I’ve Been Recruiting for 25 Years but Still Haven’t Hired Anyone!

When reading the thoughts of my peers in the recruiting profession, I have to admit I become a little surprised at how many have really had a chance to hire people. While aside from a couple of assistants in recruiting groups I have managed, I actually have never hired anyone. Usually that has been the hiring manager’s job.

Recruiters play a vital role in the process that includes:

  • Attracting applicants: advertising, networking, job fairs.
  • Creating candidates: processing and screening applicants.
  • Monitoring or managing the interview process: directly or by way of HR.
  • Processing offers: directly or by way of HR.
  • Performing background and reference checks: directly or through third-party.
  • Third-party vendor management: agencies, job boards, software.
  • Help planning the holiday party: just kidding.

But none of the above starts until a hiring manager says, “I need to hire somebody.” Then sometime in the future and a couple of interviews later, the hiring manager comes back to the office and says, “This is the one I want to hire.”

Now, this may seem just a little nitpicking, but whenever the discussion turns to measuring performance or process metrics, the phrase always pops up, “Determine performance by time of hire and quality of hire.”

Neither is in direct control of the recruiter. Creating a methodology of performance measurement in this environment that includes time to hire and quality of hire is the equivalent of taking your driver’s test from the back seat of the car.

As my old pappy used to say, “If you ain’t holding the wheel, you ain’t driving the car.”

(Actually, Dad was from South Boston and would have burned holes in me with his stare if I ever called him “pappy”, but when spinning cornbread, pappy seems more appropriate than dad.)

Now, a good recruiter can enhance a process and make it more efficient through their overall industry knowledge and relationship-building with their hiring managers.

However, consider the following:

  • Can a recruiter overcome an inefficient hiring manager? (Hmmmm?maybe this one?no, no?maybe this one?hmmm?no, no?)
  • Can a recruiter overcome a bad company reputation? (FOX News Headline, “XYZ Corp. shipped another 2,000 jobs overseas?film at eleven.”)
  • Can a recruiter overcome a bad process neither designed nor controlled by them? (?only after the fourth interview, but before the seventh, unless of course this is an accelerated process requiring a signoff from both the resident and department monitor?)
  • Can a recruiter require quality and process adherence upward? (“Look here, boss, the policy manual you just threw in the wastebasket clearly states?”)
  • Can a recruiter force hiring managers to have a fair and balanced candidate evaluation process? (“I know this one looks good on paper?but my gut tells me?” Good Lord! It’s his gut again!)
  • Can a recruiter control third-party vendor relationships with hiring managers? (David, sending you a resume, look it over and call me. By the way, we haven’t played a round of golf in ages?call me.)

(That steering wheel just keeps moving further and further away, doesn’t it?)

Before a company can judge the performance of the recruiting staff, it must first judge their own performance in supporting the recruiting staff. In other words, it is not only a question of the recruiter being worthy of the company, but rather, is the company worthy of the recruiter?

Here are a few examples to consider:

  • A job requisition closed 45 days after it opens, with the hiring manager authorizing an offer to the candidate he first interviewed after 15 days. How long did it really take to fill this requisition?
  • A candidate is hired with no BA or the prerequisite number of years’ experience outlined in the original job requisition as “preferred” but not required. In theory, it’s not the highest level of quality job matching. But there were four candidates also under consideration with all job requisitions point met and covered. But the candidate hired came from the same hometown as the hiring manager. The final factor considered in the hiring decision was that they were former “Fighting Titans.” Was the quality of the job requisition not achieved due to recruiting?
  • The workload of the recruiter required assigning priorities based on the importance of the positions to the company’s stated goals. However, a politically connected manager was able to get their mid-level priority jobs assigned full-priority status. Not all critical staffing was met and the company goals were not 100% achieved. Was this due to the inability of the recruiter to manage tasks?

I obviously loaded the above examples to the extreme to prove a point. Yet in each instance, the recruiter did not achieve his or her full potential due to circumstances they did not control but clearly effected the perception of their performance.

So, if you want to measure a recruiter’s performance, make sure you measure the performance of the process, including the performance of the non-recruiting management staff in following and enforcing stated company policy.

Other Metrics to Consider

  • Time to recognize hire. The number of days the resume of the candidate hired was in the hands of the hiring manager.
  • Quality of not hired. A comparison of the top five applicants for a particular position plotted on a graph based on skill-matching. The hiring manager is required to stipulate the “no” decision on the four not hired.
  • Process override. Anytime a decision is made outside of common practice, policy, or standard process is signed off on by the manager making that decision. For example, not selecting the top ranked candidate in the example above.
  • Vendor relationship disclosure. When a vendor-client relationship extends outside the office the hiring manager must disclose all contacts, social engagement, meals, and gifts exchanged to ensure undo influence is not a factor in hiring decisions. (Especially when questions arise from “Quality of Not Hired” which involved a third-party candidate.)
  • Recruiter’s review. A recruiter’s review of the performance of a hiring manager based on objective measurements such as response time, availability for meetings and interviews, resume/job requisition matching, follow-up.

If a company doesn’t enforce their own staffing policies and practices and doesn’t require compliance from the non-recruiting staff involved in the process, then the only fault I can find with the recruiting staff is the obviously bad choice they made in employers.

If a company is willing to police their hiring managers to ensure they meet and comply with published staffing practices and policies and implement a disciplinary process for those who fail to comply, then it’s possible to also develop effective metrics and measurements for recruiters.

Ken Gaffey (kengaffey@comcast.net) is currently an employee of CPS Personal Services (www.cps.ca.gov) and has been involved in the Department of Homeland Security, Transportation Security Administration project since its inception. Prior to this National Security project Ken was an independent human resources and staffing consultant with an extensive career of diversified human resources and staffing experience in the high-tech, financial services, manufacturing, and pharmaceutical industries. His past clients include Hewlett Packard, First Data Corporation, Fidelity Investments, Fleet Bank, Rational Software, Ericsson, Astra Pharmaceutical, G&D Engineering, and other national and international industry leaders. In addition to contributing articles and book reviews to publications like ERE, Monster.com, AIRS, HR Today, and the International Recruiters Newsletter, Ken is a speaker at national and international conferences, training seminars, and other staffing industry events. Ken is a Boston native and has lived in the greater Boston area most of his life. Ken attended the University of South Carolina and was an officer in the United States Marine Corps.

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