The Playbook for Data-Driven Recruiting

At Lever’s second annual Talent Innovation Summit, Jennifer Paxton, PHR, Director of Talent at LevelUp, unveiled her data-driven recruiting playbook. With a master’s degree in Opera, her background doesn’t exactly scream ‘data-driven.’ However, after several years in talent acquisition, she’s learned the enormous benefits of getting comfortable with data in order to make informed recruiting decisions. Read her tips below, then look through her slides from our Summit and watch her video at the very bottom of the post. 

Determine the most important metrics

Pinpoint the most important metrics to you and your shareholders, and focus on the data that will help you make more informed decisions, cut costs, and improve efficiency. Jennifer focuses on metrics related to candidate experience, quality of hire, and speed.

To measure candidate experience, she has found that focusing on career site traffic and source of hire can be great metrics. She wants to make sure she’s focusing on the sources that generate the most qualified candidates. She also likes to look at each stage of the recruiting funnel to ensure they don’t lose a candidate because they are slow with the recruiting process.

To help assess quality of hire, Jennifer lets interview feedback be her guide. Other things she’s focusing on are the quality and amount of referrals, and how effective job descriptions are.

When she wants to focus on speed or efficiency, she tracks time to hire and cost per hire. Like source of hire, this helps her invest money in the most cost effective sources, and not waste time on sources that do not produce hires. She also takes into account her offer acceptance rate, which is around 80 percent at LevelUp.

Collect the data

Once you know which data is valuable to you, Jennifer suggests you create a process to collect that data. You want to make sure that your team has a standard process for inputting it, which avoids duplicates, minimizes manual entry, and keeps data clean. She suggests designating one person on your team to own the process and perform the analysis. This doesn’t mean that the whole team isn’t being data-driven, it just keeps the process simple.

Jennifer discussed how important it is to use the right technology and tools to inform your recruiting decisions. She says there are technologies out there that will help you be quicker, but there are also ones out that that will be a total time suck. It’s a noisy space and you really just need a couple of fundamentals. She uses Lever to get hiring and funnel metrics, Google Analytics, Linkedin Analytics, and Excel. She adds, however, that all of this is dependent upon your individual team’s needs, so you need to make your own assessments of what will work for you.

Depending on the size of your company and resources available, you should determine the frequency of benchmarking. Jennifer has found that monthly or quarterly benchmarking is best for allowing her team to course-correct and optimize throughout the year. You need to be able to look at the data up close, then zoom out to see the bigger picture.

With so many possible things to measure, sit down with your hiring managers and executives to learn which metrics are the most valuable to them. That way, you can build tailored reports for each audience. A hiring manager may be interested in source of hire, whereas an executive may want to concentrate more on cost per hire than source of hire. Jennifer edits her reports to give executives a high-level overview of sources, while giving hiring managers a more detailed report.

Optimize your recruitment program

When you have the basics down, you can start to identify areas for improvement, make adjustments to your recruiting funnel, and create a framework for continuous improvement. Candidates are becoming increasingly picky, so your recruitment process needs to be streamlined to keep up.

To optimize her recruiting process, Jennifer has three tips:

  1. Establish a healthy pipeline: It’s crucial to understand your recruitment funnel metrics at each stage of your process. Knowing how many people you need to screen and bring onsite helps you set sourcing goals and allocate resources. Let’s say you need to make 10 hires, and know that you need to interact with 80 prospects to make a single hire. You may determine that it makes sense to bring on a technical recruiter and strategically use agency recruiters in order to meet your company’s growth goals. If you aren’t tracking this data, you might not know that you’re under water until it’s too late.
  2. Find bottlenecks in the process: Look at your entire recruiting funnel, starting with applicants. How are you getting applications? Jennifer uses Google Analytics to track how many careersite pageviews convert to applications. She also looks at how qualified their applicants are, based on how many phone screens convert to onsites, and how many onsites convert to offers. This analysis helps identify bottlenecks, so she can focus on the stage that needs the most attention.
  3. Do a post-mortem: After a role has been filled, or when it’s been open for 30 days, Jennifer will reflect on what worked with the recruitment process and what did not work. She says the post-mortems have been invaluable to help her streamline other roles, and to help fill the role faster next time. For instance, she’s learned how to A/B test job titles in Lever and re-write job descriptions to attract more candidates. This actually allowed them to increase inbound applicants by 15 percent. 


Jennifer ended her presentation with a quote from Benjamin Franklin, “Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.” Being a data-driven recruiter or driving a data-driven recruiting strategy should start today. It is about using data to become more strategic and forward-thinking. She suggests you start small by focusing on things are high value and low effort, and scale as your organization grows. By using data to inform your recruiting decisions, you can drastically improve your company’s overall recruiting results.

Don’t forget to read through Jennifer’s slides and watch her session below!