Want to Know How a Recruiter is *Really* Performing? Check These Metrics


Unlike many other white collar jobs, pretty much every single aspect of recruiters’ performances can be broken down into a metric. For recruiters doing a great job, this means it’s easy to see how great of a job they are doing and receive positive performance reviews for that hard work; for struggling recruiters…well, you can’t hide from numbers.

Though metrics, data and numbers will never lie, there are some that are more important than others when it comes down to the real truth of how well a recruiter is performing.

Some of the most popular recruitment metrics include:

  • Time to hire
  • Quality of hire
  • Retention
  • Cost per hire
  • Applicants per hire

While each of these does have a time and place to be considered, I would argue that only two of the five can show you how a recruiter is really performing.

What do I mean by ‚Äúreally‚Äù performing? Well, if you take a look at the list above, there are some that give crystal clear views of recruiters‚Äô performances, and some that can get muddled by extenuating factors outside of the recruiter‚Äôs control. To see which ones reflect the pure performance of a recruiter, let‚Äôs first examine which metrics very often can be affected by external circumstances:

Time to Hire

Recruiters are motivated to work fast—after all, that commission check comes in faster the quicker they work. However, there are some reqs where no matter how fast the recruiter works, there are some things they can’t completely account for. Most of the time, this metric is going to get thrown off by candidates. There’s not much a recruiter can do if a candidate is dragging their feet, particularly if that candidate is a perfect fit.

Cost Per Hire

Cost per hire can be considered in two ways: 1) Time is money and a recruiter spending more time working on a req means more endgame money is spent on a req. As observed above however, timing isn’t always within a recruiter’s power, and therefore the cost of that time wouldn’t be either. 2) More along the lines of direct spending, some reqs are going to be tougher than others, and recruiters might need to spend more money on promoting a job posting for one job than they might for another to find a more niche set of candidates. Either way you slice it, cost per hire isn’t always controllable.

Applicants Per Hire

Sure, there are things recruiters can do to make more applicants want to apply for their job (see: all of our advice on writing job descriptions), and there’s ways that recruiters can post about their jobs more and pull more candidates in, but the fact of the matter is, some jobs are going to get more applicants than others, and a recruiter can only force the hand of a perfect passive candidate so hard.

Of course, there are ways to adjust metrics per the type of job a recruiter is hiring for, but overall there is no set way to adjust for external factors outside of the recruiter’s control when it comes to applying their metrics to their performance.

Except for two…

Retention & Quality of Hire

Ultimately, a recruiter is trying to get the best person for the job, and these are the two metrics that solely focus on if the recruiter did that job. If the recruiter found the best person, they should be a quality hire and they should be a long tenured employee.

These are the long term metrics though—the ones that you have to wait a while on and see the feedback of, but they are the most important. If your recruiter is hitting the first three metrics at the best levels possible, but their candidates-turned-hires lack in these two metrics, what’s the point? Even if you weigh the first three metrics to take into account all of the obstacles a recruiter might hit, if these two metrics are not met, the recruiter is simply not doing a good job.

It’s easy to look at a recruiter’s numbers for three outlined above, and they have their place in a performance review, but to know a recruiter is doing a truly wonderful job the two you should heavily focus on are retention and quality of hire.

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