The Best Metric of Them All

I’m about to reveal absolutely the best metric of them all. If you can manage only this one metric, I’ll personally guarantee you the shortest time to hire, the lowest cost, and the highest quality candidates. Once I give you the answer, you must promise me that you’ll use this metric to manage the process ó not to report the results. If you use this metric to manage the process, you’ll probably get promoted, or at least get a raise. You’ll certainly get more respect, and have more influence with your hiring manager clients, and with your candidates, too. But if you use this metric just to report results, all you’ll be able to do is make nice fancy presentations to your boss, and everyone will think you’re busy. If this is your thing, I guess it’s still a good metric to track. If you haven’t yet sneaked a peak, here is the best metric of them all when used properly to manage the recruiting process: Sendouts per hire by position by recruiter. Here are two reasons why sendouts per hire is so important:

  1. Without it, you can’t achieve my gold standard of recruiting excellence, which is no more than three sendouts per hire ó all three of the candidates must be hirable, and the three candidates must be delivered within 10 days.
  2. If you’re above this three sendouts per hire figure, it means one of three things: the hiring manager or the recruiter doesn’t know what he or she is looking for, somebody on the interviewing team doesn’t know how to assess candidate competency, or your sourcing channels aren’t good enough.

By tracking sendouts per hire, you are measuring the effectiveness of the total hiring process. That’s why this is the most important metric of them all. In other words, by setting up your process improvement programs to achieve a maximum of three sendouts per hire, you directly ensure that:

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  • The recruiter, hiring manager and everyone on the interviewing team know the job
  • The recruiter, hiring manager and everyone on the interviewing team are able to accurately assess candidate competency
  • Your sourcing channels consistently produce enough top candidates quickly

By monitoring sendouts per hire, you’ll know if your hiring process is in control. If you’re over three, the hiring process is out of whack somewhere and something must be changed. This is where I raise my voice (again) on using metrics to manage the process, rather than report the results. If you wait 30 to 60 days to capture this information it’s too late to do anything about it. If you track the results daily, you’ll be able to see what’s happening in real time and have a chance to take immediate corrective action. This is what process control and Six Sigma is all about. Now let’s go about getting your hiring process in control. (My first job after college was a control systems and manufacturing process engineer. That’s why I talk like this.) One big pushback you might get on this is that hiring managers want to see more candidates. This is bunk. The only reason hiring managers want to see more candidates is that they believe they’re not now seeing enough good candidates ó so they feel the need to usurp the authority of the recruiter. There are two possible reasons why they feel this way. One, they’re really not seeing enough good, hirable candidates. Two, they are seeing enough good candidates, but they don’t know how to assess candidate competency. As part of this, they probably don’t trust the recruiter’s judgment, or they don’t have enough confidence in their own assessment skills to override the decision of some naysayer on the hiring team who is more influential. This is when hiring managers typically invoke the “I’ll know the right candidate when I see him or her” catchphrase. Whatever the case, recruiters must take a proactive role to address either situation. As recruiters, we truly know if our sourcing channels are yielding enough good candidates. So we sometimes send average candidates in and hope for the best, or at least to buy some time. However, if the reality is that our current sourcing techniques aren’t producing enough top candidates, it’s time to dramatically improve or change these techniques until they do consistently produce enough good candidates. This is what metrics and process control is all about, and why sendouts per hire is such an important metric. It tells us if we’re seeing enough good candidates (read my article, Describe Opportunities, Not Requirements if you want to find more good candidates tomorrow). If as recruiters we know that the candidates we are presenting are good enough, then the sendouts-per-hire metric indicates we need to work on the other two problems: lack of job knowledge or weak assessment skills. I absolutely promise I won’t give any interviewing tips in this article. Instead, I’ll suggest you read two of my favorite articles on interviewing ó The Best Interview Question of All Time and My Favorite Interview Question ó for help here. If hiring managers do have good assessment skills and you are presenting enough good candidates, there can only be one remaining problem: neither the recruiter or hiring managers knows what they’re looking for. This is a pretty common problem. A recent article I’ve written, Using Performance Profiles to Improve Recruiter Effectiveness, will help you here. It’s been my observation that recruiters, hiring managers, and the interviewing team generally have a different understanding of real job needs. Traditional job descriptions provide little help, and in many cases are counter-productive. They tend to list skills, experience and education requirements, duties and responsibilities. The focus is more on the person, rather than the job. In the referenced article, I make the contention that job descriptions need to list performance objectives, or those things the person in the job must do to be considered successful. If you get agreement on these, you’ve eliminated the third bottleneck to achieving the three sendouts/hire objective. This is where recruiters earn their keep ó getting the hiring team to agree on the real job. This changes the role of the recruiter from a subordinate position as vendor to the lead position of consultant. This is absolutely necessary to consistently achieve the three sendouts per hire goal. I started this article by advocating a position that sendouts per hire was the only metric you really need to manage a recruiting department. Sendouts per hire is not an end in and of itself; it’s a measure of process efficiency. When it’s high, it means something is wrong. When it’s three or less, it means your hiring process is healthy. It’s like blood pressure, temperature and pulse rate all rolled into one. So track your sendouts per hire by recruiter. Start making changes now if it’s too high. In a year from now it will be an accomplishment worthy of bragging about.

Lou Adler is the CEO and founder of The Adler Group – a training and search firm helping companies implement Performance-based Hiring℠. Adler is the author of the Amazon top-10 best-seller, Hire With Your Head (John Wiley & Sons, 3rd Edition, 2007). His most recent book has just been published, The Essential Guide for Hiring & Getting Hired (Workbench, 2013). He is also the author of the award-winning Nightingale-Conant audio program, Talent Rules! Using Performance-based Hiring to Build Great Teams (2007).


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