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Reporting or Recruiting Processes – Which Comes First?

As a consultant, I am often asked this question in my recruiting strategy and employer brand work: How do you prioritize where to direct your company resources and which should be first, developing dashboards and reporting or recruiting strategy and processes?

The short answer is recruiting processes, hands down. It’s difficult to put one before the other, since your recruiting strategy is deeply connected to your recruiting metrics. However, you need to prioritize and get those quick wins (like filling your funnel three days faster for the short term, using technology partners like Talroo). In order to understand things like source of hire, if your vendor partners are living up to expectations, time to fill, and making sense of your career site traffic in order to build out and/or prioritize those processes, you need reporting. Otherwise, you are driving not just without a map, but also blindfolded. While you must prioritize one or the other, being able to develop and scale recruiting processes also depends on recruiting metrics.

In the long term, processes are great because they create a flow, shorten timelines, and help keep your candidate and recruiting experience consistent for everyone. However, we need to understand where we came from and establish a starting point, baseline or benchmark, which is where reporting comes in. It helps us understand, communicate and measure where we’ve been, what success looks like and where we are going.

You can split the risk, even with limited bandwidth, once you identify the basics.

Your Top Priority for Recruiting Processes

The five overarching stages of recruiting are planning, strategy development, search, screening, and evaluation/control. The first four can be developed in a vacuum, but as you reach the evaluation and control stage, data is an imperative.

Looking at the big picture, you can identify areas for improvement in recruitment planning and strategy development with an eye on productivity and implied success (as opposed to applied success data). Where you post your jobs, which programs are draining your resources, and what might be missing from your strategy. For search and screening, you can make some modifications to streamline both with recruiting technology. In fact, many HR teams are not taking full advantage of existing technology, like automations, already available in an ATS. Minimal effort to set up basic automation technology for candidate response, application status, welcome emails, and personalization via email or text.

The fifth step, evaluation and control typically feeds the first four. It’s the difference between “guessing” and “knowing.” Most HR leaders have an idea of what needs improvement in steps one to four, but without data we cannot isolate exactly where or by how much. Given that recruiting teams run on data, making decisions about candidate outreach, engagement, screening, and other high-touch tasks requires reporting and metrics, even if you only focus on the bare minimum.

Your Top Priority for Reporting

You need, at the minimum: Basic dashboard and reporting, Google analytics to understand traffic on your career site, source of hire reports from your ATS or CRM and other performance reporting from technology partners. As I mentioned above, many recruiting teams are not using all of the available features in existing recruiting technology. Most modern ATS platforms have dashboards and reporting functionality, but we must take the time to set those dashboards up in order to see the high-level metrics that help us do our jobs.

End-to-end recruiting metrics are great to have, but they’re not your first must-have. Carrying your reporting through the entire candidate experience to onboarding and employee engagement is the gold standard, but we have to start somewhere if what we’re doing now isn’t lining up with key performance indicators. Use the reporting functionality in your ATS to set up the most basic dashboards for source of hire, time to fill, cost per hire, and applicant to hire ratio. There are others you’ll want to set up later, like quality of hire, candidate satisfaction, engagement, and so on. But your first KPIs should be the ones that your recruiting strategy depends on.

Google Analytics provides you and your talent acquisition team web-specific activity data. And like your ATS, setting up dashboard reports in GA is an up-front time investment that gives you a look into applicant (user) behavior on your career site, for your ad campaigns, and conversion rates.

Standards and benchmarks for recruiting metrics to help you understand where you are and what goals and stretch goals look like. If 120 days is your time to fill metric right now but the industry standard is 67, this tells me and your team that it’s time to dig in deeper. Where are candidates coming from, what bottlenecks exist, or is the problem the recruiting funnel and getting qualified candidates to your open opportunities? As you are able to identify the areas where your recruiting processes are under-performing, you can simultaneously modify those processes (and add new ones) to improve your top recruiting metrics.