CEO and co-founder Greenhouse
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Recruitment: why data is key to successful hiring

Data is carefully collected and analysed to monitor sales and marketing efforts, but many organisations aren’t doing the same for their hiring process. To attract the best talent, it’s critical that recruitment is an automated, measurable process.

13th Apr 2021
CEO and co-founder Greenhouse
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virtual job interview interviewer looking at paper CV while on video call with candidate
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Talent operations is the machine that keeps all the recruitment gears in motion, and a lot of that framework is made of data. Collecting accurate data informs an iterative approach and equips hiring teams with best practices and data on previous processes so they can develop expertise in hiring for a wide variety of roles.

Organisations that are great at recruitment have made hiring a first-class process that deserves continual attention. 

Organisations rely heavily on data for sales, marketing and software development to strengthen and enhance business performance, yet how many put an equivalent emphasis on improving the hiring process like this? This article will show you how to put a crucial part of the system in place to do just that, and explain why it’s so important.

First class all the way

Organisations that are great at recruitment have made hiring a first-class process that deserves continual attention. It’s a massive evolution compared with the organisations that relegate hiring to something they occasionally pull out and then store away, like the company punchbowl.

Getting great at hiring means building processes with clear KPIs and measuring with the intention of continuous improvement. In our book, Talent Makers, we dive into four specific competencies of world-class hiring including: the candidate experience, recruiting, and making hiring decisions.

The fourth competency we describe as, ‘using data to drive operational excellence and improve over time’. It’s a little different from the other three competencies as it is the thread to weave those other three into the fabric of your organisation. That thread is made of data: how can you use data to measure and improve all the elements of the hiring experience.

The component parts

As we said, data is at the core of this competency, but so are measuring, auditing, and designing intentionally.

  • Measuring: strictly speaking, the data is not always that interesting. When you combine, parse and filter the data so you can see trends and anomalies, that’s where it becomes useful information and insights.
     
  • Auditing: the old adage recommends that you ‘trust but verify’. We don’t use the term ‘auditing’ to suggest that you hire more accountants to review the books. We mean that you need to know what’s actually going on inside processes and conversations.
     
  • Designing intentionally: don’t leave important, frequent processes like interviewing to chance. They should not only be scripted, but also scrutinised, so the granular experience is something you can be proud of. The same is true for rejection letters, offers, surveys, and other communications. It does not stop with communications, however – it extends to how visible you make hiring as a primary strategic function in your organisation.

Problem signs

Let’s look at three symptoms that indicate there’s work to be done to become operationally strong.

  • Systems and tools do not mesh: everyone does their own thing. Data is duplicated, it’s hard to know which versions of documents are the latest and reporting is a nightmare.
     
  • People don’t live in the tools: this may be due to people having their favorite spreadsheets, or not having been trained on the central tools. Either way, it becomes a downward spiral until people commit to all using a single system to do hiring.
     
  • Too much red tape: identify where hiring processes slow to a crawl, which is problematic for candidates and employees alike. Make it someone’s job to get consensus and begin to streamline those processes.

Useful measurements for hiring

Businesses in the B2B space are familiar with the idea of a marketing and sales funnel – the measurements that are based on these stages of the funnel allow the organisation to set goals and judge progress toward them. A similar structure exists in recruiting, so why not measure recruiting in a similarly rigorous way?

At a minimum an organisation should be tracking five KPIs that relate to recruiting:

  1. Qualified candidates per opening: this is the recruiting version of a ‘marketing qualified lead’. It gives you an internal benchmark for how soon you're likely to fill a role. It's more useful if you don't have just an overall average, but instead calculate it separately by role.
     
  2. Candidate survey results: the candidate experience is a leading indicator of the speed that a role may be filled. For every candidate who’s offered a job, many more do not get an offer – but both kinds of candidates may well tell their positive or negative story on Glassdoor. That in turn has a significant effect on your hiring brand. Be sure to measure continuously and by department, with departments rewarded or held responsible for results, as the case may be.
     
  3. Source to close: this is how quickly candidates move through your recruiting and interview process. It’s the number of days between when a candidate applies and when their offer is resolved, either by being accepted or rejected. Improving this number can pay dividends in a better candidate experience, and a more competitive hiring brand.
     
  4. Offer acceptance rate: this is the percentage of offers extended to candidates that are accepted. It is one of the better measures of your hiring brand and candidate experience and should merit regular monitoring.
     
  5. Hires to goal: this KPI is the big-picture outcome of your hiring efforts in a given period. You should be establishing your hiring goal by month, quarter and year. The goal should not be some arbitrary challenge on the part of a leader, but instead the result of knowing your numbers – how long it historically takes for you to fill your funnel with quality applicants, move them through the process and close offers. As with other measures, it's best done not only in aggregate but also by department.

Operational excellence comes from making hiring a first-class process that leaders focus on, is continually improved upon, and consists of measuring, auditing and designing intentionally. Having the right skills and behaviors to attract great talent is critical. When you intentionally design these things into automated, measurable processes, what you can begin to achieve is amazing.

Interested in this topic? Read Recruitment technology: hiring for impact using machine learning and data analysis.

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