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Susan LaMotte, HR Examiner Editorial Advisory Board Member

The battle over great recruiters reigns supreme.  Our industry holds hundreds of conferences. We give out awards. And we regularly complain short-term metrics like our requisition volumes or costs and times. But it all still seems to be about process. But are we just feeding the execution machine? Or are we looking at our performance as strategic partners?

It’s time for a look in the mirror.

As talent acquisition professionals, we’re still way behind in taking responsibility for our own performance. Maybe it’s because we are so much like sales, but in recruiting and talent acquisition we talk a good game.  Take quality of hire—in a 2013 study, Hudson RPO found that over 80% of companies care about quality of hire, but only 32% are actually measuring for this.

And that doesn’t necessarily account for recruiter performance either. The same study asked respondents why they measured quality of hire and “recruiter performance” wasn’t even an option!

CEB’s recruiter performance study is a key indicator that we need to do something.  We’re not connecting recruiter performance to quality of hire and hiring managers continue to have lukewarm or worse evaluations: only 35% were satisfied or very satisfied with recruiter performance.

Sure, there are numerous factors at play (including the performance of the hiring manager) but if we’re not measuring recruiter performance how can we even say we’re effective?

Metrics like cost and source of hire or time to fill aren’t about performance.

They provide insight into the process but they rely on huge assumptions like: ‘fast is better’ or ‘candidates find jobs through a single source.’  We need to care more about the impact of the recruiter on the hire, their fit and their retention.

Last week I was working with a fantastic sourcer—one of the best in the business. We talked about a particular brand needing sourcing support and what it would take to be effective. For this particular consumer-facing brand, the brand immersion was key. To really source the right people, talent acquisition professionals working on the engagement had to have a deep understanding of the brand elements, the consumer, the brand strategy, the employer brand and the strategic plan for growth.

The sourcer remarked that this was as deep as she’d ever gone on a brand before—and—how helpful it was.  And that’s because it’s usually about the process and operation.

Why don’t we shift from recruiters as operators to strategic partners? 

I have written before about recruiting as a supply chain. Inputs, outputs, process and timing. It’s like we’re manufacturing widgets and all we care about is payment for total units completed.  The human in human resources is vanishing here. We should be stepping up to the plate to say:

“Hey! I can be a better partner to you if you’ll stop looking at this process like an assembly line!”

Organizations also have to care more about the why in the process. Instead of focusing so heavily on meeting time to fill metrics, how about asking why a specific time frame even matters and correlating that to new hire performance?  Or whether requisition volume increases to save money are actually doing so in the long term?

As recruiters, we seem resigned to focus on the process and the little things in the process: the tools we have, the technology we use and the annoying habits of candidates.

One of the top IT recruiting agencies around has said that it is time we stop with the tired and true and take a risk on the future: correlating longer term retention and quality with recruiter performance instead of congratulating recruiters for meeting monthly time to fill goals. When we’re incented for longer-term impact, we’re able to spend more time on brand and culture fit, candidate experience and quality.

I’d bet my company strategy on long-term performance over short-term wins any day. How about you?

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