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Opinion: Don’t take recruitment measurement lightly

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Unlike practically every other business discipline, recruitment all too often escapes stringent performance measurement, despite its potentially huge impact on corporate success. And with so much riding on each new employee, companies are risking throwing good money after bad by not finding a way to make sure their recruitment decisions are working for them; Norrie Johnston, Managing Director of Executives Online reports.



A recent in depth analysis of the trends and issues driving the UK executive recruitment market revealed the extent of the deficiency in recruitment measurement and showed that most organisations are not testing the performance of recruitment in a very scientific way, if indeed they are testing it at all.

Almost 10% of companies have no formal measurement of whether their recruitment is successful and nearly half (46%) are using rather arbitrary methods which completely fail to address the real issues.

It seems that for many, recruitment measurement starts and stops with the initial responses to advertisements and the CV’s generated. Nineteen per cent are measuring the quality of the candidates coming forward, 17% the number of applicants and 10% speed of process, none of which gives any indication whatsoever of whether the successful candidate meets objectives and performs for the organisation, the real and crucial test of recruitment.

Only a minority (27%) are measuring what matters – the quality of candidates hired – to determine whether their recruitment process is delivering.

The vast majority of companies automatically ensure they have complex processes in place to tightly evaluate and monitor the achievement of sales, marketing, IT and R&D functions, for instance, and there are plenty of tools and consultants out there to help them. Given the relatively large budgets involved, it is therefore astounding that so very little attention is paid to measuring recruitment.

Figures show that it typically costs a company £30,000 to hire a senior executive. And this figure doesn’t take into account the costs – in terms of wasted salary payments and loss of profits due to underperformance – if an executive fails to deliver.

Companies wouldn’t dream of ploughing thousands into an advertising campaign and then not bothering to check just how effective it has been. Nor would they award a bonus to a sales manager without carrying out any assessment of their performance, or invest funds in researching, developing and launching a new product without some kind of research to gauge the market. Yet in effect this is exactly what many are doing with recruitment.

It’s possible to draw two conclusions from this sorry state of affairs. Either recruitment is considered too nebulous to measure, or there is a general apathy in the market. Yet companies are missing a trick by taking recruitment lightly. Each executive recruitment decision can have a tremendous impact, presenting great opportunities if the selection process is successful and the new employee brings in fresh ideas, drive and innovation, or huge potential problems if they don’t work out.

Companies cannot afford painful recruitment mistakes and must ensure they have not compromised a key position by recruiting a candidate who is failing to deliver. They need to be absolutely certain they have the right senior manager or director for the job.

Many clearly do not. According to figures recently released by Investors in People, three quarters of UK bosses (75%) and almost 80% of their staff (79%) believe that ‘deadwood’ – employees who consistently under-perform – is an issue of concern to their organisation. The last thing a company should be doing is introducing new under-performers through unmonitored recruitment.

In advising companies how to address the problems of deadwood, Investors in People tell companies to make sure they don’t neglect their recruitment process, pointing out that getting the right person for the job sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how many companies fail to give enough consideration to the type of applicant they need.

There can be little doubt that measurement of recruitment makes sound business sense and should become an integral element of good practice. It can also be relatively simple.

It’s focus that is needed from the start, as soon as job descriptions are drafted, CV’s submitted and candidates invited for interview. Forget the four-page job description; instead focus on key tasks and deliverables. It’s then a simple case of monitoring the successful candidate’s progress with follow-up reviews three months and six months into their new position to measure success by ensuring those tasks and objectives are being met.

It is widely acknowledged that people are an organisations greatest asset; a business can stand or fall on the strength of its staff’s performance. Much is made of investment in people in terms of learning and development and motivation and companies should start guarding that investment by ensuring they are investing in the right people right from the very start.

View further documents from Executives Online in our dedicated document library.


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Annie Hayes

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