Metrics matter: data integrity and reliability in the world of talent recruitment

By Courtney Jones

Measurement is what makes marketing a science, rather than a superstition. We live in an ever-evolving world, and the fast-paced staffing industry is no different. Advances in technology have made harnessing the power of data even easier, but what do metrics really mean and how do we qualify them? If a company measures the wrong metrics, it’s very likely to end up directing the wrong behaviours within their teams.  It’s important to look at your data and figure out where you’re going to get better results for your decided course of action.

There are many interesting metrics that can be analyzed within your data but they may not all lead to more placements, gross margin or tangible benefits.  But if you can find those few nuggets that can increase your time to hire, hit ratio or enhance any of your conversion ratios, you’re definitely finding money making opportunities.


Data hygiene

OK, making decisions from false data leads to bad decisions... So what do we do? Well, if faulty data is even a small problem in your organization, this should represent a clear call-to-action for you. It means that you need to be scrubbing your data more carefully.


Throw out the numbers that don't make sense - even when at a glance they make you look good! Like us, you've probably noticed that you routinely encounter all kinds of invalid cases in your metrics that can skew them for better or worse. While it may be tempting to publish numbers that reflect an unseasonably high close ratio on your part, the conclusions drawn from them won't be any more valid. At best, you'd be setting a client up for an unrealistic expectation and at worst-- you'd be lying.

It's always better to throw your own numbers out the window, rather than run the risk of having a numbers-savvy client (or potential lead) throw them out for you.


Communicating metrics

You want to ensure that the value of your metrics is effectively communicated and not just blindly accepted internally. Broker an understanding of their true meaning for team members of every level within the company. If you want your metrics to encourage the right kind of decision-making, you’ll need to achieve buy-in from these people. Talk about the real trends hidden in the numbers and not just the numbers themselves.

Finally, keep your numbers as straightforward and non-convoluted as possible. Use visuals if these help to convey your meaning. Then share your insights and make them accessible to team members and stakeholders.


Small data

In a data-driven environment, decision-making must be a top-down push. If an understanding of your metrics' value doesn't reach the uppermost echelons of your organization, the numbers are unlikely to create any real positive traction. Staffing companies do not compete in the “Big Data” space, but they should focus on small to mid-size data instead, since this is where we see small numbers having the greatest impact. In this regard, the integrity of your small data becomes a surprisingly powerful factor in effective decision-making.


Final thoughts

The bottom line is that we all make decisions from flawed data, regardless of our size or levels of expertise found within our organizations. The point is to use this flawed data and any related missteps to get better at our craft. We simply need to be committed to moving beyond that in order to properly evaluate our people, our clients and the ways that we do business. When we do this, we uncover shorter avenues to providing better and more accurate work, while strengthening our own business (and that of our clients) at the same time.



About the Author

Wendy Kennah is the director of recruiting for Procom Consultants Group in Toronto, Canada. In her role, she has overall leadership and accountability for the strategic direction, development and growth of Procom's recruitment practices and policies. Procom specializes in the Information Technology contingent contract and permanent staffing industry. Previously, Wendy was the vice president of recruiting for Brainhunter, Inc and was responsible for the national recruitment strategy in Canada.


by Courtney Jones

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