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Which hiring metrics truly matter?

As the Director of Customer Success here at Textio, I spend a lot of my time working with customers to help them define their goals and measure them. Over the last couple of years of close work with Fortune 500 and small businesses alike, I’ve learned which metrics tell the clearest story about real business growth, and how to track them carefully. Today I’ll share some tips on how to measure the data in your hiring process that most drives your company’s success.

First thing: Your whole organization knows your goals, and everyone is accountable for them

We’ll talk about which goals matter most in a minute. But whatever goals you set, you need organizational buy-in about their importance. Need to hire 200 people for your New York office by October? Need to make sure that every demographic group in your pipeline is passing your interview process at the same rate?

Whatever goals you set, your whole hiring team needs to be aware of them. That includes recruiters, HR pros, executives, and hiring managers. And it goes beyond simple goal sharing. Everyone is jointly responsible for meeting the goals, and everyone is accountable if they aren’t met.

Accountability starts with measurement and changing your active practices to see how the changes help you with your goal. We are always surprised when people tell us that they’ve tried everything and they can’t change their pipeline no matter what they do. We often ask, “What are you doing differently from what you did a year ago that makes you so sure?” The answer is often, “Actually, nothing,” or “I don’t know.”

Where do you stand? Knowing requires collecting the right data

As a talent leader, you’re probably always asking yourself a few key questions: What does my applicant funnel look like? Which roles are the most popular, and which are impossible to fill? Am I attracting the most qualified people, or am I losing them to competitors? Is my team offering a phenomenal candidate experience to everyone, given the sheer volume of applicants that come through the door? Our sourcers and recruiters are bringing the brightest people to our hiring teams—are they interested in what we have to offer?

Asking great questions is the first step, but it’s incomplete. For every question that matters to your progress, you need to a way to measure it. That means that everyone on your hiring team contributes data along the way.

Let’s say that your recruiting team is working on hiring network engineers. The recruiters have reported that these roles are tough to source for, especially in striving for a diverse applicant pool. On the other hand, the recruiting team loves hiring data scientists — they feel that the market is hot and they see lots of talented people applying. As a result, the team is asking for additional resources to source network engineering talent.

How do you know whether they need these additional resources? Unfortunately, if you’re not collecting hiring data along the way, then you don’t.

But what if, for every job you post, you systematically collect data about the number of people who apply, the number who get screened, how long each role takes to fill, and how many recruiters are assigned to the job function? Maybe you’re also using Textio to track how the language in the different job posts performs too. If you’re collecting that data, then you can look at the real outcomes to make an evidence-based assessment.

If you look and find that yes, network engineer roles see half as many candidates and take twice as long to fill, then maybe you do need additional staffing resources for these roles. But if you find that the recruiting process for the two roles is netting out the same for the business, then maybe you have another problem to debug.

Clear data areas: Your funnel, your hiring time, and your diversity

The most successful companies collect metrics in three major areas.

Funnel: Many large companies track their candidate funnel, but this is still a challenge for smaller businesses. Even large companies don’t always use their ATS to best advantage. At Textio, we’ve seen that companies that collect not only applicant count, but also additional detailed metrics are the most successful. How many applicants got through screening and onsite interviews? Which demographics do the candidates for each role identify themselves with?

Even if you don’t have an ATS, even if you are only recording this information in a spreadsheet, it is important to track the funnel. If you don’t, you are losing valuable information about how your role got to the outcome it did and why your hiring outcomes aren’t predictable.

Time: How long did it take for your roles to fill? This information is critical to help you ramp up or down hiring to hit business growth goals. But time to fill isn’t enough on its own; you also want to collect the job post publication and hire dates for each position. This gives you concrete information about whether your hiring is cyclical, or if there is a deeper problem at certain stages of the hiring process.

Are you attracting a qualified and diverse candidate pool in the first and second stages of your interview process but seeing things stagnate at the third stage? Measuring each pipeline stage with dates gives you this kind of insight.

Diversity: You can and should track demographic information where you are permitted to and where candidates choose to provide it. Be aware of candidate privacy, and don’t try to guess someone’s demographic affiliation if they choose not to provide it.

What you don’t measure, you cannot improve. Many companies track and set measurable demographic goals in hiring — and we have customers with hiring goals about gender, ethnicity, veteran status, disability status, and more. A diverse workforce is known to improve business outcomes. Again, the key here is not just setting the goal, but in holding the whole hiring team accountable for achieving it.

How to track your metrics to drive successful outcomes

Knowing what metrics to track is important but knowing how to track them is equally (if not more) important. Before you get started tracking, as you are selecting an ATS or as you are transitioning to a new system there are a few items to consider.

  1. Own your data: Know what fields you are tracking and why. Back up the information you are tracking to a data warehouse where you can join data from all the systems you are using.
  2. Every job is unique: Create a unique identifier for every role you post. Don’t reopen the same requisition ID even if you’re hiring for the same role — always choose a new one. It’s the only way you can track what happens in today’s job market versus last year’s market. So-called evergreen roles are not evergreen to the candidate pool. If you change anything about the job post (requirements, education, even just a word) and repost it, use a new identifier. Refining what you are looking for attracts a different group of people.
  3. Everyone is unique: If you post a single job post and use it to hire multiple people, that’s okay, as long as you have a unique identifier for each candidate. A single requisition identifier in this isn’t enough. Time to first hire is much different than the average time to fill ten positions of the same title on the same requisition.
  4. Dates matter: The words you use today have a different impact than they did a year ago. In your candidate funnel attach a time stamp to each stage and automatically populate these timestamps when your candidate moves through the stages.
  5. Self-identification is important: From any demographic grouping, it is important to record what the applicant identifies. Don’t try to guess. Self-identification is integral to someone’s identity. Including a prefer-not-to-answer option is critical.
  6. Accountability with the candidate: Be intentional in the way that you are measuring. If candidates want to know, share what you collect. Tell them why you are collecting certain information and how you use and store the data.

Measurement is iterative; continuously set goals and expand as you see successes

By setting goals, measuring progress against them, and holding entire hiring teams accountable, you can figure out where things are succeeding and double down on those. You can also find out where things are failing and remove or update those job posts, sourcing strategies, interview processes, and so on. Most of all you can own this data and begin to use it to drive your strategic business decisions moving forward.

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