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If talent acquisition professionals want to become strategic business partners with hiring managers, they must move beyond using common transactional metrics, such as time-to-fill and cost-per-hire, to measure recruiting efficiency. Instead, they should align their recruiting benchmarks with the company’s business mission, experts say.
But in order to tailor metrics to the organization’s business strategy, HR must first understand the business strategy, said Trish Healy, vice president, RPO Operations, North America, at Futurestep, a Korn Ferry company specializing in recruitment process outsourcing.
Be Present at the Start
For recruiters who may not yet be viewed as a strategic business partner, it’s important to focus on starting the conversation, according to Jennifer Way, president of consulting firm Way Solutions, based in Nashville, Tenn. Participating at the development stage of business strategy allows recruiters to act in a truly consultative fashion, using their in-depth and firsthand knowledge of the labor market to educate hiring managers. For example, if an organization wants to start a new operation in a location where demand exceeds supply for needed skill sets, recruiters have the insight to help create a competitive and compelling total rewards package and employment brand.
Healy pointed out that a good recruiter “looks at talent acquisition and attraction strategies holistically. Ultimately, you might not be able to change the compensation strategy, but you can package and communicate benefits in such a way that compensation isn’t the emphasis. Recruiters must understand the employer value proposition so that you’re not reliant on only one indicator as a way of closing candidates and hitting your metrics.”
In another example, recruiters at a startup company may advise focusing on quality of hire over speed and cost because cultural fit is so important in startup environments. The talent acquisition team at a company building a shared-services infrastructure could highlight cost-per-hire as the most important recruiting measurement, aligned with the overall strategy to cut costs and benefit from economies of scale.
Close with Data
Once the conversation is flowing, Way said that recruiters should be prepared with hard data. “Data and numbers are the language of business and go a long way toward changing behavior, further than opinions or anecdotes,” she said.
Many companies may not realize the gold mine of data they have sitting in their own applicant tracking system (ATS). Way urged talent acquisition professionals to start there when trying to diagnose recruiting effectiveness. More specifically, data analytics should be focused on consistency in behavior.
Most recruiters would agree that the faster a position fills, the better, but Way said that recruiters should look at situations that don’t fit the pattern. If most customer service positions fill in 30 days or less, and suddenly, there is a quarter where many stay open for 45 days or more, it should be a red flag to investigate further. Perhaps the metric needs to be adjusted for the business strategy or perhaps the business strategy needs to be informed by market realities.
Candidate data can also come in handy here as well. For example, below-market pay will usually drive up the time needed to fill a position. But if recruiters really believe that the salary needs to be adjusted, they cannot expect hiring managers to be persuaded by anecdotal evidence. A company may pay for access to salary survey data but if it chooses not to, an ATS should be able to report the desired salary range of every candidate who has actively applied to the position.
Imagine that 80 percent of candidates want a higher salary than what’s being offered; that’s a very compelling data point and can be used to help educate hiring managers so they can make the best people decisions for the business. They might raise the salary or they may look at relocating the position to a geographic area where labor supply and demand are more in their favor.
Amy Gulati, SHRM-SCP, is a freelance writer based in the Washington, D.C., area.
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