HR and Recruiting: How to Measure Success

Hiring, interviewing, training. Firing, managing internal conflict and demoting. Rolling out new benefit plans, completing legal and compliance paperwork and writing job descriptions. Those are just a small sample of the type of duties and responsibilities that today’s human resources professional takes on each and every day.

A very, very small sample at that. What one HR professional does at a large IT company may be completely different than what another HR professional does at a small printing company.

The same can be said for the various recruiting roles out there. There are corporate recruiters, executive recruiters, industry-specific recruiters, headhunters and so on.

So how do various roles in various size organizations measure success in HR or recruiting? There are many variables, says Laura Mazzullo, President of East Side Staffing, a New York City specialized staffing firm focused on the placement of HR professionals in the New York City Area.

“Success in recruitment is measured differently than success in HR,” says Mazzullo. “Often HR is concerned with retention. Recruitment is not retention. It’s about attracting candidates to leave the place where they are also probably being heavily retained.”

Farhan Farooqui?, President and CEO of Southlake, Texas-based HR MILIEU, an HR consulting firm that provides customizable HR consulting services to fit specific business needs, says it’s important to understand HR’s role before determining what equals success. Farooqui asks these questions:

  • How is HR viewed within the company?
  • Is it a true partner of the business?
  • How well do HR professionals within a company know the business and its changing needs?
  • Is HR a trusted advisor or just a clerical function or at best a set of people to keep the company safe from people threats (keeping the company out of court)?

The questions to ask that are important here are:

  • How do the senior most manager/leader of the company see/view HR?
  • When he/she speaks about key decisions, does this leader include the fact that he/she consulted with HR partners?

In other words, does the key leader understand the real role an HR professional can play?

“It’s like a restaurant,” says Farooqui. “If you don’t know the capabilities of the chef, then you can’t get the best out of the chef. It’s critical that the presence and partnership of HR is taken from top down. Also, it’s important that companies wok with internal or external partners who can think strategically. Unfortunately, small companies cannot afford seasoned HR professionals, hence hire lesser experienced HR generalists who can only do the day-to-day HR, but are unable to act as trusted advisors.”

This is where the services of a company like Farooqui’s come into play – they work with the business owners and leaders in providing that one-time or ongoing advice and partnership which helps a business leader/owner make the right choices.

How do recruiters measure success?

Recruiters have production targets. Recruiting is seen in many places as a reactionary HR role. Meaning – I will call you when I need to fill or back fill a job. In true sense of recruiting a recruiter shall be working as a consultant to the business working within the limits of his/her metrics. Typically, companies measure the following, says Farooqui:

1. Time/cost to fill (REAL cost per hire): If a recruiter fills four jobs a month and makes 60k/year, the flat cost to fill is $5,000 (monthly pay). That is $1,250 a position.

2. Understanding the business needs: Recently, the consultative role of a recruiter is important so the recruiters may be proactive in knowing the need of the business and plan ahead than being called when a position opens or someone resigns.

3. Candidate experience: Says Farooqui: “In my experience this is often missed by companies, but must be paid  attention to. At HR Milieu we pay extreme attention to the candidate/applicant experience.”

Meaning, how do the ones that were not hired feel about the process? It’s not just about the top or the selected candidate but how easy the application proves was? How long did it take? How easily was the recruiter available? Were the candidates kept informed throughout the process? If the hiring manager took longer for some reason, how did the recruiter keep the candidates “warm” so they don’t drop out?

“Candidate experience will drive future applications from the ones not selected and a good reputation in the market,” says Farooqui.

Successful recruiters often have a strong amount of emotional intelligence, says Mazzullo. The job requires an enormous amount of perception and communication, both written and verbal. The key is to ensure all parties are involved with recruiting – from the receptionist to the last interviewer on the final round. All parties can engage in ‘selling’ a candidate on an opportunity. The best recruiters ensure they are putting the candidate experience first and foremost and make them feel incredibly valued and desired.

Internal recruiters often measure success by evaluating ‘time to fill – the amount of time between a job opening and the time the candidate starts is a key indicator on the efficiency of a project, says Mazzullo.

If a job is open longer than 1-2 months, there are issues. For example, salary expectations are different from that of the candidates’ or perhaps managers haven’t clearly identified their ideal skill set and keep interviewing down the wrong path.

“Spending some quality time at the front of the process to evaluate ideal fill-date, ideal candidate and generous budget all help to ensure the role is filled fast,” says Mazzullo.

Similar to real estate which says homes should be ‘priced to sell’, jobs are often priced so low that managers have a difficult time identifying their ideal talent.

“The best internal recruiters can push-back on their CFO and finance team to ensure budgets are raised as needed to match the demand in the market,” says Mazzullo. “This may be the key to success of most internal recruiters.”

Success is a numbers game for a contract recruiter, says Farooqui.  It’s all about the fees for the recruiter against the number of roles filled. It also boils down to self discipline as the small employer may be willing to pay per fill.

“I am a firm believer that recruiting is just like sales,” says Farooqui. “It uses the funnel approach. You get so many applicants – then so many qualified applicants. Out of the candidates you screen and present a few to the hiring manager. The hiring manager chooses a few out of that population. Then the interviewing process reduces the number even more and finally you are down to a couple with maximum three or four finalists that may do the job equally well. A contract recruiter must study company culture very well in order to provide candidates and new hires that may fit well.”

Recruiters are gatekeepers and are the face of the company, Farooqui. Hire the best possible you can afford or hand the job to an external firm that knows how to handle it well.

“Treat your recruiters no different than your sales people as they set or spoil the company image,” says Farooqui. “If they believe in the company, they will be able to sell it better to the key talent that is being poked by you and your competition.”

How is the success of an HR staff or recruiters related to a small businesses success? Farooqui explains:

An organization’s running and success depends on the people that it hires and retains, he says.

“Recruiting or Staffing partners play an integral role in finding the next best worker/associate/executive,” says Farooqui.

Even though many small companies feel that recruiting is a reactive function, it must in fact pay huge attention on this role as this is the gatekeeper and also someone who speaks to the candidates in the market (in person or via social media vehicles) and sets your company’s reputation in the way this recruiter handles talent in the market. This role may turn people off from applying to your company for future roles.

So pay attention to who you partner with for your hiring and who you hire as your recruiter, be it in-house or be it an external recruiter or a firm.

“Smart company managers are now allowing their recruiters time to spend with in-house marketing department to understand how to market the company while hiring people,” says Farooqui. “Remember, it’s your reputation – manage it well through your recruiting partners.”

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Matt Krumrie is a career columnist and professional resume writer who has been providing helpful information and resources for job seekers and employers for 15+ years. Learn more about Krumrie via, connect with him on LinkedIn ( and follow him on Twitter via @MattKrumrie.

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