Here’s What Happens When a Finance Guy Runs Recruiting Operations

I recently met Shane Noe, the head of recruiting operations for Box, at a dinner we hosted in San Francisco. In the midst of conversations about recruiting, he mentioned that he’s new to the recruiting space, having spent most of his career as a finance manager. Now that’s unique. I was curious about his bold move into the recruiting sector, and decided to dedicate a blog post to his story. That led to all kinds of revelations and recruiting operations advice from his finance-oriented mind.

Noe followed an unlikely path to become Box’s head of recruiting operations. He spent most of his career as a finance manager, tackling worldwide revenue forecasting for Apple and foreign-exchange hedging for Google. When he moved to Box’s strategic planning and analysis-oriented team, he never imagined it would lead to a role in recruiting.

As Box’s new corporate finance manager, he was tasked with forecasting their financial statements. In order to do that he needed to understand the company’s biggest expense item: headcount. And in order to accurately forecast headcount, he needed to cultivate a deep understanding of Box’s hiring processes. That’s when the stars began to align.

He noticed several areas in recruitment that were inefficient and begging for process improvements. They piqued his interest. When the head of recruiting operations role opened up, he threw his hat in the ring. Sometimes skills and interests match up with job profiles in ways you would never predict, and he quickly became the top candidate and accepted the job.

Recruiting Meets a Finance Brain

Financial professionals love metrics. Data. Analytics. They provide great truths and clarity. In a financial analyst’s world, every imaginable source of data can be collected, crunched, and dissected to glean insights and drive efficiency. Recruiting is a treasure trove of data, and in many cases it’s underused.

We asked Noe to share some tips on how to use recruiting metrics to tell the real story of what’s happening on recruiting teams. His tips make it easier to achieve more and set reasonable expectations with management teams.

Here’s the scoop.

Start With Clean Data

Spick and span. Totally hygienic. That’s how clean you want your data to be.

The reality is that your recruiting data probably isn’t clean. So your first step toward progress is to evaluate the current state of your data’s integrity, or how complete, accurate, and consistent it is.

There is often inconsistency across recruiting teams in how they use and maintain their applicant tracking system, which can make it hard to get clean data from a complex ATS. Here are a few pitfalls to watch for.

Inaccurate pass-through rates

A pass-through rate is the percentage of candidates who make it from one stage of an interview (e.g., recruiter screen) to the next (e.g., hiring manager screen). Pass-through rates are critical for identifying problems in the recruiting funnel. For example, a low pass-through rate from a recruiter screen to a hiring manager screen could indicate that the recruiter and hiring manager are misaligned on the requirements for the role.

To keep the pass-through rate data clean, make sure recruiters are rejecting candidates at the proper stage and that they are careful not to move candidates back and forth between stages unintentionally. This happens more often than you’d think and causes inaccuracies, or dirty data.

Botched time-in-stage numbers

The amount of time a candidate spends in each stage of the recruiting process is your time-in-stage metric. Box looks closely at the time a candidate spends in application review, as a way to gauge how quickly its recruiters are reviewing in-bound applications.

Inaccuracies are quite common in time-in-stage metrics. One major cause is having active candidates sitting in a interview stage for a closed job. They sit in the stage indefinitely and destroy time-in-stage metrics. Luckily it’s a quick fix to clean up active candidates in closed jobs.

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Skewed time-to-hire data

Your time-to-hire is the time it takes to move a candidate through the entire hiring process, from the moment a job requisition is opened to the moment it’s closed. It’s an important metric when you’re setting expectations with hiring managers, planning your recruiting capacity, and assessing how difficult it will be to fill a role. A couple of job-posting outliers can mess up the data.

“One-to-many” job postings are instances where you post a single job and hire multiple people against it. “Evergreen” job posts are essentially marketing tools. They’re posts that stay on the career site as a way to continuously bring in candidates for hard-to-hire roles. Both of these types of requisitions, while necessary, can cause you to overstate the time to hire and should be excluded from time-to-hire calculations.

If you watch for these pitfalls, you’ll help ensure that your data represents what’s really happening on the ground for your recruiting team.

Show Recruiters Their Data

When recruiters see their data, they begin to understand where and how the process is broken. Don’t tell them that the team’s time-in-stage numbers are bad. Show them specifics. Show them their own numbers.

“At Box, we created a report that included the time-in-application stage data for our recruiters. Some of them were really surprised their numbers were so poor, which made them very motivated to look into the issue. They quickly realized they had active candidates in closed requests, which had negatively affected their data. They’ve kept a closer eye on their work since then and the team has more accurate data for it.” – Shane Noe

Know Your Basic Metrics

On the finance team, Noe often had to speak off the cuff about business metrics to facilitate conversations in formal and informal meetings. He says that in recruiting, we should be able to do the same thing. Data should be top of mind. Knowing these key metrics will be particularly helpful:

  • Time to hire for your most scrutinized roles
  • Cost to hire by function (e.g., sales, tech, general)
  • Recruiter productivity by job role (How many roles can a recruiter fill per quarter?)
  • Recruiter bandwidth (How many roles can a recruiter search for simultaneously?)

When a leader wants to know how much it will cost to hire 10 more salespeople, how long it may take, or how many recruiters you need to get the job done, the recruiting management team can earn a lot of credibility if it has a sense of these numbers and can relay them confidently.

Get Ahead of Your Annual Planning Process

If you have clean data, you can (and should) use it to understand your team’s recruiting capacity. Having this understanding is most critical during your company’s annual planning process. Early in the process, before your corporate finance team comes up with headcount and spend targets, make sure you’ve informed them what you are capable of in the coming year with your current resources. That way, any resource gaps can be addressed up front, before targets are issued.

Good data can lead to game-changing insights, better business performance, and confidence in the recruiting management team. Bad data can lead to a loss in credibility and ultimately result in leadership making the wrong decisions. Clean processes lead to clean data, so begin at the core and understand how your recruiters operate. You’ll set yourself up for success if you do!

Cheryl Ng is marketing coordinator at, the first talent operations platform that provides intelligent interview scheduling for recruiting teams. She manages the Talent Innovators’ Community -- a network of recruiting operations leaders where she actively shares and facilitates conversations about the latest recruiting trends. It’s always a great time when she hosts dinners to connect leaders in recruiting. Join the community here


5 Comments on “Here’s What Happens When a Finance Guy Runs Recruiting Operations

  1. Cheryl thank you for the article, it is good to reinforce the benefits that clean actionable data can bring to recruiting to new or inexperienced TA pro’s. However, I’m a little concerned with the premise that it took a Finance person to make this happen, as it omits some very important context, and that is that everything he is doing in recruitng is new to him and new to Box, but is in fact very old hat in TA. There are numerous examples and case studies that show that non-finance TA leaders have used data to effectively improve and manage TA, because the use of quantifiable and actionable data isn’t the purview of a single discipline, but instead the foundation for all disciplines. I believe that breadth of exploration, and studying how all disciplines solve problems make us stronger, so again I believe this article will help the new and inexperienced realize that, I am just saddend that is was presented as revelatory, 1. as it diminishes the great work others have done in this area, and 2, it means we as a TA profession have failed to adequetly share best practices.

    1. Hi Jim,
      Hope you enjoyed reading the article! That’s a really great point that you’ve highlighted about sharing.
      As we’re all going big on diversity, and as you’ve mentioned, having all disciplines work together in improving TA processes would be optimal and would expose us to new ways of doing things. That was the idea we had behind this article. However, there’s just so much that can be shared in a blog article as blog articles require high degrees of readibility. Ebooks is where it can get a lot more technical. We recognize that and hence we’ve also been holding quarterly dinners in major cities to bring TA leaders together, that’s exactly how I met Shane! The small group invite-only dinners (20 people) allows for high-level discussions and sharing of best practices. We’d absolutely love to have you join us too, I’ll be connecting with you.

  2. Excellent topic. Organizations really need to recognize that the recruiting function can have a positive or adverse impact on their bottom line. Data in and of itself is merely just a bunch of numbers. Being able to make the connection to dollars spent/dollars saved is the story that should be told.

  3. Hello Cheryl Ng, it is a good discussion about to this topic, this is very interesting, theres a lot of knowledge you shared in this article. this is also lesson for the finance guy who wants to be part of recruitment of their company.

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