I’m leading the revolt – death to traditional recruiting metrics!

If there is one thing I have learned about trying to get people to read content it’s that you really need to hook them in the beginning. With that in mind… excuse the dramatic lead in. I have previously talked about how your recruiting process is outdated and wasting money. Now I am coming for your metrics.

I can’t tell you how often I hear, “hey what is the industry average time to fill for cleared positions?” My answer: “Who cares?” Seriously, I don’t care what the industry average is because that metric tells me nothing, literally nothing. It is a metric that gets thrown around the board room to cast blame at recruiting and make us feel like we have some sort of data around our team that shows we know what we are doing. Even worse, I have seen that metric used to project forward and predict likelihood or ability to staff proposals or pending awards. Yikes!

A real recruiting metric

Let’s talk about a much better metric that will drive business in the GovCon space. But first, let’s consider why you’re asking the question in the first place. If you are asking about time to fill, you are probably thinking about revenue, or how long until I get someone in this seat billing? You have established there is a financial impact. Revenue that is once gone, will never be recognized again, literally throwing money away. I would ask the question: How long is it acceptable for that seat to be vacant? Or more directly, how much money are you willing to lose?

I recently had a conversation with Jerome Ternynck, CEO of SmartRecruiters, and he talks about Hiring Velocity, or how often the hiring team makes hires by the date the candidate is needed. An easy way to look at this is if I need 10 people by October 1st, how many did I hire by that date? This is a great metric for GovCon, and you can read all about it in his new book “Hiring Success.”  This is not exactly where I am going.

I had a recent strategy session where I compared my business to others in the industry and how that really sends me down a negative wormhole.

“How did they grow that quick when we have been business the same amount of time?”

“How did they hire that person?”

“How did they win that contract?”

Well there are probably a whole lot of factors I know nothing about, like private investment, key hires, or pre-existing teaming relationships that made it possible for my competitors to achieve certain things, so the comparison is arbitrary. I should focus on what I want to do for our company, and what are our targets.

This is why I hate “industry standard time to fill”. If I tell you 45 days is the industry standard time to fill, is that acceptable? Is it acceptable that all of your positions stay open that long? Will this move the needle forward for your team?


Then what is acceptable?

What is optimal?

How about 10 days?

Work backwards from your desired time to fill. This is why I love the idea of hiring velocity from my conversation with Jerome. If you need people within x amount of days on average, how are you going to achieve it, operationalize it, and track it? This is the magic metric – Time in Workflow.

I LOVE time in workflow! Time in workflow not only allows you to work backwards from your end goal, it ties everyone in your hiring process together and begins to uncover how healthy your process is or isn’t. Here is an example of what this looks like:

  • Position Need Identified: 6/29
  • Intake Meeting Complete: 7/2
  • Requisitioned Opened: 7/3
  • Candidate submitted: 7/10
  • Interview requested: 7/15
  • Interview scheduled:7/22
  • Interview complete: 7/30
  • Offer requested: 8/7
  • Offer extended: 8/10
  • Offer signed: 8/11
  • Candidates first day: 8/31

In the above example it took 20 days from the time the candidate was submitted until the time an interview was complete, and then another 11 days to get the offer out. 31 days of your time to fill wrapped up in scheduling. This could be because of many reasons, some within your company’s control, and some outside of your control. The point is to look at all stages of your workflow (you may have many more stages in your company’s process)  and set expectations for time to complete. If we want a 10-day time to fill, how does the team need to act? What do we need to be aware of? How much time between each stage is acceptable to meet our goal of needing a candidate by X date? Are all of the stages in your process necessary? Can some happen concurrently?

Using the above example, If you uncovered your time to fill was 43 days, but 30 of those days were tied up in scheduling, how would you change your process? Would you say you had a recruiting problem?

I would say you have an interviewing problem.

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Tom Weinert is a DOD/Intel Talent Acquisition advisor and Founder of Mount Indie, a firm based in San Diego focused on helping small to large DOD contractors reinvent their TA strategy to compete in today’s market. With over a decade of experience in DOD program management and recruiting, Tom brings fresh ideas to the space focusing on out of the box sourcing, process improvement and strategic guidance in the cleared market.