Develop a Recruiter Scorecard … Because Champions Demand That You Keep Score (Part 1 of a 2-part series)

Sample recruiter scorecards 

Champions insist that you keep score. If you understand that concept, you shouldn’t be surprised that one of the best ways to separate champion recruiters from weak ones is to bring up the topic of assessing individual recruiter performance. The worst corporate recruiters and way too many third-party recruiters that I have come across almost instantly react negatively to the topic of individual accountability. Their protests usually include some variation of three different excuses which are, “professionals don’t need to be measured,” “recruiting is too subjective or soft to measure,” or “it’s not my fault, others are to blame.”

In direct contrast, the very best in sports, sales, academia, high tech, entertainment, and yes, corporate recruiting, not only love to have their performance measured but they also like it to be compared and ranked against their peers. If you are a corporate recruiting leader and you want to know which recruiters to reward or to keep (I recommend that you release those who complain the loudest about individual accountability), you need to move beyond broad recruiting department metrics and dashboards and to also develop a “recruiter scorecard” for assessing the performance of every individual recruiter.

“You can’t know whether you are improving if you don’t measure results, and whatever you measure is likely to improve, because it will get increased attention and focus.”

Everything that really matters in corporations is constantly measured and reported, including profit, customer service, and sales. Everyone knows that corporations are measurement crazy, so I have found that by not measuring something (in this case recruiters), you are inadvertently sending a message to executives and employees that whatever you are doing is not strategic or even important (because if it was, we would measure it). So unless you want to purposely send a message that “having top performing recruiters doesn’t matter,” you have no choice but to develop an individual recruiter scorecard.

In a previous article, I provided a hiring and development checklist on how you could distinguish the competencies between an exceptional recruiter and an average one (a RINO). In this article, I will focus on how you can develop a scorecard for measuring the performance of individual recruiters who currently work for your corporation. In the first part of this series, I will provide some visual examples of what an individual recruiter’s scorecard might look like. In part two, I will highlight the foundation principles that you should use to design your scorecard and a list of the 25 possible measures that you should consider including in it.


If you’re wondering what scorecards for an individual corporate recruiter might look like, here are three samples.

Sample #1 — A focus on the percentage of improvement in performance

This sample scorecard compares this recruiter’s performance to the results produced by the average recruiter. It also shows the percentage of improvement of this recruiter from their last scorecard results.

recruiter scorecard 1


Article Continues Below

Sample #2 — A year-long assessment of a recruiter’s progress

This sample scorecard lists this recruiter’s performance in each quarter and then summarizes the performance at year-end.

recruiter scorecard 2


Sample #3 — A performance comparison to the best and the best ever

This sample scorecard compares this recruiter’s performance in this quarter to the top performance by any recruiter during this period and the best performance of any recruiter at any time

recruiter scorecard 3

Next week (6/17/13) in Develop a Recruiter Scorecard – Part 2, I focus on the foundation principles that you should use to design your scorecard and a list of the possible measures that you should consider including in it.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.



21 Comments on “Develop a Recruiter Scorecard … Because Champions Demand That You Keep Score (Part 1 of a 2-part series)

  1. Very nice article. A bit short, but the examples show good things to come. This will be very useful, I believe.

    One stumbling block is the metrics, I’ve never found a good source for benchmarks so I’ve always just benchmarked myself and looked for improvements. Is there a source for industry benchmarks you’d recommend? I’d like to measure myself against the industry as a whole if possible to help prioritization. If that’ll be in the next article, I understand holding back until then.

  2. Thanks, Dr. Sullivan. Perhaps champions insist that SOMEBODY keep score, but they don’t insist that those doing the work do the scorekeeping. IMHO, taking up to 5% of a recruiter’s time to provide documentation is fine- any more should be no-sourced, (eliminated), through-sourced (automated), or out-sourced (sent away). Data collection, documentation, and routine analysis is NOT something you should pay someone $50+/hr to do. As I’ve mentioned, a couple of firms I’ve spoken to recently have their recruiters spending 60-70% of their time doing data entry, documentation, and report generation. IMHO, champions (as if most of the companies we work for could be called that by anyone except their marketing people) demand success, and a recruiter’s success is putting quality butts in chairs on time and within budget, and whatever takes us away from that hurts our ability to do our jobs. BTW Dr. Sullivan, what kind of metrics do you provide for the work you do for your clients, and how much time do you spend doing producing them?

    @ Ed: Well-said.



  3. Richard A.

    Here is the information on finding benchmark comparison numbers that you requested


    If you are seeking benchmark comparison numbers
    If you were an aspiring Olympic runner, it would make sense that you would want to compare your time to the times of other Olympic runners. But in the world of business metrics, getting direct comparison numbers is extremely difficult for the following important nuances / reasons:

    Reasons why benchmark comparison numbers are problematic
    • Secrecy – companies simply don’t want competitors to know their performance, especially in an important area like people management.
    • Formulas – every company uses a different formula and/or data sets to calculate its metrics, so any direct comparison will have its flaws because the formulas used do vary significantly. For example, the largest variation is whether they include a manager’s time in their people management cost calculations.
    • Size, regional and industry variations – unfortunately, accurately comparing firms of different sizes, from different industries and in different regions/countries is almost impossible. The best comparison metrics allow the comparisons to be made based on size, industry and region.
    • Only competitors – many executives simply don’t care about the average, especially when you are among the leaders in a large industry. In these cases, executives unfortunately only care about the metrics of their 3 to 5 direct product competitors. Unfortunately, the surveys of most industry groups do not allow you to compare yourself to any specific firm. Incidentally, focusing only on product competitors can be a mistake, because some of your talent competitors in your region may not your product competitors.
    • Metrics sets – there is a wide variation in what metrics are collected by different firms. That means that one firm will have metrics that a comparison firm doesn’t collect. As a result, it is almost impossible to do a side-by-side comparison of the overall results produced by the same function in different firms.
    • Time periods – companies have different fiscal years, so the comparison time periods for metrics may not be the same. That is a problem if environmental factors like the unemployment rate are changing rapidly during the measurement period.
    • Data collection can be sloppy – some organizations simply are not focused on accurate data collection and as a result, the recording of some data may be sloppy. In the area of recruiting for example, some ATS systems capture the source automatically, while at other firms the recruiter enters it themselves. At some firms, recruiters don’t care about source act receive so they sometimes check the same box every time. It’s also true that some metrics can be” gamed” (e.g. offer acceptance rates) to make an individual look artificially good.

    The best comparisons are internal
    Because of the seven reasons cited above, I recommend that you focus on comparing yourself to yourself using one or more of the following internal comparisons.
    1. % of improvement – the best metric comparison is the percentage of improvement from the last quarter or year.
    2. Compare to other bus. units – you can also compare relative performance on a metric in a particular unit to the best, the worst or the average metric in all other business units throughout the firm during this time period.
    3. To the best ever – you can also compare a top metric for a time period to the best performance at any time within your firm (and the bottom performance to the worst ever).

    The best external comparisons come through a metric consortium
    The best external people management comparisons that I recommend are direct comparisons between “your firm” and your 3 to 5 top talent competitors. Literally the only effective way I have found to do that is to form a metrics consortium with a third neutral party. In most cases, the consortium is led by a professor at a university. The consortium leader gathers the metric results from each of the members but then they hide or disguise the results from individual firms when the metrics are reported. That means that each member gets the highest, lowest and average result from the member firms to use as a benchmark comparison but individual firm results are never reported. The results are even more powerful if each of the consortium members reports the exact same set of metrics, using the same formula. I recommend that you restrict the consortium to people management metrics because a broader sharing can increase the politics to an unworkable level.

    There are some quality benchmark metrics in recruiting
    If you must use external recruiting metrics, I only recommend 3 general sources.
    • – this group narrowly focuses on recruiting and candidate benchmark data but they charge a fee for their reports. Information on their reports can be found on the website or at:
    • The Recruiting Roundtable — your firm must be a member of the Corporate Executive Board in order to participate. This members only sub-group includes some of the largest corporations. It specializes in sharing both metrics and recruiting best practices. It offers both a yearly Recruiting Benchmark Survey and an online metric benchmarking calculator (rIQ).
    • PWC- Saratoga – this arm of the PWC consulting firm have been doing benchmark metrics covering all aspects of HR for decades. Some of their services require a fee and in some cases reports are available by industry, company size or region.
    • Narrowly focused metric providers – you can get some limited but high quality recruiting metrics data from CareerXroads, SHRM/BNA, NACE, Best Practices, LLC, The Hackett Group and the Corporate Leadership Council.

  4. Thanks again, Dr. Sullivan. If I understand correctly, it’s important to gather numbers, but not all that easy/affordable to get an objective and generally translatable idea of what those numbers mean vis-à-vis other companies (perhaps that’s why so few of these reports trickle down to the likes of Yours Truly and my fellow recruiters). Consequently, since transparent, comparative objectivity is problematic, it makes sense to subjectively gather, analyze, and interpret such information as furthers whatever interest you’re trying to promote (a larger budget, efficiency in cost-savings, etc.) as there likely won’t be a neutral internal arbiter evaluating it for bias. Of course, you could get a pretty good idea of what needs to be done by asking those of us who actually do the work, but where’s the gain in that?



  5. From my vantage point this is a waste of time. Everybody in this business works a little differently. I know of no two recruiters whether In House, Third Party, or any Hybrid form that work the same way. At least in a fashion that you could produce any realistic and meaningful data. This seems to be an effort to take us away from the data that is important.

    How many open assignments do we have?

    How many are we filling?

    How much of my business is repeat or returning Clients?

    How much of my business is new Clients?

    What is my recruiter turnover?

    Are we making money?

    Are these numbers improving?

    This simple monthly calculation is our score card and I can do it myself without distracting our recruiters or wasting their time when it is better spent on doing the things that make these numbers work. The answers to these 7 questions tell me where I need to spend my time. Our recruiters time is at a premium and should not be wasted on the collection of redundant data. Perhaps I am very naive but we seem to be preoccupied with the collection of data instead of doing our job—placing the right talent in the right job.

    Gary Steeds

  6. @ Gary: The rich, famous, elite EoCs aren’t interested in simple, straight-forward, practical solutions based on actual conditions and worked out by the people actually doing the work- you can’t make large sums of money off them that way. No, practicalities are only for the likes of of “ordinary” recruiters and their firms who can’t afford the complicated, theoretical, expert-generated solutions.



  7. Thanks for the info, Doc. It’s helpful, and nice to know you think I was taking more or less the right approach in just benchmarking myself and trying to improve. The links will help though because it’s also helpful to know where you stand, even in general terms, when compared to your peers.

  8. @Keith, Thanks for your comments. Sometimes I fear that many of the spokespeople, present company excluded, who have taken over the role of speaking for our industry have lost track of what we are we are doing by throwing at us what I call “Big Data HR Techno-Babble” The recruiters that I know are hard working, dedicated professionals doing a fantastic job of placing great talent in great jobs and have little time for some of these abstract concepts. Not all——– but score cards? All due respect to Dr. Sullivan.

    Gary Steeds

  9. You’re very welcome, Gary. I’m not sure you meant me (as “present company”), but I can’t really speak for “the industry”. I can speak for what I’ve done and seen over the years. That’s why I’ve come to distrust claims from recruiting “experts” who make claims (apparently) based largely on their continuing conversations with the high-level people who create and maintain the (often-dysfunctional) recruiting situations in which my colleagues and I often work. It could just be I’ve had more than my share of companies that seem to be doing things very badly from my, my colleagues’, and candidates’ perspectives, but that could be just luck. I do know that I trust people with lots of practical experience to give good perspectives on their own situations’ (even if it is limited and biased) perspective. An analogy- If I needed an operation, I’d rather be operated on by a surgeon who’d performed hundreds of operations under varying circumstances than by a surgical consultant who’d spoken to a lot of surgical conventions (usually to chiefs of surgery or their superiors), but hadn’t operated in years and tended to dismiss the perspectives of ordinary operating surgeons as being “too-limited in perspective, and lacking a strategic focus” or something like that?



  10. @ Gary,

    I don’t think the article is saying you necessarily need to use these score card or track all these metrics, but in the end metrics do matter. You yourself are using a scorecard, and in it you track the metrics you find most relevant and try to improve them. That’s a validation of the advice here in your own experience. The relevant metrics will necessarily have different priority status across different companies, to the point that some may be excluded entirely by one company but be the top priority for improvement in another.

    In the end though, you do need to measure your performance against some standard before you can reliably improve it over time. The practicality issue comes into play when it comes to gathering the data, and I find people tend to over think those things.

    For example, to measure quality of hire one of my initial ideas was to get a 360 type review and translate that to a 0 – 100% grade for the employee, when in the end it was simpler to use a pass/fail binary approach. At 90 days are they still here and is the hiring manager satisfied? If the answer is yes, Quality equals 1. If not, it equals 0. Sure, there’s lots of issues that can subsumed in that score that it won’t communicate, but it will still give you a metric you can use, and in the end that’s a fairly simple spreadsheet to make and track over time.

    A scorecard made up of Time to Fill, however defined, and Quality of hire would be a simple starting point for anyone. It would be easy to track and maintain in Excel alone and wouldn’t require any advanced knowledge even, and very little data entry time. The point being, there’s no need to bury yourself in the weeds of data collection and entry to achieve the goal Dr. Sullivan is recommending. Data does matter. You just have to know, as you apparently do, what data matters to your business, and how much time and energy you should devote to tracking those metrics.

  11. @ Richard: well-said. Data DOES matter, as do various processes. However, we need to always keep in mind that these are *means to an end (that of quickly putting quality butts in chairs within budget) and not ends in themselves.



    *Manifesto for Agile Recruiting

    We are uncovering better ways of hiring people by doing it and helping others do it.

    Through this work we have come to value:
    •Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
    •Quick, quality hires over comprehensive documentation
    •Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
    •Responding to change over following a plan

    Principles behind the Agile Recruiting Manifesto

    We follow these principles:
    •Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of quality hires.
    •Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
    •Deliver quality hires frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
    •Internal customers and recruiters must work together daily throughout the project.
    •Build projects around motivated individuals.
    •Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
    •The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a recruiting team is face-to-face conversation.
    •A quality hire which is on time and within budget is the primary measure of progress.
    •Agile processes promote sustainable employee development.
    •The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
    •Continuous attention to professional excellence and first-class service enhances agility.
    •Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
    •The best requirements, processes, and hires emerge from self-organizing teams.
    •At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

  12. Thanks, Guys for all your comments. Great input. All of it valuable. I guess that my concern remains that there are two types of people in this sector of our industry (these discussion forums). There are those that probably have never made a placement in their life and have no idea what goes into the process. And then there are those of us that work this business every day and live with the incredible changes that are occurring in our industry day in and day out, while serving a vital role in our economy. Yes, I use the “Data” that our recruiters generate in order to do a better job for our clients. I just want get this “Data” from our front line recruiters —-the ones that are doing the job. It is my job to collect this Data—-not my recruiters. Their time is far too valuable to be wasted in this data collection function.

    Gary Steeds

  13. @ Gary: Hear, hear! Since you and I are concerned with fact-based practical solutions to typical real-world recruiting problems, it’s clear we’re not the intended audience of elite, strategic, high-level recruiting leaders whose vision is far beyond those of “things that actually work for those who do (and are affected by) them”. No, received recruiting wisdom is not for the likes of us, just for our recruiting “betters” and perhaps for those who aspire to be called and become part of the “elect”.



  14. @Gary

    “It is my job to collect this Data—-not my recruiters. Their time is far too valuable to be wasted in this data collection function.”

    That’s the fundamental judgement mistake most companies make: not realizing the opportunity costs of pointless or wasteful work. That’s why people with the title of Recruiter end up doing ‘busy work’ and admin duties, and every minute a recruiter spends gathering data is a minute not spent doing their primary function: recruiting. Sadly, many managers and business owners/principles think their employees’ time and resources are inexhaustible, and act surprised when they start hitting limits and dropping the ball here and there.

    Interestingly enough, they wouldn’t treat a machine with such disrespect. If they got a widget bending machine that bends 100 widgets a minute, has fairly well defined operational parameters and maintenance schedule, they wouldn’t be surprised when, after running 200 widgets a minute for two to three times the recommended period between maintenance stops, if it broke down. It would be expected in fact. However, people are supposed to be limitless fonts of effort and expertise and never have limits of any kind. It’s an attitude that has puzzled me ever since I’ve been in the workforce in my early teens, and noticed the tendency of managers to run people ragged and just not notice how destructive and unproductive their methods were.

  15. @ Richard: I think most of us have been/are in similar circumstances, and short of quitting there often isn’t much that can be done. I think there are three main reasons poor treatment at work can occur:
    1) There’s too much to do- tempers get frayed, people get worn out.
    2) Some folks are clueless- they don’t intend to treat people badly, it just never occurred to them that they were doing so.
    3) Others are arrogant, entitled, pompous jerks with a sense of superiority- they feel they have a right to treat people badly (or at least not as well as they’d like to be treated themselves) because they think they’re better/know more/have more than others. It’s great we don’t have such unpleasant people like this on ERE.



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