By Lei Tong

Setting the right recruiting strategy can be a real challenge. For example, senior executives at a leading professional services firm needed answers about a decline in the number of new job applicants, particularly for hard-to-fill science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) roles critical to the firm’s growth. Similarly, a major medical center saw that some critical patient service roles were not being filled fast enough to meet demand. The risk to their mission was escalating.

Like many other organizations, four recruiting pain points were undermining their strategies:

  1. Competition for Talent—The symptoms of this challenge include not being able to attract the right applicants or expand the labor pool; an employment brand eroded by social media and other market factors; an undifferentiated employee value proposition; and one-size-fits-all sourcing strategies that don’t distinguish critical opens from those that are less crucial.
  2. Process Execution—Advertising through existing channels may be attracting the wrong candidates, thus undermining recruiter productivity. Assessments commonly are used ineffectively for key roles. Drawn-out recruitment processes prompt qualified candidates to drop out.
  3. Recruiting Performance—Underperforming recruiters may be hiding in plain sight. Recruiters do the same job differently, with mixed results. Screening at the early stages is often not focused on the key characteristics of the position, particularly when recruiters are unsure about how to address new types of roles.
  4. Diagnostics and Reporting—“Days to fill” and offer acceptance rates are lagging that add little value. Without data and insights from a quantifiable fact base, diagnosing the root cause of problems is difficult. Often, there are no ROI measures for recruiting campaigns. Without an ability to identify changes in talent market competition, employers can be left behind.

If your company is familiar with these pain points, you may be suffering any number of consequences. Key roles remain open for too long and overall talent quality declines. Non-value-added activities waste recruiter time. Candidates aren’t effectively screened. You may be left to play catch-up, as top talent is lost to competing organizations. And ultimately, your reputation as an employer suffers.

Fortunately, it is possible to diagnose and address these problems by leveraging the recruiting data you probably already have. The key? A combination of analytical rigor and a focus on practicality and value.

Competition for Talent. For example, the search for the best candidates in specific markets can be improved by determining which competitors are the best source of high performers. Past employment history is already in most companies’ enterprise data. It is also possible to efficiently find new talent by analyzing your employees’ LinkedIn network of connections (with their permission, of course). Finding potential candidates that are already connected to your employees gives recruiters a tremendous advantage.

Process Execution. To improve the execution of recruiting processes, we have aggregated data across recruiters to assess performance for specific, hard-to-fill roles. This analysis can determine if variances are the result of individual recruiter performance or problems with broader systems and processes, and help management make the right decisions to improve results. In other cases we have used analytics to measure candidate loss rates at each phase of the recruiting funnel and how those rates are changing over time. Identifying where candidates are lost can pinpoint opportunities for improvement.

Recruiting Performance. You can improve talent quality and time-to-fill by evaluating the recruiting team’s performance. For example, try evaluating individual recruiters across metrics such as applications handled; screens and interiews conducted; offers; acceptances and retention rate hires. When we have helped clients with this in the past, we uncovered opportunities to help recruiters improve their individual performance as well as systemic issues.

Diagnostic and Reporting. Finally, building the right reporting and diagnostic infrastructure can increase transparency and quickly highlight opportunities for improvement. The most valuable systems satisfy the information needs of a variety of stakeholders—the hiring manager seeking the right talent at the right time, at the right price; individual recruiters, and the CHRO with overall recruiting responsibility.

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