It should come as no surprise, but if you look at trends for search words like “recruiting metrics” or “data-driven” over the last five years, the lines tick upward. Related topics appear too, drawing a clear correlation between data and sourcing, metrics and talent management, artificial intelligence and analysis. You get the picture. And yet somewhere amid all that searching, the practice of examining recruiting data and metrics seems to have gone totally off the rails.

Finding the Problem

The trouble probably began around 2013 with the rise of “Big Data.” Back then, all anyone could talk about was the promise of capital B, Big Data and what it would do for recruiters, seemingly bogged down by thousands of resumes. At the time, the job market was starting to come around post-Recession, and for we could predict at the time, there might always be hundreds of interested candidates per job opening. So Big Data made sense – recruiters would be stupid not to leverage it! Or so we’re were told.

Coupled with Big Data came another timely favorite: predictive analytics. Pairing Big Data and these analytics together and recruiters were going to be able to take over the world. Or something like that. Digging back into the archives, we found proof of this kind of lofty thinking, summarized by Jonathan Ferrar,As Big Data and Analytics penetrates the entire organizational structure of any business looking for new ways to gain a competitive advantage, some companies have already realized that getting that edge over the competition really relies on analyzing and using this data as a driver for extremely precise, extremely informed decision making in areas like sourcing and recruiting, productivity, customer service, innovation, execution and the behaviors of individual employees and aggregate workforces alike.”

Quite a tall order – and things only picked up speed from there. We spent the next few years debating the specifics of how and why all this data would improve talent acquisition – not just locally but globally too. And so recruiting teams the world over started quantifying every single thing they did. Heck, there are probably recruiters out there bragging about their response time down to the millisecond. It’s that out of control.

Amending Use

Of course, all this nitpicking aside, metrics do matter. One-hundred percent. But a good chunk of that data we’re collecting isn’t going to improve hiring outcomes, no matter which way we slice or dice it. Plus, “data-driven decision making” is only as good as the data you’re using…and the recruiting strategy you’re supporting.

Not to mention everything else that’s happened over since this conversation got started. Now there’s AI and machine learning to factor into the equation, giving us “intelligent automation” that learns as it goes and supposedly makes us mere mortals smarter as a result. In theory that sounds great. In practice, most of us don’t even know which data to measure anymore – or who is actually looking at it. We’re wandering around in a forest of information, and all anyone really needs is a compass, to help find true north. Not that anyone has the time for that.

At last count, there were dozens of metrics ripe for the tracking – from the arguably subjective “quality of hire” to the objective “application completion rate.” And I’m sure arguments could be made for the value and efficacy of each, provided you’re using these to better the recruiting process. Though, are we? Because chances are, the majority of active candidates would list the same common complaints we’ve heard for upward of a decade – the application is too long, the fields don’t autofill once their resume uploads, they never heard back from anyone, they don’t know their status, so on and so forth. The very definition of a disconnect (and a digression).

Data Dieting

The good news is, recruiters are no longer eagerly anticipating the arrival of Big Data and predictive analytics. That already happened. It’s here. It’s available. It’s useful – mostly. And with that in mind, we’re empowered to find low key ways to make metrics work – in moderation. No more do recruiters need to try and keep up with the results of every metric imaginable. That’s right. I’m giving you permission to track only the things that serve your recruiting needs – or really, only the things you’re going to have time to look at and implement in a real way.

That might sound scary to some, considering how reliant we’ve become over the last few years. In reality, cutting back on the data binge and focusing only on those impactful metrics will likely aid in the efficiency, enabling recruiters to dig deeper rather than spreading themselves too thin. You don’t need to turn the firehose off entirely, instead, turn down the pressure. The hires won’t stop, I swear.

Ryan Leary

Ryan Leary helps create the processes, ideas and innovation that drives RecruitingDaily. He’s our in-house expert for anything related to sourcing, tools or technology. A lead generation and brand buzz building machine, he has built superior funnel systems for some of the industries top HR Tech and Recruitment brands. He is a veteran to the online community and a partner here at RecruitingDaily.