Stop Kidding Yourself – The Numbers Matter

Sep 1, 2004

Stop kidding yourself. If you don’t know your numbers, you’re working blind and the likelihood of reaching your full potential, as a staffing professional, is very much in doubt.

For over thirty years, I have documented the fact that achievement oriented people know their numbers in most, if not all, aspects of their daily activity. These top producers realize their numbers provide both a quantitative and qualitative measurement of how efficient and effective they are as staffing professionals.

In stark contrast, most recruiters/consultants who do not keep track of their numbers tend to be average to below average producers who spend the majority of their working day engaged in avoidance behaviors. They focus on pleasing processes versus productive results. They don’t want to keep track of their numbers because they don’t want to be held accountable. These individuals, who unfortunately make up a sizeable portion of our industry, waste approximately 50% of their time, energy, and resources everyday (see TFL – 07/04 “Is Nothing Better Than Something?”).

So, if you seriously want to know how you are really doing, keep track of your numbers. Accurate numbers will clearly demonstrate the facts about your work. No more “kidding yourself.” The numbers don’t lie. From the numbers you will learn how to better utilize your time, and how to increase your overall effectiveness and production.

What numbers should you monitor?

Let’s start with the three most important, the Key Performance Ratios.

One: Qualified Orders/Searches to Placements Ratio.

(Top producers range from 3 to 1 or tighter for contingency, 1 to 1 for exclusive/retainer)

Two: Candidate Presentations (not resume submittals) to First Time Interview Ratio.

(Top producers generally do not exceed 2 to 1)

Three: First Time Interview to Placements Ratio.

(Top producers generally are less than 6 to 1)

Obviously, the numbers for top producers reflect directly on the qualitative nature of their work. They do not waste time on long shots or low odds situations. They know how to work smart and stay focused. Therefore, their ratios tend to be considerably better than those of an average producer.

Using the above numbers as an example, a producer who has an average fee of $14,000 and consistently closes two placements per month (should be a minimum requirement for anyone with more than two years in the business) would bill $336,000 per year with the following numbers (being conservative and using the highest numbers):

72 Qualified Orders/Searches (1.38 per week)

288 Candidate Presentations (5.5 per week)

144 Candidate First Time Interviews (2.8 per week)

Although $336,000 in annual production does not reflect a top producer (see the April 2004 issue of this publication for what constitutes average), the ratios in this example speak for themselves.

The three Key Performance Ratios serve as the foundation for all the other numbers that should also be monitored. These include:

Total phone time per day (minus personal calls). Best monitored through call accounting software. Average producers spend approximately two hours per day on the phone while top producers many times average twice that amount.

Attempts versus Marketing Calls Completed (had a two way conversation with the party you were trying to reach).

Marketing Calls Completed versus Qualified Orders/Searches Taken.

Attempts versus Recruiting Calls Completed (had a two way conversation with the party you were trying to reach).

Recruiting Calls Completed versus Qualified Candidates Recruited (qualified and interested in one or more of your active orders/searches).

Your Average Fee (total billings divided by total placements).

These numbers and ratios will vary from producer to producer, depending on their skill level, work ethic, commitment to the business, and, in some instances, even their specialty. But don’t kid yourself into thinking your situation is so unique that tracking your numbers is not important.

By actively monitoring the numbers, you will quickly learn exactly how much time must be allocated to each activity on a daily basis in order to achieve your desired performance ratios. Developing a valid daily, weekly, and monthly plan depends on knowing your numbers and, in like fashion, it is virtually impossible to set realistic goals without them.

Another very important by-product of knowing your numbers is they serve as a primary indicator of how well you are progressing in your personal skills development as a staffing professional.


Your numbers reflect more than just the quantity of your activity and effort. They reflect the quality of your work, particularly through the Key Performance Ratios.

If you are truly interested in continued growth as a professional, you must know your numbers. Although they may not be a total reflection of who you are and what you may yet accomplish, they nevertheless remain the most reliable tool for timely and unbiased performance feedback. They reflect both your strengths and weaknesses, what skills need continued development and which skills are yet to be learned. Knowing your numbers will allow you to draw a personal blueprint for success in this business and that’s a big part of working smart.


Your numbers are real whether you monitor them or not.

So, why not monitor them and see what you learn. Make the numbers work for you. Allow them to serve as your personal guide to higher production and greater professional growth and satisfaction?

“Stop kidding yourself!” Your career may depend on it.

As always, if you have questions or comments about this article, just let me know. Your contacts are always welcome.

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