Why Recruiting Needs a Continuous Improvement Model

Why Recruiting Needs a Continuous Improvement Model

Emily Smykal

continuous improvement recruitingGood news: simply getting started may be the greatest challenge talent acquisition leaders face when applying data to their work. With a little effort, foundations can be laid for what should be measured and how you’re going to get the data. But once the practice of gathering data and reviewing metrics has been established, recruiters can’t sit back and relax. Truly proactive recruitment strategies are continuously improving.

Now this might sound like a lot to bear. Effectively incorporating data and analytics into your talent acquisition strategy takes time and resources, not to mention the adoption of some new technology. In addition, recruiters must choose which metrics are important to them–which ones to track and analyze? Over what periods of time? On top of it all, this information must be presented to senior management in a useful and informative way.

But without a standardized data set that is constantly monitored and improved upon, recruiters miss the opportunity to drive improvements within their company over time. The most forward-thinking talent acquisition strategies incorporate a continuous improvement model for the way performance is not just measured, but managed and optimized.

Breaking Down Continuous Improvement

The model of continuous improvement originally applied to the management of a product or process at a business. Referred to colloquially as “plan-do-check-act” or PDCA, it is a relatively simple cycle in theory. Plan or establish your process, implement that plan, review the actual results, and then adapt accordingly based on the results.

Much like the scientific method, if this PDCA model is implemented and repeated, more knowledge is attained and a more perfect system is developed with each iteration.

But some steps in a continuous improvement model are easier said than done. Teams might struggle with implementation, the “do” step, hampered by tight budgets or outdated technology. Others might not review results in the most effective way. Analysis paralysis can take hold when you over-analyze data and strive for a perfect solution on the first try.

A continuous improvement model, treating PDCA as a cycle that is always repeating and moving forward, can provide a steady rate of refinement for any process if implemented in a disciplined way.

Laying the Foundation for Continuous Improvement

A talent acquisition team that doesn’t already measure aspects of performance can start building a continuous improvement model by identifying some key metrics to track. Application completion rates and average application duration can provide insight into how efficient your application track is from start to finish.

Other metrics like time to fill and retention rates can highlight gaps in the system, and allow recruiters to not only make improvements to the hiring process, but also identify problem areas in their strategy and within different departments.

Once a system to track and report back on crucial recruiting metrics is in place, talent acquisition leaders can use the continuous improvement model to be more proactive. Let’s say you have a PDCA model that includes sourcing channels and quality of hire metrics. If an employee leaves and a vacancy arises, you could review the data pertaining to the acquisition of that employee in the first place.

How did they hear about the job? How long did the employee stay? Based on the results, you could make changes to the job responsibilities or the types of candidates you hire for that position, in order to attract a better quality hire for that role—one more likely to stay for the long term. Recruiters should keep in mind internal and external processes, and existing employee engagement, when developing a continuous improvement model.

Driving Continuous Improvement Over Time

Once you get past the hurdle of incorporating data into your recruiting strategy, and your team shifts from reactive to proactive, your continuous improvement model needs to be just that–continuous. A supportive and engaged culture will go a long way here. The talent acquisition team must understand the importance of repeatedly reviewing results, and act on them persistently. At the same time, senior leadership should understand the key metrics being analyzed, and also take an interest in the results.

And if the continuous improvement model is going to work, the processes recruiters use need to be the right ones. The steps leading from applying to interviewing, and getting an offer all need to be monitored, as they impact key metrics like time to hire and even quality of hire.

Finally, having the right technology might be the most important step in building a continuous improvement model. Automated data collection, analysis tools that are simple to use, and reports that are easy to read are all necessary to monitoring and refining the process. After all, you can’t put that data to good use until you’ve started to collect it in a meaningful way.

To learn more about recruiting metrics, and the role of analytics in helping talent acquisition leaders make better decisions, read our whitepaper, Analytics in Talent Acquisition: The Hype, the Reality, and the Future.

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