Rational Recruiting: Big Data Myths Debunked

Have you ever been inside a factory? The sounds of machines cranking, the hustle and bustle of the room, the smell of steam. There’s something to admire about this image of efficiency, where every element has been tuned just right to produce whatever product it makes at the maximum rate while every piece of the system works synchronously like a metal orchestra.

So often we talk about recruiting as marketing or metaphorically compare it with dating but when I see that image of process and synchronization, I really wish our best practices lent themselves to a manufacturing metaphor. See, manufacturing is all about operationalizing and optimizing to make a better product in the future. Their most core philosophies revolve around making something work more efficiently based on measured inputs and outputs. They look at every widget and cycle to assure timeliness and production efficiencies. It’s a far cry from many of our own models, if we’re being honest.

Often times when it comes to recruiting, the over-stated, under utilized philosophy goes something like this: understanding the success of how we hire means measuring our progress every step of the way, much like an operations expert might look at a machine. Most recruiters (and recruiting listicles) can agree that measurement is the key to making better decisions down the line and ultimately hiring exceptional candidates.

With that philosophy in mind, we’ve adopted a standard of metrics that we continually leverage to make our hiring processes more intelligent and our businesses more successful: cost-per-hire; time-to-hire; number of applicants; applicants per position; the list goes on. No doubt these metrics are effective at keeping our companies streamlined, our budgets under control, and our teams fully staffed — but there’s a change brewing in the industry that might surprise you.

Diagnosing Culture: The New Big Data

According to Jobvite’s annual Recruiter Nation Report 2016, recruiters now care more about what happens after the hire, instead of before. While traditional metrics do still matter, recruiters know they’re successful today when talent ramps quickly and performs at high levels. Almost 40 percent of recruiters rate performance of a new hire as the most important metric for evaluating their success, followed by almost 25 percent who report retention rate is most essential. From there, it drops all the way down to just 13 percent of recruiters who state that time-to-hire is most important, while 11 percent answer cost-per-hire.

And it makes sense right? This is a metric we should have been focused on all along. It’s the most rational measure of recruiting success and the importance of fast ramp times and higher performance is only compounded by an alarming trend in decreasing employee tenures. With millennials switching jobs every 3-4 years and a shortage of STEM workers, recruiters must constantly compete to hold onto the best quality talent. It’s simple math – with these short tenures, you’re going to turn 25-35% of your millennial workforce every year. Yes, you read that right – minimum 30% turnover year over year, coming soon to a hiring department near you.

The why here is pretty simple. To keep up with the Joneses (in this case, other recruiters), it’s time to reevaluate how we measure success. The how, though, is where it gets a bit tougher. Guaranteeing that a candidate is going to be a perfect fit and immediately produce results has never been possible — and it’s an equation recruiters have always tried to solve. Based on our data and experiences, we believe there are three areas where companies can start to measure and hire better people.

Who Do You Serve? Variables for Employee Success

minionWe know “culture” is a huge part of the hiring decision. In fact, it’s now one of the top concerns for both job seekers and recruiters when it comes to finding a good fit. According to the same Recruiter Nation Report, 60 percent of recruiters rate culture fit of high importance when making a hiring decision — topped only by previous job experience (67 percent) —  trumping other factors like cover letters (26 percent), prestige of college (21 percent), and GPA (19 percent). Moreover, 51 percent of recruiters plan to increase efforts in branding their employee culture in the coming year.

Where many companies struggle on culture is establishing what culture even means to your organization without creating some mirror image of Zappos or some other big brand that conferences point to as a case study; a true, authentic definition that accurately captures your team’s motivations and approach to problems.

Look around – do you value team bonding, and host game nights every Friday? Are you into furthering employee education, therefore helping your team to invest in learning new skills? Perhaps collaboration is key and is supplemented by an open floor plan and a flat structure. Whatever it may be, knowing in the first step. You have to find what makes your company most unique and use that as a primary value proposition in the hiring equation from day 1. Be honest. Persuading people with an inauthentic employer brand is the same as not know what yours is at all, just with a prettier cover story and will drive your turnover rate even higher.

Culture feeds the two areas where we believe recruiting can make the largest impact on hiring.

Focus on the Onboarding Process

Let’s not forget that how employees enter your company will set the tone for the rest of their stay. Unfortunately, most recruiters aren’t spending enough time onboarding employees. Only 27 percent of hiring professionals have a dedicated onboarding solution, while 41 percent just use spreadsheets and email. And 42 percent of them spend 8 or fewer hours training new employees.

We’ve all been there – it’s a scary thing walking into a completely new company on the first day. Building and communicating a strong (and accurate) employment brand can go a long way to take the mystery out of “the first day.” And once they’re at their desk, you need a simple and collaborative process for getting employees ramped quickly because the reality is that the top performers aren’t going to stay as long as you’d like. So every day counts. According to a blog from O.C. Tanner, 69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding.

Invest in Employees Long Term

The last piece of the puzzle is a seemingly obvious one — but one that is worth repeating. If you want an employee to feel compelled to stay with your company for the long term and perform at a high level, make sure you show them how much you believe in their potential. No employee wants to stay at a company where they can’t visualize their future, so it’s essential to invest in them for the long term.

What does that look like? Whether it’s professional development, salary negotiation, education opportunities, or simply support via mentorship, investing in employees just means helping them live up to their full potential in your company and ensuring them that you’re always thinking of their future. However it makes sense for you, the key to this is simply being genuine and caring about your employees. A little bit of investment goes a long way, I can promise you — so long, in fact, that you might have some staying for longer than four years.

About The Author

matt singerMatt Singer is Jobvite’s fearless marketing leader. He’s officially been in marketing and sales for the past 15 years, but informally for 30+ years starting with cookie, lemonade, and lawn mowing businesses in his neighborhood at the age of 8.

Outside of work, Matt is a proud husband, father, and “manphibian.” He tries to spend as much time as possible in the water abalone diving, fishing, and surfing.

A self-proclaimed data geek, Matt has spent his career channeling that data obsession into building great brands and scalable marketing machines. His career in B2B has focused primarily on the world of HR software, but recruiting is his biggest professional passion.

Follow him on Twitter @matthewdsinger or connect with him on LinkedIn.

Matt Singer

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