What Does Quality Mean?

Jan 29, 2009

Having been on the client side as a corporate human resources professional, I have designed RFP processes and worked closely with hundreds of hiring managers as well as staffing service providers. Whether it was deciding on which recruitment and staffing provider to place on our vendor list or awarding contracts, direct hires or temps, our number-one consideration was the quality of candidates.

What does quality candidates mean from your clients’ perspective? Many things contribute to the candidate quality and they include:

  • Qualified, screened, tested to meet job requirements
  • Present accurate, current resumes
  • Available to start either ASAP or within 2 weeks
  • Are professional in appearance
  • Local or willing to relocate
  • Have positive references
  • Communicate well with good interpersonal skills.
  • Able to demonstrate qualifications and provide sample documentation
  • Prepared to perform well in an interview as well as in their role

At a high level, I see candidate quality supported by two parts within a recruitment process.

The first part includes activities that ensure that you have sourced, screened, and qualified a good candidate. These activities include employment testing, personality profiling, interviewing, and so forth. A solid recruitment process that is valid and reliable will help you consistently deliver on this part.

With a quality candidate at hand, this takes us to the second important part…to ensure that your candidates present well to your client!

Sending a good candidate with a poor resume, or someone who looks good on paper but can’t interview, doesn’t serve you well in the long run.

Ultimately, the resumes and candidates you submit represent the quality of your work upon which you are judged. So spending some time with candidates to clean up their resumes and sharpen their interview skills can really pay off.

Quality over Pricing

How important are fees to your client? Employers are not as price-sensitive as once thought. Perhaps even proving that there is a market for a premium quality service at higher pricing. If so, then this is ironic since many staffing and recruitment providers continue to feel pressure to lower fees.

By the way, if you have a client who complains about your fees, objectively look at the quality of candidates you are providing. Are you really providing quality candidates or are you just “throwing a name in the hat”? If, in fact, you are providing a stellar staffing service, maybe the problem is that you are not communicating this to your clients.

In the fast-paced, reactive world of recruiting, staffing professionals are so focused on taking care of the immediate that they forget to make time to do the things vital to long-term success.

Regular communication to your clients on your “service quality” will pay off.

Demonstrate Your Value

Providing regular metrics such as send-out to hire ratio, quality of hire, time to fill, and so forth can go a long way to reinforce your role as a strategic staffing partner and demonstrate your value. While the focus of this article is not staffing metrics, I have chosen a couple of metrics to quickly illustrate how you can use metrics to help you demonstrate your service quality and value to your clients.

With many simple online surveying tools, using surveys to measure the quality of hires is one of the simplest ways to demonstrate staffing quality. To do this, simply send a survey to the hiring manager to ask about the new hire’s performance. There are a number of questions you can design to assess your candidate’s work processes as well as results (how well they work with others, in addition to results achieved).

Whatever questions you design, it is useful to include one high-level question like “If given a chance, would you hire this individual again?”

Another one of my favorite metrics is the send-out to hire ratio. As the name suggests, this metric indicates the number of candidates you send out against the number hired. The idea is that the send out to hire ratio gives some indication as to the effectiveness of your recruitment process.

The ideal goal is to work toward a one-to-one ratio — that is, one candidate is hired for every one candidate sent (wouldn’t that be nice?).

Align Measurement with Clients

Whatever metric you decide to implement, engage your clients to align your measurement and processes for benchmarking purposes. By engaging your clients, you can better align your measurement definitions and processes to facilitate an “apples to apples” comparison.

The goal is to show your client that the candidates you send them consistently demonstrate a high quality, and if you are really good, a higher quality than what they can find using internal processes. Lastly, by engaging your clients in designing your measurements, you will be demonstrating your commitment to quality.

I can say from experience that metrics such as ones above have a powerful impact on your clients’ perception. Often, the decision-makers at the executive level are distant from the recruitment process.

Disciplined recruitment fundamentals of thorough screening, assessment, and candidate preparation are the keys to delivering a quality service. Do not assume that your clients know all about the good work you do. In addition to delivering great candidates, it is vital to communicate your service quality to your clients.

By finding good candidates, ensuring that they interview well, and then regularly communicating this to your clients, you will establish a reputation of being a premium service that delivers quality candidates.