wonder how many articles, talks, webinars, and conference sessions would have to be labeled as “opinion” as opposed to “fact” if they were required to submit to a rigorous fact-based analysis- “the plural of ‘opinion’ is not ‘fact'”…

    “…our spiel isn’t as important as our results” is the case if we don’t work for large, centralized corporate Staffing “bloatocracies”. I recently talked with a company who said that the typical recruiter (AFTER they had mastered the intricacies of the ATS)would be spending ~30% of their time entering data for compliance and reports…

    @ Josh: Thank you. I look forward to hearing more about whatever techniques/technologies which will minimize my “eyeball time” to get the very best people I can.



  7. Metrics are good; the miss-use of metrics is bad, especially in recruiting talent.
    Here’s an example: A hiring manager is desperate. He is short staffed managing a very frustrated and over worked team; clients are threatening to leave which will cost his company big bucks in revenue. He needs skilled workers who can step in and hit the ground running from day one.

    With the assistance of an agency he was able to hire four quality individuals. To him, the placement fees were the solution for preventing more of his team & clients from leaving –which would be a significant loss in revenue and additional expenses to his firm.

    The numbers the HR heads focused on was an invoice totaling $80K for 4 hires.

  8. @ Ken: I don’t think metrics are good, I think metrics are *neither good nor bad, but (like other tools) can used for good, bad, or neutral purposes.

    In this case: I think this was an excellent and totally appropriate use of contingency recruiters- to provide highly-needed staff in a timely and efficient matter….What was implicit about this case is how did things get so out of whack that the agency had to come in and save the hiring manager’s a**? Sometimes things just come together in a perfect s***storm, but more often it’s due to the lack of effective planning.

    As far as “missing the forest for the trees” with HR regarding this as a wasteful expenditure, I was talking about this yesterday with a potential business partner. He described how a number of his repeat contingency clients were unable or unwilling to grasp the cost -advantages of using a PT contract recruiter instead of multiple contingency hires. They felt it worthwhile to possibly spend many times the amount on contingency hires as on a PT contract recruiter- they’d rather risk paying a lot than be certain on paying a little. I had run into something like this before, when the argument wasn’t that they wouldn’t hire vs. that they would, but rather that contingency fees were distributed/diluted across many cost-centers but the contract recruiter would hit in one place….



    * I do think that the use of metrics can be bad if:
    1) They’re an end in themselves (and you gather a lot of metrics because you think you should or want to) and not a means to an end- quickly and affordably putting quality butts in chairs.
    2) You require your recruiting staff to spend more than about 5% of our time gathering and compiling them. Require all the metrics and data you want- just don’t have US responsible for gathering and compiling them- farm it out to some virtual data entry folks for a couple of dollars/hr.

  9. @ Ken,

    “The numbers the HR heads focused on was an invoice totaling $80K for 4 hires.’

    Couldn’t agree more with you here. Metrics are not a substitute for management, they are a tool to facilitate it. And HR IS notorious for not acknowledging the concept of opportunity or unseen costs. There’s a strong tendency to see labor as merely a cost and that’s wrong. Labor is an investment with a return, much like capital equipment.

    When companies buy a new widget maker they do so because they know it will increase their profitability by producing something of value for them. They also make sure they can accommodate it in their factory, and to follow the appropriate maintenance schedule if they want to maximize its productive life. Employers need to start looking at employees the same way, not as a cost but an investment with a productive output, and who need maintenance like machines, which generally equates to decent treatment and salaries. But, unlike machines, employees can serve productively, if properly maintained, for an indefinite amount of time. Which basically means the one capital investment that could pay off the most for employers is often the most neglected when it comes to acquisition and maintenance.

  10. @ Richard: ISTM that you’re operating under the belief that companies are filled with “rational actors” making calculations on the premise of profit-maximization. However, we’re all limited in our decision-making by inherent and often unconscious cognitive biaes, which keep us from operating completely rationally and objectively, even if/when we want to. In work, I refer to these biases as the GAFI Principles of Greed, Arrogance, Fear, and Ignorance/Incompetence which really determine what gets done…

    Happy Friday, ‘Crutaz!


  11. Keith as usual another interesting (and questioning) perspective on recruiting. Our recruiting process stats with a very concise set of information. We need to know just the facts. I don’t care what high school they went to or if they have pets! Our internal record keeping helps us sharpen our process and makes us more effective for our clients. The best question may be found in results, how much do we save our clients by delivery them the right candidate in the shortest amount of time

  12. @ Jay: You are mad Joe Friday! (Just the facts ma’am.)
    In other words, IMHO you are doing just the right amount of relevant data-gathering- enough to let you quickly and accurately determine if the person would/wouldn’t be a suitable candidate.

    Folks: much would be gained by following Jay’s company’s example….


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