How To Design Metrics To Accelerate Your Success

recruiting recruitment staffing Feb 14, 2023

As a coach and advisor to owners and leaders of recruiting firms, I've discovered that most firms don't capture the value that metrics offer for one of three reasons:

  1. They don't track metrics 
  2. They don't track metrics consistently 
  3. They consistently track metrics but don't use them properly

What has been your relationship with metrics? When I started in the recruiting industry in the early 90s, my employers insisted that all recruiters submit a weekly metrics report that was tracked manually. Their biggest emphasis was on each of us averaging at least 50 outbound phone calls daily. Instead of how this call volume would help us be more successful, my manager said that the metrics were just a requirement of the job.

They didn't use a phone system to measure calls. We were expected to use "tick marks" on a sheet of paper, which nobody, including myself, did consistently. The norm was for people to make up a number greater than 50 or at least close enough to avoid hearing a lecture from the manager. We rarely received any feedback unless our numbers were "too low," in which case we knew to fabricate a higher number next time!  There was never an analysis of the ratios to help us improve either.

Unfortunately, I learned to see metrics as something I wanted to avoid instead of a means to support my success. As a result, when I started my own recruiting firm, I was thrilled to discard this "useless burden" as another benefit of being an owner. My overreaction turned out to be a mistake. After a few years of wandering the wilderness without a metrics roadmap, I reluctantly reevaluated my previous assumptions and beliefs and chose to learn how to use metrics properly. The results? Our revenue increased while our down months and feelings of overwhelm dropped significantly!

There are two different types of metrics you need to measure: activity metrics and outcome metrics. Activity Metrics refer to specific activities (actions) that directly contribute to achieving a goal or outcome. Examples of activity metrics include the number of job orders created and the number of candidate submittals. Outcome metrics refer to outcomes that occur due to these activities, for example, placements and revenue.


Tracking Revenue & Placements

One of the challenges of the recruiting business is the lag between activities such as candidate submittals and outcomes such as placements. The question isn't whether you should track outcome goals. It's whether you should make this a focal point in managing yourself and others. There are several problems with focusing on outcomes rather than the activities that produce the outcomes:

  • You set yourself up for more emotional ups and downs. Anyone with years of experience in the recruiting industry knows you can do everything right and not make placements due to factors outside your control. Focusing on placements ties your emotions to things out of your control, which sets you up for frequent disappointments that can harm motivation and well-being.
  • You can do almost nothing right and make placements due to things out of your control falling in your favor. This can lead you to believe you can do the wrong things and succeed anyway. Over time, your results will vastly differ based on whether you consistently take the right or wrong actions. Focusing on performing the appropriate activities instead of results encourages you to put the emphasis where it belongs 


Long-term motivation and activity metrics

It's difficult for recruiting professionals to sustain their motivation since many activities that create success are not always stimulating. Energy and enthusiasm around the "daily grind" of the business naturally subside, causing people to seek distractions like smartphones, social media, email management, etc. Sound familiar? 

Studies demonstrated that two key components lead to feeling motivated:

  1. The belief that you can control your results. Believing that you have a success roadmap contributes to the view that you control your results. If you believe your results are out of your control, the feeling of "what's the point?" will soon follow.
  2. Your efforts consistently lead to some tangible progress, even if small. You can consistently make progress on activity metrics every week, even though you can go weeks without making a placement. That feeling of weekly progress keeps the  "what's the point" feeling at bay


Criteria for selecting the appropriate metrics for your firm

  • Start with the small number of activities that have the most direct impact on placements. Please don't overdo it and track everything since this becomes a burden that isn't worth the effort. Examples of metrics that apply to most recruiting firms include internal candidate submittals, submittals to clients, internal interviews of candidates, client interviews of candidates, and job orders created.
  • Make sure you know how you'll track each metric and keep it as simple as possible. Your ATS should track most of your metrics. Suppose you measure the number of candidate outreach attempts via email, phone, or text. In that case, you may need to set up workflows or statuses in your ATS to distinguish sourced candidate outreach from all other candidate communications.
  • You'll want to find a simple, consistent method to track activity that occurs within LinkedIn. This is one of the most challenging metrics to measure; you want to find a simple, consistent way to do this or consider not counting it. 

In summary, properly selected activity metrics allow you to control your results while continuously making tangible progress to keep motivation flowing. If you’re interested in scaling a recruiting firm or optimizing recruiting firm productivity, then it’s essential for you to develop and implement an effective metrics program.

Since the topic of metrics is very extensive, I will share the second part of this article (How To Make Metrics A Win For Everyone) in two weeks. I'm getting excited with anticipation. How about you?

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