So What?

It was a Tuesday morning and my 9 a.m. appointment just arrived at my office. The appointment was with one of my recruiters; we were meeting for a quarterly business review of his accounts.

He came prepared with a list of his accomplishments from Q4 and full-year 2006, including a summary of his performance against key metrics such as agency utilization, time to fill, and customer satisfaction.

As he outlined his results, I listened with great interest, taking notes on what he described as his key wins: Filled 89 positions, achieved time to fill of seven weeks, and ranked third in client satisfaction out of 20 recruiters.

Rich (not his real name) paused, then put his papers down. “What do you think about what you’ve just shared with me?” I asked.

He smiled and said, “I had a great year.” There was a pause, and he asked, “What do you think?”

“My first reaction is that you are meeting expectations,” I told a smiling Rich. “But my second reaction is so what?”

Rich’s smile turned to a frown, and he appeared taken aback. I wasn’t surprised; I had chosen these words deliberately.

“Don’t get me wrong,” I explained. “I’m not saying this in a negative sense. It’s another way of asking you what impact these results had on your clients.” Rich sat back in his chair, looked at his notes again, fidgeted somewhat, and said, “I’m not sure I understand?”

I then talked about the importance of articulating not only what the results were, but how the results helped clients achieve their business goals. In other words, did Rich help his clients “move the dial” by doing what he did as a recruiter? Was he able to clearly communicate the WIFFM (What’s In It For Me, from a client’s perspective in this example) to the clients? Did the clients understand the value and impact Rich personally had on their business through his results and contributions?

Put yourself in the shoes of Rich’s clients. If you were a vice president of sales, which of these statements would be more compelling to you?

We filled 89 positions in the central region with an average time to fill of seven weeks and at a cost per hire of about $5,400.

or

We filled 89 positions in the central region with an average time to fill of seven weeks. Filling the positions in this timeframe allowed the newly hired representatives to get onboard and subsequently complete their sales training early (i.e., in the April class rather than the May class), which means they were in their territory an average one month earlier than planned. Do the math. For 89 positions, this means you have:

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  1. Eighty-nine additional months of territory coverage, which not only preserved the market share of Achiphex in the region, but actually increased its market share despite a competitor’s product launch in the same timeframe.
  2. An additional 89 months of sales revenue generated by these representatives, allowing you to exceed your overall business plan.
  3. You may not go as far as to say this, but it also means the vice president of sales will probably get a bigger bonus.

Better yet, which of these statements demonstrates the value of the recruiter and his accomplishments to you and your business?

Isn’t the purpose of being in business to bring value to the customer through one’s products or services? If so, and it’s done right, the profits will follow. So why wouldn’t we in recruiting seize every opportunity to translate our accomplishments to the value it brings to our clients? This is not only about what sales or marketing contributes to the P&L, folks. Recruiting contributes to the bottom line, too. It’s up to all of us to demonstrate how.

It’s Not Only About Metrics

Recruiting, like most of HR, does not do a stellar job of linking activities, initiatives, and results to impact. It’s not enough to highlight activities; in some industries, it’s not even enough nowadays to show results.

To really get ahead, where the business case is king, you’d better be prepared to not only talk about what you do and how you do it, but about the positive impact your contributions have on the business. Demonstrating impact brings credibility to what you do, and underscores your value to the organization.

In HR’s perennial quest to get a seat at the table (or for some HR organizations, keep it), we’ve turned to metrics to try and quantify our results and contributions. The past couple of years have seen an explosion of metrics, from industry consultants helping develop metrics that matter to statistical software tools to help translate results to data, complete with jazzy graphs and diagrams.

Everyone seems to be measuring, or trying to measure, everything. HR organizations now have sophisticated dashboards and balanced scorecards that analyze cost, performance, and productivity. So what? In the metrics frenzy, don’t lose sight of the “so what.”

Although fancy charts and green dashboard lights are important and required, they simply can’t articulate the value and impact of the results we in recruiting deliver to the bottom line.

Take, for example, telling a vice president of research, “By hitting or exceeding these metrics and achieving these results, we’ve ensured you have the specific scientists you need to achieve your business goal of starting an oncology therapeutics area by 2008. By decreasing our agency usage and finding this talent through our internal sourcing team, we’ve avoided nearly $1 million in agency fees, which you can use to invest in building this new area. By achieving a quality of hire of 97%, we can say with confidence you have talent you need to make this happen.”

I guarantee this vice president’s comment won’t be, “So what?” And don’t be surprised if she says, “So tell me more!”

Lisa Calicchio, SPHR, is Director of Recruiting -- Pharmaceuticals Team, for Johnson & Johnson Recruiting, the internal talent acquisition organization of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. In this role, Lisa manages the development and delivery of talent acquisition strategies and execution for Johnson & Johnson?s U.S. pharmaceuticals and biotechnology operating companies. In addition to managing this segment of the business and a significant client base, Lisa focuses on enhancing JJR's consulting capabilities through specialty teams for business analytics, training, and recruitment marketing. Her background includes extensive experience as an HR generalist and recruiting, though she started her professional career "on the line" and held several line positions across key functional areas before moving from sales and marketing into HR.

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