Recruitment Strategies: Making Leaps Forward With Benchmark Data

Recruitment Strategies: Making Leaps Forward With Benchmark Data

Mike Roberts

recruiting benchmark dataBetween Bersin by Deloitte, CareerXroads, Brandon Hall Group, and a number of other analyst and research firms, there’s lots of benchmark data for the recruiting field. Whether you’re managing talent acquisition at a startup or a Fortune 500 company, benchmark data is crucial to understanding your own performance and determining what needs to be done to move the needle.

Although many companies have access to a wealth of performance management information, there seems to be a challenge with effectively putting it into action. In many cases the potential of benchmark data falls by the wayside, simply because recruiting managers don’t know how to leverage it. Or worse—they don’t think there’s value in it.

Benchmark data is the cornerstone of continuous improvement, and it absolutely must have a part in all recruitment strategies. In this post, we’ll discuss exactly what internal and external recruiting benchmark data is, how to use it, the challenges associated with it, and where it can be found.

What is Recruiting Benchmark Data?

Benchmark data is defined as “information collected from industry sources to determine how other firms (especially leading ones) achieve their high levels of performance.” This is an interesting definition, because it goes beyond the idea that benchmark data is simply aggregated information—there’s a very specific purpose for it.

Typically, benchmark data is the result of surveys taken by professionals with particular functions or roles from their respective industries. Surveys can be broad, covering topics such as “Best Practices in Recruiting,” or they can be more focused around specific topics like “Analytics Use in Recruiting.” Either way, the idea is to make consumable otherwise disparate information.

Once the information has been collected, firms will often analyze and share statistically relevant results. Variables measured typically relate to quality, time, and money and can focus on resource categories such as people, processes, and technology.

Looking at just one single variable of the data can be powerful. For instance, it’s helpful to know which job board Fortune 500 companies use the most. However, cross-analyzing multiple data points simultaneously packs a much harder punch. For example, by looking at both job board use and quality of hire, we may be able to deduce which job board delivers the best employees.

Aside from industry analysis, benchmarking can also be an internal exercise. You could aggregate and compare your own performance between departments or business units.

How to Use Benchmark Data in Recruiting

While most recruiting organizations have a performance management program, not as many are incorporating benchmark data into it. Using this information can be most helpful in two main areas: better understanding current performance and setting goals for the future.

If you don’t have an understanding of how you relate to industry averages and what market-leading performance is, then it’s hard to know where you stand and how to make a plan to close the gap. Many companies use benchmark data in this way. It tells you whether or not you’re moving in the right direction. Rather than just blindly making decisions, you’re using data-backed analysis to do so.

In addition to gap analyses, benchmark data is also important for building a business case for something like a talent acquisition software investment or the need for additional recruiting resources. Cross-analyzing software adoption with a particular performance metric is a good way to project an ROI on whichever case you’re trying to make.

Aggregated Talent Acquisition Data Can Have Its Drawbacks

One of the main things to watch out for, though, is a lack of standardization and its impact on data. If you’re benchmarking internally, and you work for a large, distributed company with multiple business units, there may be many different methods for calculating a performance metric.

For instance, one set of recruiters may measure the starting point for time-to-fill as when a requisition was first posted online, whereas others may use a starting point of when a hiring manager first made the request.

Differences in calculation can harm the integrity of the data, and this extends to external benchmarking as well. If there are many different measurements being used for the same metric, then the results have less meaning. Fortunately, analyst firms will often take care to overcome this challenge. But it is certainly something to take note of while reading through a report.

Benchmarking Recruiting Performance

If you’re not using benchmark data—internal, external, or both—then you’re missing out on a valuable source of information. Continuous improvement is defined as the ability to endlessly build on current performance, and using data comparatively is imperative for identifying those incremental areas for improvement.

For reference, here’s a short list of a few industry firms and companies that provide benchmark data:

  • Brandon Hall Group
  • ERE
  • Bersin By Deloitte
  • Gartner
  • Forrester
  • CareerXroads
  • HCI
  • The Hackett Group
  • Human Resources Benchmarking Association
  • SHRM
  • Aberdeen Group
  • Ventana Research
  • LinkedIn
  • Glassdoor
  • CareerBuilder

Last year, we put together a benchmark data report, our 2014 Talent Acquisition Survey.

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