Recruitment Metrics 101: Adding Transparency to Your Work

Feel like your relationship with data is…complicated? I hear this from a lot of our customers. On the one hand, everyone says they want to be data-driven and the boss is typically demanding it, but in reality, few people are actually getting a lot of useful information out of their data. While there are lots of recommended best practices, when you consider the chronically jam-packed schedule of the typical recruiter, it’s easy to see how “data” gets added to the to-do list, but never quite gets checked off.

We spend a lot of time thinking about data-driven recruiting and recruitment metrics here at Greenhouse—in fact, our Director of Talent Acquisition Lauren Ryan wrote an entire eBook on the 5 Recruiting Key Performance Indicators we use here.

But what if you agree that you’d like to be more data-driven, but you’re not ready for the sophistication of what we recommend in the eBook? What is the first thing you can do?

I’d like to show you a simple way that you can begin to get more meaning from your data.  

Problem: Lack of visibility leads to lack of trust

For hiring managers, the entire recruiting process can feel mysterious. They know that a job opens up and at some point later it closes, but they don’t typically see what’s happening between those two steps.

This creates a problematic dynamic between hiring managers and recruiters. Hiring managers get nervous, impatient, and lose confidence in the process. Due to this anxiety, they then approach recruiters with urgent (but not necessarily useful) requests for updates (e.g. “I want a giant spreadsheet each week with 27 columns that I don’t even understand!). Recruiters then scramble around to gather this obscure data and have to respond defensively.

It’s easy to see how this chain of events can lead to strained relations, but if you take a step back, you can see that it all boils down to one simple question on hiring managers’ minds: Why haven’t we made the hire?

Once you understand that the root of the problem is a lack of visibility into what recruiters are doing and what sort of progress they’re making, coming up with a solution isn’t nearly so intimidating.

Solution: Proactively provide regular, useful updates  

In order to improve the recruiter/hiring manager dynamic, recruiters need to commit to proactively providing regular, useful updates on recruitment metrics.

If hiring managers can trust that they’re going to get regular updates that answer their most pressing questions, their fears go away. They understand what’s happening throughout the recruiting process and instead of hounding recruiters for details, they ask how they can help.

So how do you provide these regular, useful updates?

First, you should commit to a specific date and time. Block out 30 minutes on your calendar every Friday afternoon, for example, so your hiring managers know when they can expect to hear from you.

Second, be sure to include both data points as well as editorial. The numbers won’t always tell the whole story, so you can add a little more detail with some brief notes. You might have a really promising candidate who’s coming in for an onsite interview or someone who came in from an employee referral—hiring managers love to hear these types of things! This is also a great opportunity to ask for what you need from the hiring manager in order to keep the process moving.

This may sound like extra work, but it’s not—it replaces all the running around that you’ve been doing responding to those ad hoc requests.

Once you set expectations with hiring managers, they’ll know when your updates are coming and will (hopefully) quit sending you those panicked, urgent requests.

Here’s my personal experience: We built the “Email Recruiting Reports” feature (described below) using feedback from a few customers who were trying to do this process manually. When we rolled it out and my recruiting team started using it, even I was surprised at how much it changed our conversation. Instead of me randomly asking nitpicky questions about specific candidates or generally whining about not having enough candidates, the recruiters were able to really change our conversation by proactively providing these updates and telling me what I needed to do.

How Greenhouse can help

If you’re already a Greenhouse customer, great news! You can easily create and send these reports to stakeholders like hiring managers and executives through Greenhouse.

Here’s how it works:

Under the Greenhouse “Reports” tab, click on the “Email recruiting updates” button.

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You then have the ability to filter by jobs and departments. Choose the jobs that are relevant to the person you are sending an update to.

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This will generate a report email that provides a high-level overview of the recruitment metrics every role you’ve selected. The report shows which roles are open and how many active candidates you have for each role, and you have the ability to add in your editorial notes to fill in the details like what’s happening with your agency, who’s coming in through referrals, and which candidates look especially promising. See the screenshot below for an example of what this email looks like with a few editorial notes added in.

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My suggestion is to try this out with an “easy” hiring manager first. Learn which information they find most useful, make adjustments accordingly, and then try it out with everyone else.

Final thoughts

If there’s one point I want to make sure to get across, it’s that “using data” isn’t always about fancy charts and graphs or “big data” insights that lead to aha moments. It can simply be useful, focused communication that changes how your team works together. Try it out and let me know how it goes!


For more insights on recruiting metrics, be sure to download our eBook, The 5 Recruiting KPIs. Simply click the button below!

The 5 Recruiting KPIs

Jon Stross

Jon Stross is President and Co-Founder of Greenhouse. At Greenhouse, Jon drives the product strategy and works closely with customers and partners to build a platform that improves recruiting performance. Before founding Greenhouse, Jon served as the GM for BabyCenter.com and was responsible for the global rollout of the business.

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Recruiting Metrics