“We Are Measuring the Wrong Things”

“We are measuring the wrong things.” When I said that on a recent ERE webinar, I knew I couldn’t take it back. Nor would I want to.

What happened after I said that was kind of like that slow-motion thing that happens when I curse in front of my 5-year-old daughter: We all look around, try to figure out what happened, then slowly explain to her what I meant.

“You can’t manage what you don’t measure.” “What gets measured gets improved. Both are quotes by management legend Peter Drucker. Such remarks best explain why metrics matter in business, including in recruiting and sourcing. 

When we talk about recruiting, there is no doubt that we are talking about complex processes. Aside from finding and enticing skilled individuals, recruiters have more on their plates than ever before. We have to play marketer, salesperson, guidance counselor, and therapist to both the candidate and the business leaders we support.

Whether you are an internal recruiter, agency collaborator, or RPO solutions provider, there’s a lot for you to learn, do, and grow from personally and professionally. That is why it’s imperative to continuously assess and refine recruitment strategies and their outcomes — and track recruiting metrics. Those areas are measured by some important numbers — and one that is crucial to communicate to the business and partners is time to hire.

At ERE Digital, April 6-7, I’ll be talking about which metrics, including time to hire, deserve the most — and least — attention when hiring for speed and efficiency. In the meantime, it’s worth thinking more deeply about what we really mean by time to hire, as well as how to measure it best. 

Going Deep with Time to Hire

At a basic level, time to hire is pretty much the period of time that passes between a recruiter posting about a job opening and someone popping the champagne because they got that job. Put otherwise, it represents the exact number of calendar days that it takes to hire an employee for a vacancy after a job requisition has been approved.

But time to hire can be misleading because there are other ratios that we need to consider to make the time-to-hire number more accurate. 

By analyzing the time an applicant spends in each stage of your recruiting process, you can identify bottlenecks that are impacting your hiring rates. And because the post-Covid recruiting process is so competitive, it’s important to move quickly — if you don’t, someone else will, and a great candidate will be off the market in no time. Here are some important ratios and the questions they answer:

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  • Days from application to phone screen. Do you have enough frontline resources to review applications? Are recruiters and hiring managers getting in front of candidates quickly after they apply?
  • Days from phone screen to onsite (virtual or in-person). Do you have an efficient means to find schedule availability for team members? Do you have a recruiting coordinator?
  • Days from onsite to offer. Do you have a process in place to gather interviewer feedback quickly and come to a decision? Do you have a structured and consistent interview process?
  • Days from offer to hire. Are candidates shopping around your offer? Are your offers competitive with market realities and candidate expectations? Are you rallying around the candidate after an offer has been made?

With time to hire, your funnel metrics, your open requisitions, and your quarterly hiring goals, you can build out a simple forecast to track toward your quarterly plan. It’s worthwhile to segment this by department or requisition so you can rally your company around hard-to-fill roles. Recruiting is a team sport, and a detailed forecast can illuminate to the team where their peers need the most help hiring.

The Uses of Time to Hire

Time to hire and its associated metrics are an excellent method for business planning and preparing for unexpected situations. For example, when a role becomes vacant, the company becomes understaffed. The employees who are still working are left faced with increased workloads, added responsibilities, and impossible-to-meet deadlines. That creates a lot of stress for workers and unforeseen costs for the company (like people perhaps having to be paid more if they’re working overtime). 

The only solution is hiring a replacement to help out and reduce the burnout employees are facing. By using time to hire as a forecasting metric, you can plan ahead. You can figure out how to manage and reschedule the workload over the time it takes to fill out the vacancy left behind by a departing employee.

Additionally, time to hire can help you acknowledge and fix some flaws in your recruitment process. For instance, have you ever wondered why it takes you so long to fill out a specific position? It’s a great job, pays well! So where’s the bump in the road?

When consistently tracking time to hire, you can get a sense of what you’re doing wrong by looking at every step of the recruitment process individually. Maybe your job application process is too long and complicated and it needs some alterations. Perhaps you need to speed up the resume screening part and call people for interviews faster. It could be any number of things you never paid attention to before.


Join Brian at ERE Digital, April 6-7, for his presentation, “Winning the Numbers Game: Metrics That Matter Most to Amp Up Hiring Velocity.” Register here.

In 280 characters or less, Brian Fink is a senior technical sourcer at Twitter. Obsessed with all things sourcing and recruiting, Fink focuses on attracting open-source technologists who want to build the future!

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