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Leveraging Recruiting Performance Data to Give Executives What They Want

Setting expectations with executives as well as leveraging data to make revenue-impacting recruiting decisions were key underpinnings of Emily Meekins’ recent presentation at the HR Virtual Summit.  

Meekins, who describes herself as a strategist living in the world of people operations, is Sr People Operations Lead for Seer Interactive, a 165-person digital marketing agency headquartered in Philadelphia, PA, with an second office in San Diego, and remote team stretched across the USA.

During her half-hour presentation, Meekins packed a punch describing the how and why for leveraging recruiting performance data “to give both executives and the recruiting team what they want.” Seer, whose work leveraging big data to help their clients get found online, breathes the same data-backed strategy into their people operations work.

How to Address a Business’ Peaks and Valleys

One of the challenges a recruiting team faces is addressing the peaks and valleys of business.

  • What will the recruiting team do to keep busy when their demands are slow, such as many recruiting functions experienced amid the initial pandemic shutdowns earlier in 2020?
  • And conversely, how will their limited team make things happen when demands surge? 
  • What’s the value of keeping a recruiting team when you don’t know when business will stabilize?
  • How will you run faster, when things speed up and you can hardly keep pace with the requisitions in the pipeline?

According to Meekins, feeling confident in how you are bringing value to the business is key to answering these questions. To unearth the data for these answers, Seer uses Bamboo’s HRIS and Lever’s ATS, mashing data from both sources.

How to Map Out Recruiting Speed Using Historical Data

By leveraging historical data on roles they’ve filled—data they pull from Lever—Seer drills down into details such as the number of candidates they must add to nurture campaigns and how many interviews will help them get to a hire.

They then get even more granular. 

For example, Seer identifies the number of days, candidates and interviews it takes to get to a hire, which as Meekins describes, “gives us more information to map out a sprint. If you have bandwidth, you may be able to shrink (the time), so, if we are under-capacity, we can say, ‘here’s how we can speed up time to get volume of candidates up.’”

Building a capacity model will help your recruiting organization answer how capacity impacts time to fill. For example, if you are under capacity, you may be able to pull back the time to fill; conversely, if you are over capacity and stretched, unable to effectively carry all the requisitions you are owning, a 30-day time to fill might increase to 45 or 60 days, explains Meekins. 

The Components of a Capacity Model

An effective capacity model enables your company to get ahead of hiring needs by tapping into the rhythms of your business year-to-year, using historical data to look at your past hiring trends.

This includes leveraging the cost-of-vacancy model; i.e., it may cost more if you hire during a peak vs. hiring a month in advance, suggests Meekins, who describes how Seer pulls in data from Bamboo, answering questions such as, “when do we see spikes in leaving?” From there, they strategize hiring and proactively building a pipeline, so that when the first quarter comes, they already have a bench of people.

The historical tracking model was in response to the impact on Seer’s recruiters and business stakeholders when recruiters were carrying too much. The model illustrates “here’s what happens where there is less, and when there is more. New business depends on it, and retention depends on it,” asserts Meekins. If they can’t meet hiring needs, then revenue, by way of new business, will be turned away. Moreover, this adds stress to the recruiting team that can convert to greater churn.

And, whatever the scenario–whether your business is dependent upon clients or you are focusing on scaling or becoming more efficient–revenue is being impacted. This furthers the importance of bringing stakeholders along the capacity model journey. 

Why You Should Manage Up and Align Stakeholders

This means collaborating alongside executives and business development via bi-weekly team meetings. Meekins said it begins with recruiting managing up, ensuring “everyone is super aligned when everyone will be hiring.” For Seer, this enables business development to manage expectations with incoming clients as to the time needed after sign-on to properly staff up their project.

And while managing up is important, it’s equally imperative to deliver the metrics and revenue that executives want. Take ownership and deliver on promises, so that execs can trust whatever you bring to them. This all comes together when you meet with your executives and business stakeholders regularly practice transparency—all, through a lens of what is important to them.

Meekins described this as providing information on how the current recruiting situation is impacting revenue or talent retention; for example, are you bringing on business you can’t deliver (in the case of not being able to fill positions quickly enough)?

You can overcome this issue using data, particularly when an executive leader pushes back on a candidate’s salary requirements, thereby slowing time to hire. With data, you can answer the question, ‘how much revenue are we turning away if we don’t make this hire?’ Or, ‘how many employees are we losing by not hiring a team member to help alleviate the workload?’ 

How Seer Uses Their Data-Rich Recruiting Dashboard

Seer uses a data-rich recruiting dashboard during their biweekly stakeholder meetings, to navigate a live snapshot of their pipeline, says Meekins, including such items as who’s in there and how they are pacing with time-to-fill vs. the capacity model. What does capacity look like on the team and what they have seen historically?

Setting expectations with the team is enabled by looking at dashboard items such as active candidates; e.g., number of requisitions open, number of candidates in each stage, candidate by requisition (which ones have full pipelines; and which ones have a low pipeline). They further identify requisitions by priority and work with executives to determine how they are stacked from a volume standpoint, articulating where they are feeling confident and where they are not.

The conversation continues, comparing priorities from prior weeks to the present and reprioritizing as needed.

“Having all these people in the same room also allows us to get on the same page as to what is on recruiting’s plate,” says Meekins. “It’s really easy when you are working with stakeholders for them to want their role filled first. But, we are an organization, and all these pieces work together, and it allows us to stand in front of whoever is our stakeholder (for a particular role or roles) and ask, ‘Is this role more important than this role?’, and then let them duke it out. We don’t have the answers. As much as we try to stay close to the business, they are really closer to how this is impacting their teams.”

In describing how they build their recruiting function’s capacity model, Meekins said they start with a Y axis (frequency of hire) and X axis (uniqueness of hire), and then show time to fill (on average) by role level; capacity points are revealed in brackets. This model enables Seer to tally up these numbers and calculate what a recruiter can carry; i.e., four manager roles or a blend of manager and associate or one leadership role, etc. They then map this capacity to their active requisitions.

“We also count for divisional breadth,” says Meekins. “So, if you are supporting all of these roles for one division, that’s a whole lot easier than supporting one role for five different divisions; in fact, it’s so much more difficult that we are adding capacity points. If you are owning manager and associate roles within one division, you are able to run up and down that division; you don’t have to totally change your frame of mind. You’re not changing your language, you’re not speaking with different types of candidates; you’re working with the same stakeholder; it’s easier.”

“When you are stretching across different divisions, you have to learn about different parts of the business. You work with different stakeholders; you’re working with developers one second and creatives the next, and then going into digital marketing. It’s challenging, and that should be accounted for within this model as well,” continues Meekins.

Moreover, while quantitative data is important in determining capacity, Meekins explains how the qualitative aspect also is factored into decision-making, describing qualitative as “the feeling of being underwater and the feeling of being okay.” By marrying the quantitative and qualitative together, you get the whole picture.

Bottom lining the dashboard results, Meekins shows that when they are within their capacity range, their time to fill is zero weeks, and they are able to hit their numbers.

The Capacity Model: Essential for Business

While this capacity model is not going to be transferable to every single organization, Meekins encourages organizations to look at your data and drill in to figure out what  data you need to defend your business case. What data do you need to stand before your executive team and give them enough confidence to advocate for your team?

The capacity model is really important to protect your team’s capacity as well as your future revenue. It’s essential for your business. It also will buttress your case when you advocate for investing in new tools, a contractor or a full-time recruitment hire.

A capacity model, and the data to support the model, is important to enable the business development team to set expectations for clients coming in the door; to enable divisional leaders to make smarter decisions within their teams; and to make a better case for candidates and hiring decisions when you understand the revenue impacts.

Meekins cautions recruiters not to lose sight of the forest for the trees, explaining how it is easy to be “go-go-go,” and to get overwhelmed by working with what’s right in front of you. By zooming out and thinking about what else you can do to acquire team support, and by employing a capacity model, you can avoid recruiter burnout and unmet stakeholder expectations.

By underpinning your conversations with regularly scheduled, strategic conversations, you can succeed in a fast-change business environment.  You can see the big picture versus just running toward what’s in front of you.

Lever Analytics layer flexible reporting and analytical tools on top of cleanly structured Lever recruiting data, enabling talent teams to continually assess and improve their recruiting processes. Contact Lever for a demo to see how you can elevate your hire plan to the next level with core reports and highly visual dashboards to take your data-driven recruiting strategy to the next level.