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BadConsultant declares a vested interest in the subject of this post, yet will post anyway in the hope of generating thought and discussion.

We just went browsing for the umpteenth time in the past few weeks for blogs, articles, ezines, etc. on recruitment effectiveness. And, after a little while found we were grinding our teeth.

Here’s the problem.

Efficiency = doing something well (usually against cost, quality and time measures)

Effectiveness = doing the right thing to make the impact you want to make (usually against outcome measures)

Efficiency and Effectiveness are NOT the same thing, simply because it’s possible to do the wrong thing really, really well.

People who post about recruitment effectiveness

[you… yes, you… stand STILL laddie!]

please read that sentence above again. And again.

And again.

If I have to read one more post anywhere purporting that the following metrics measure recruitment effectiveness, I will officially scream blue murder:

  • Cost per hire
  • Time to hire
  • Offer – Fill ratio
  • Voluntary turnover of new hires in year 1
  • Promotion rates in year 1
  • Performance rating in year 1

Let’s take a look at these:

Cost per hire, Time to hire and Offer-Fill ratio

These are fine and dandy as efficiency metrics, although I would argue that they are always subjective based upon the talent pool – it might take longer and cost more to hire a neurosurgeon than a pond cleaner, after all.

The problem with these metrics from an effectiveness standpoint is that they are not markers of impact. Let’s paint a short, sweet scenario.

I have a job to fill. I wander to the area in town with the highest unemployment rate, grab someone and offer them the job, starting the very next day. Voila! $0 cost-per-hire, 1 day to hire and 100% acceptance. You know the punchline. So I won’t bother repeating it. The metrics don’t guarantee effective recruitment.

Voluntary turnover in year 1

Given the sheer number of people who work in a culture of resentment, the idea that everyone leaves a job as soon as it becomes a problem is laughable. The idea that the only people on board with a company are those who are fully capable of, and delivering, performance. It’s delusional!

Put simply, using voluntary turnover in year 1 to measure recruitment effectiveness is like assessing how great a surgeon is by the number of deaths in his/her operating theatre. It’s the crisis scenario.

Performance rating and Promotion rating in year 1

Grrrrrr… Ask most, if not all, new starters what they were told at their first performance review and pretty uniformly you’ll hear some version of:

“… you’ve had a very good year, but no-one gets an above expectation in their first year”

Like it or not, most corporate performance management approaches and systems steadfastly maintain a culture of averageness and the idea that objective differentiation a) exists; and b) will be systematically visible in the first year is

[excuse us… hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaahahaha]

laughable. In essence, this is the opposite of the Voluntary turnover metric – it’s the walks-on-water scenario.

Don’t even get us started on promotion in the first year…

[so you’re a great recruiter because the person you hired was capable of much more than the job in hand – that’s not effective recruiting, it’s padding a position with an over-qualified candidate]

The BadConsultant Bottom Line

Yet, even with all of the above, it’s remarkable how widely these metrics – this mixture of subjective, inaccurate efficiency measurement and bipolar aftermath monitoring – are offered up as recruitment effectiveness.

We’re not going to retread old ground

[unless you’re willing to pay us, in which case, we’ll gladly open our knowledge management database and re-package existing work]

about what recruitment effectiveness means – and we’ve already posted today about how bridges the gap between recruitment and performance outcomes, so we won’t over-egg that particular pudding

[even though we openly declared our vested interest]

All we will ask is that purveyors of recruitment effectiveness literature listen to themselves and think about what they’re touting – recruiters deserve better and, now more than ever, businesses need the most effective decisions on who to bring on board – the single-most important decision in the human capital chain.

Rant over,


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