Article originally posted on Forbes.com

It’s a tough time for recruiters.

For over a year now, the Department of Labor has reported more open jobs than unemployed workers every month. It’s harder than ever to find qualified talent, and recruiters are feeling the squeeze. According to Monster’s 2018 State of Recruiting Survey, 62% of recruiters said their job was more difficult than it was a year ago, while 67% said it was more difficult than it was five years ago.

In short, there is zero room for error when it comes to recruiting. If we’re going to land top talent in this ultra-competitive market, we need to make sure we have a foolproof recruiting plan. Unfortunately, too many organizations lose the talent war before they even start recruiting. They measure the wrong metrics, and as a result, they get the wrong results.

You Get What You Measure

Have you ever heard the adage “You get what you measure”? It may be a bit of a cliché, but it’s a good point. The adage certainly holds true for the recruiting industry.

All too many recruiting teams measure the wrong metrics, which inevitably leads them to the wrong results. Consider some of the most commonly used KPI metrics in the world of recruiting:

Dials per day: This metric has almost no relevance on how many hires we make or the quality of our hires. It encourages recruiters to make a lot of short, thoughtless calls and completely disregards the quality or significance of those calls. In fact, it discourages recruiters from spending time with candidates on the phone to carefully vet them and build relationships. While you’re spending time with a single candidate, another recruiter can make several short, pointless calls and bring better KPIs to their boss.

Number of submittals: This is another metric that is largely unrelated to the quality or quantity of hires. As recruiters, shouldn’t we submit a small number of high-quality candidates rather than a laundry list of anyone who might be qualified? The former leads to higher-quality hires and saves the hiring manager a lot of time and effort. However, this KPI incentivizes recruiters to send a lot of submittals rather than focus on quality.

Time to hire: This is an important metric, but it shouldn’t always be the most important metric. In some cases, a fast hire is the most important thing. However, most companies would much prefer to prioritize quality over speed. Good recruiters make both happen, but recognize that quality always takes precedence.

In short, it’s not hard to see how these metrics lead us astray. So why are recruiters still using these metrics? And why is it any mystery when they lead to lackluster results?

Metrics That Foster Better Recruiting Practices And Better Hires

The best recruiting metrics focus on quality hires and a close alignment with the hiring manager’s needs. Here are some of the metrics that I use at my own recruiting company:

Retention rate: How many of a recruiter’s candidates stay with the company for 90 days? What about six months or a year? Ultimately, recruiters add value to a company when they help make a hire that lasts for the long haul. If a candidate leaves after a short time, everyone loses. Furthermore, it means that candidate probably wasn’t a good fit in the first place. It’s a recruiter’s job to help screen out candidates who won’t last.

Submittal-to-interview rate: For every candidate the recruiter submits, how many does the hiring manager interview? This number should be about 80-90%. If the hiring manager is not interviewing many of the submitted candidates, that’s a clear sign of a disconnect between them and the recruiter. It’s the recruiter’s job to carefully work with the hiring manager to determine what they want and need out of a new hire. With this information, they should have no problem finding candidates that the hiring manager will want to interview.

Interview-to-hire rate: For every one of the recruiter’s candidates who interviews, how many eventually get hired? Much like the last metric, this zeroes in on whether the recruiter is submitting quality candidates who meet the hiring manager’s unique needs.

Recruiters should be more than glorified talent scouts. It’s about much more than simply finding talent. Recruiters need to act as talent consultants for their clients (or internal hiring managers). They should help the hiring manager clarify what they need out of a position and then carefully analyze candidates to find the professionals best suited for the role.

Different Metrics For Different Priorities

The first metrics we talked about are all about volume and speed. They push recruiters to rush the process and generate long lists of candidates to hand over to the hiring manager. In contrast, the latter set of metrics focuses on deliberately picking a shortlist of candidates who we’re confident will excel in the role.

When it comes to our making hires, most of us will prioritize quality over quantity. If you work in talent acquisition, you should ask yourself if you agree — and then consider what priorities are reflected in your KPI metrics.