Re-Engineering Recruiting: Tips for Assessing and Improving your Talent Acquisition Function

By Linda Brenner | February 06, 2023

In our work as talent acquisition process improvement consultants, we are asked two questions more often than any other:

1 - What are the best recruiting metrics to track?

2 - How many reqs should our recruiters be carrying?

This article will address the first of the two questions; you can find our perspectives on the second question here, which includes a link to our Recruiter Req Load Calculator.

In the way of context, let’s cover a few critical points first:

What are the best TA metrics to track?

It's a fair question because, in the world of TA, there are nearly limitless metrics that can be tracked. Candidate throughput, time to fill, total vacancy time, hiring manager effectiveness, cost per hire, branding effectiveness, passive candidate pipeline health, SLA success, process compliance, diversity, source effectiveness, quality of hire, selection and assessment quality . . . the list goes on and on. Narrowing the focus down to the few most essential outcomes is worthy of careful consideration. Ultimately, the decision involves trade-offs associated with process design, TA investments, technology, data quality, stakeholder priorities, etc.

What’s the point? Why are talent acquisition metrics important?

Talent acquisition analytics and reporting efforts should indicate the most important outcomes an organization is seeking and should lead to continuous improvement efforts in those areas. If you’re tracking say, ‘time to fill’, and there is no analysis of the results, no disciplined attempt at recruiting process improvement, no accountability for improving, and no real consequences for the results, then you might want to stop reading. And stop spending time assembling and distributing those reports.

If however, the objective is to improve results over time, then read on . . .

Who's accountable for tracking talent acquisition metrics?

Often, Talent Acquisition leaders do not support the tracking of some hiring-related metrics because they feel that TA “shouldn’t be held accountable for it.” Examples include quality of hire, time to fill, candidate experience, onboarding effectiveness, etc. Without a doubt, TA should not be held exclusively responsible for these outcomes. However, neglecting to track such results relinquishes any hopes of assessing, much less improving them. After all, if the only metrics business leaders tracked were those for which they were entirely able to influence - no business results would ever be tallied.

TA metrics require us to separate the discussion between ‘accountability’ and ‘insights’. Before there can be any meaningful ‘accountability’, we have to understand the current state, the goals for improvement and, ultimately, who owns each piece of the process improvement effort. For example, the ‘time to fill’ standard for calculation is from requisition approved through offer acceptance. Yet only focusing on that ignores the very real vacancy time that takes place before and after that 'time to fill’ period: after an employee leaves but before the req is approved, and after the offer is accepted but before the new hire starts / is trained. This is not to suggest that TA “owns’ that entire life cycle, but in our book, TA is responsible for assessing the components of (what we call) Total Vacancy Time and driving process improvement opportunities across them all.

Do talent acquisition metrics depend on the types of jobs being filled?

You wouldn’t track the same metrics across all job descriptions. High volume, entry-level hourly roles must be filled quickly since vacancies usually result in lost revenue, higher costs, or both. A “C” player in a cashier or stock worker is better than no one in the role at all. On the other hand, mission-critical professional roles (e.g., data analytics, software developer, etc.) must be filled with top talent so that the organization’s strategic priorities for their work can be realized. In a world of limited resources, within which HR functions, trade-offs have to be made between speed, cost and quality.


With that in mind, let's address the question: what are the best recruiting metrics to track?  They fall into two primary categories: efficiency and effectiveness.

Efficiency Metrics

  • Time to fill (using the standard definition from req approved through offer accepted)
  • Reqs per recruiter per month (carried / filled)
  • Process compliance
  • Selection throughput
  • Cost per hire (using the industry standard methodology)

Effectiveness Metrics

  • Quality of hire (retention and performance over time for key hires)
  • Passive candidate pipeline health (for critical roles only)
  • Source effectiveness (how the candidate learned about the company / role - not how they applied for the position)

Credibility for Talent Acquisition teams -  and, in turn, the ability to influence behavior in their stakeholders - must begin with efficiency metrics. If a recruiting team is unable to, at any time, show how many reqs are in process, what stage they’re in, how many reqs recruiters have filled, etc. - then they simply and realistically don’t have “permission” to talk about effectiveness of the hires being made.

So, as with a lot of questions, the answer is “it depends.” Your company’s hiring priorities, the maturity of the talent acquisition function, and the most important areas to improve are key to answer the question: What are the best ways to assess our Talent Acquisition function?
You may also want to read SWOT Analysis in Recruitment and Selection.  And Contact Us to learn more about our Talent Acquisition Audit.

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