Lou Adler on Recruiting Metrics

"METRICS" Tag Cloud Globe (statistics data graphical analysis)Lou Adler is a veteran recruiter, author of books about recruiting and hiring, originator of Performance-based HiringSM, and CEO and founder of the Adler Group. He’s been in the recruiting industry for 30 years, and knows better than most what matters in recruiting. He is a strong advocate of recruiting metrics, especially quality of hire.

One of Adler’s favorite recruiting topics is quality of hire, and he has a lot to say about it. Traditional recruiting metrics measure basics like time to hire and recruiting costs, but Adler claims that the importance of using recruiting metrics depends on a company’s business recruiting goals, strategic plans, and resources. Not all recruiting metrics apply to every recruiting initiative, but quality of hire metrics apply to most.

There are many ways to develop recruiting metrics for specific purposes. Different types of recruiting metrics apply to different analytical needs, such as historic metrics that review previous performance to establish baselines and measure performance differences, real-time recruiting metrics to analyze recent quarterly or monthly recruiting data, and predictive metrics that are future focused and enable planning on possible outcomes. But Adler says the most effective recruiting metrics are predictive and actionable, generate benchmarks to analyze performance, and use information relevant to business strategy. He recommends using these factors in pre-hire quality of hire recruiting metrics for hiring success.

Measuring Quality of Hire

Adler explains that although figuring out when and how to measure quality of hire can be difficult, it’s an important way to tell how effective your recruiting process is. Hiring top candidates is the way to improve your workforce and you won’t know if this is happening without quality of hire metrics. And he is a strong proponent of measuring quality of hire at the beginning of the recruiting process, not after a hire is made, when he believes it’s too late. Adler’s emphasis on quality of hire metrics is mirrored in Staffing.orgs Recruitment Metrics and Performance Benchmark Report, which shows a strong relationship between measuring new hire quality and manager satisfaction with the hiring process.

He promotes measuring the candidates against well-defined quality of hire metrics instead of measuring quality of hire after the candidate is hired and working. Data for quality of hire metrics normally comes from performance appraisals and productivity measures at 6 and 12 months after the hire. Adler turns it around and prefers to use information about top performing existing employees to measure candidates against for a better fit with the job and work environment before hire. He advises measuring quality of hire using input from hiring managers about how their best employees work and what their characteristics are, as well as information from those employees’ performance evaluations and production reports, to filter candidates and applicants. He believes this creates a more focused candidate pool that is matched to the required experience, qualifications, and culture.

How to Define Quality of Hire

To use the quality of hire metric at the beginning of the recruiting process instead of at the end requires defining quality of hire. Although you might have a written definition of quality of hire for your business, Adler proposes that the definition of quality of hire is “the measure of how well a new person meets the performance needs of the job.” He uses this to directly correlate candidate quality with job requirements and top performers already working for the company. For example, in a sales organization that has minimum sales levels of $150,000 per month, the quality of hire metric will include demonstrated performance levels of $150,000 in sales per month for at least two consecutive years, and excludes those without this experience.

This more closely matches the right candidates with the business needs and definitions of top performers and establishes the definition of a quality hire before the recruiting begins. Doing it this way depends a good deal on the quality of the job description, which should precisely describe not only essential functions of the position, but ideal employee qualities and an accurate depiction of the work environment. Expected outcomes for the employee in the position also play an important factor in defining quality of hire. A sales position that is required to book $500,000 per month minimum sales requires candidates that have demonstrated selling at this level, and the recruiter and hiring manager should know this at the beginning of the recruiting process, not six months into the new employee’s performance evaluation.

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Why Measure Quality of Hire at the Beginning

Evaluating the quality of the hire through hiring manager surveys and performance evaluations after the candidate is hired and working is common practice, but Adler believes that waiting to evaluate quality of hire until the person is hired is too late, and it’s a mistake to wait until the person is on the job and working to try to measure the quality of the process that put them there. He compares it to measuring product quality after the product has been sold to customers and they are using it.

Adler says “if you don’t build quality in at the beginning of the recruiting process, you’ll never get it at the end.” When you’re competing for top candidates, you can’t afford to wait until after the hire or even after you’ve interviewed a candidate to figure out that they are not right for the company or the job. You need a way to measure the quality of your process at the beginning and that requires good job descriptions and good input from hiring managers about top performers to use during sourcing, interviews, and the job offer.

Adler’s 10-Factor Talent Scorecard

Take a few pointers from Lou Adler and his 10-Factor Talent Scorecard. He recommends getting input from hiring managers and top performers before recruiting for a new opening to develop a job profile and establish performance objectives to use during candidate interviews. After the interview, he creates a talent scorecard that establishes factors for on-the-job success, including skills, competencies, motivation, and behaviors to evaluate the candidate for job match.

This allows recruiters to compare the candidate’s demonstrated past accomplishments with job requirements. Factors include motivation to do the work, managerial fit, environment and culture fit, team skills working with comparable groups, and technical competency, all related to real job needs, and all applicable to pre and post hire quality.

Recruiting metrics tied to business strategy and operations are the fastest way to improve your workforce and get a solid return on investment from recruiting expenses. Adler calls this a performance-based approach to quality-of-hire recruiting metrics, and he believes that this has the advantage of meeting key hiring needs in a way that’s easy to implement and track – essential factors in effective recruiting processes.


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