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Is your recruiter killing IT or killing YOUR BUSINESS

15 Aug 2018 by

recruitment marketing

So, after reading last month’s article, “Is Your Recruiter All Wrong for Your Business” you realize recruiting is not a one size fits all approach and you should instead assess the best type of recruiter for each open position.  Great!  But, how do you tell a good recruiter from a bad one?  Fortunately, recruiting is profession riddled with key-performance metrics (KPIs).  The importance of each metric can depend on industry, company, and even the open position itself.  Here, we discuss three metrics commonly used to determine whether your talent acquisition professional is awfully good or just plain awful – time to fill position, number of positions filled, and retention.

Time to Fill

Imagine a world in which you post an open position and fill it the same day, giving you a time to fill rate of 1 day.  Sounds amazing, right?!  Not so fast.  Like most things, faster is not necessarily better.  How quickly you fill a position says a lot about your hiring process.  Where are you posting the open position?  Can current employees apply to it?  Who interviews candidates?  How many interviews before hiring?  All of these decisions can impact your time to fill rate.  So, how much time should it take to fill your positions?  It depends.  Studies show companies are taking longer to fill open positions, likely due to the low unemployment population.  According to SHRM’s Talent Acquisition Benchmarking Report, the average time to fill a job in 2017 was 36 days, an increase from previous years.  The more technical the job, traditionally the higher the time-to-fill rate, as recruiters and hiring managers are more interested in hiring someone with skills and experience to hit the ground running.  If you are looking for a rare hybrid of skills such as technical sales, data suggests time fill rates are even longer.  Tip:  Work with your recruiter to identify the open positions most critical to your organization so he/she can approach acquiring talent strategically.  Research average time to fill rates for similar job openings, your industry, and your geographic location to get an idea as to how long you can expect the position to be open.  Be sure to consider your interview process when calculating a timeframe.  If you feel this timeframe is too long, evaluate the scope of your job opening, looking for opportunities to expand your candidate pool.  Does the position need to be limited to a specified geographic location, or can a person perform the job remotely?  How important are the experience and education requirements you’ve listed?  If you decide that the timeframe to fill the position is too burdensome on your company yet you are unable (or unwilling) to modify the restrictive position requirements, consider investing in a more aggressive, specialized recruiting practice such as hiring a specialized contract recruiter.  You may also consider engaging an expert or independent contractor to do the critical aspects of the open position temporarily while you and your recruiter work on hiring an employee.  These options while expensive, may be less than the true cost of running your business without a key position filled.  This is particularly true if you anticipate it will take some time to find the right person.  Remember recruiters, however amazing, cannot perform miracles (to my knowledge).  So, engage their expertise and together create a plan for your company’s success.

Number of Positions Filled

I worked with a company years ago who at one point was hiring (and starting) 50+ employees per month, many of which were remote employees.  Considering the company itself consisted of around 250 employees, these waves of new hires often felt like huge jolts to the existing culture.  Needless to say, our onboarding process was disastrous and employees, especially those working remotely, struggled to be effective in their roles.  Our recruiters however were praised for the number of positions they filled, regularly.  Were our recruiters doing a good job or bad job?  Again, it depends.  There is no doubt they were diligent in their pursuit to fill positions, quickly!  But, because we as a company placed too much emphasis on this one metric, failing to realize we were unable to sustain and support this rate of hiring, our hiring practice was reckless and shortsighted.  Number of positions filled is a great way to judge a recruiter’s activity; however only when examined in combination with other qualitative metrics is it a valuable tool.  Tip:  Find the right combination of qualitative and quantitative metrics for your talent acquisition team and stick to it.  Human nature has a tendency to value activity so it’s your job to ensure activity is of value to your organization.


What’s the best way to avoid recruiting challenges?  Keep employees forever of course!  At least, this is what seems to be the newest business trend as companies obsess over retention.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics though, the average time someone remains in one job is 4.2 years.  So, does this mean all companies are hiring poorly?  What about companies that knowingly and willingly have high attrition such as temporary employment agencies, or companies providing transitional employment opportunities (employment designed to help workers acquire experience, skills, and/or training often for the purpose of getting better jobs)?  Or, how about businesses that serve as a supplemental income such as rideshare companies like Lyft and Uber or even food-service establishments?  Because these companies typically have low retention, are they recruiting poorly? No.  A company’s low retention does not reflect poor recruiting or hiring if this is what they’ve determined what is right for their business.  Next month we discuss how to identify retention problems disguised as hiring problems, but for the sake of this article, it’s important to note that retention is not the end-all-be-all metric to scrutinize a recruiter’s performance.  A friend of mine owns a house-cleaning business.  Because my mom worked for herself cleaning houses to support me and my brother, I was quick to ask my friend how they find their employees.  “We don’t really have a problem finding employees, it’s just keeping them that we struggle with.”  Excited at the thought that I could help – I continued to ask her more about her business.  “So, where do you find your employees”, I asked.  It was then that she shared with me that most of their employees were students, cleaning to earn a supplemental income while going to school.  Puzzled, I asked her how long she wanted them to work for her.  She responded smiling and reluctantly said “well…..forever”.  In this case, a more realistic retention goal was four years…….the time period in which her employees were students.  They found the job appealing for a defined period in their lives and in no way applied for the job with the intention of cleaning forever.  Based on their recruiting strategy, they had great retention.  So, how long do you expect your employees to work for you?  How are you incorporating this timeframe into your recruiting strategy?  Tip:  Determine a realistic retention goal for your company and your open positions, and recruit with this in mind.  Does your company allow for growth?  If you lack the opportunity for growth in your company yet you are hiring mid-level professionals interested in climbing the corporate ladder, a retention goal of even five years may be stretching it.  Once you’ve determined your ideal retention period – hold your recruiters, managers, and HR accountable as ALL play a part in the company’s employee experience. 

Is your Recruiter is Killing IT or Killing YOUR BUSINESS?

Once you’ve established some reasonable and measurable goals for your recruiting needs, assess the recruiter’s strengths and weaknesses against the recruiting needs of your business.  I asked Krisanne Elsner, owner of ElsnerHR, a premier recruiting firm specializing in HR and recruiting staffing, what leaders should look for when selecting a recruiter for their business.  She recommends the following 3 things:  environment, strategy, and involvement.  Identify the environment the recruiter has worked in previously to identify the pace and workload he/she is most comfortable.  Ask the potential recruiters what tools and resources they find most helpful in finding candidates – avoiding recruiters with little strategy, often referred to the “post and pray” approach.  And finally learn what level of involvement the potential recruiter maintains in the process once the job is “filled”.  Some recruiters are more relationship focused and will continue to interact with their recruits walking them through onboarding and perhaps even orientation.  Other recruiters however will focus solely on the sourcing and placing candidates, not interacting with candidates much after they accept the position (and the position is considered “filled”).  This cut-off point varies from company-to-company, so it’s important to define the level of involvement that you deem appropriate and coordinate with your recruiter.  By identifying both qualitative and quantitative KPIs based on your company’s unique needs and the type of talent acquisition professional to provide support, you will be able to hire confidently, and effectively.

By Teresa Marzolph, People Strategist and Founder of Culture Engineered.

With over 13 years of HR experience, Teresa Marzolph has helped both small businesses and large corporations attract, develop, and retain top industry talent.  In 2017 she founded Culture Engineered, a culture-focused HR solutions company providing strategy and support to small and mid-sized businesses. 

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