Recruiter KPIs. From Crap to Credible.

Re-inventing KPIs for the modern recruiter.

Mostly, recruiters hate KPIs.

Often, relentless focus on KPIs does more harm than good.

Routinely, Managers drive old-school KPIs because they are bereft of any new ideas to increase productivity, and sad to say, the less success delivered by the old tactics, the more the manager pushes the KPI!

It’s a destructive cycle of pain and futility.

But, KPIs are intrinsically good. In recruitment we must do a certain volume of activity. And you cannot manage what you don’t measure.

I believe totally in clarity around activity goals. 35 years in this business has taught me that at least.

But the many factors that ensure long-term recruiter success are changing, as the market changes.

In contrast however, KPIs have not changed one bit in 25 years

There are many smart things a manager needs to do to ensure KPIs really work, including getting recruiter buy-in to the goals, managing them as a dashboard for success, and changing them up as the needs vary.

But also, we need to actually change what we measure as well

I have spoken before about chucking out your crappy old KPIs, but here are some fresh thoughts about reinventing how you evaluate recruiter activity. For this to make sense you have to believe that it’s key for recruiters to build personal brand (as I do), that social selling is more powerful than relentless untargeted cold-calling (as I do), and that digital relationship building is the forerunner to opening doors to business relationships in real life (as I do).

Don’t rush to consign all your old performance measures to the garbage. Many activities we have always measured need to be measured still. But open your mind to new deliverables, and they fall into three broad areas;


Here we measure the recruiter on building an audience and a community. This is key to modern recruiting because old-school sourcing techniques, like Job-Boards and LinkedIn are becoming less effective, fast. So too with old-school business development techniques like unsophisticated, untargeted tele-selling; So, measure growth in targeted LinkedIn connections, (LinkedIn for me is more about branding than it is about sourcing), blog subscribers or blogs published on the company blog or on LinkedIn, job-alert subscribers, Twitter followers, and social connections: Set KPIs around ‘following’ goals per week (eg Twitter) and total connections achieved by a certain date (a growth target)


This is all about measuring engagement as a KPI: Building an audience and a community is step one, but engaging with and building relationships with that audience is the next phase. Well-run recruitment businesses have always measured, ‘keeping in touch with current candidates’. I remember organising candidate phone-nights to reconnect with candidates 25 years ago at Recruitment Solutions. But now the measure is engagement with future candidates. It’s tapping into the ‘talent community’ you are building via ‘catchment, and starting the ‘seduction’ process on social, via email, over coffee, on Twitter, on LinkedIn. So you are connected on Twitter to the Digital Director of a big-target company? Good, that goes against your KPI for ‘catchment’. But now the next ‘activity’ is to engage. Retweet her material. Comment on her blog. Start a meaningful conversation. Maybe it’s commenting on a target prospects status update on LinkedIn. I know, its alien. Is it really work? You bet it is! And it’s smarter work than making cold calls to her voice mail, which she never returns, and only serves to irritate and alienate. There is much you can do to engage and converse. We need to measure it to manage it. Set KPIs around a number target for engagement activity.


This is where to magic happens. Where all the ‘catchment’ and ‘conversation’ is converted into a real live ‘candidate’ or ‘client’. So this is the measure of a person not originally looking for a job that was connected to on social via ‘catchment’, secured via digital ‘conversation’, who has now been ‘converted’ into a fully active candidate, prepared to listen to live opportunities and be managed through the job-search process. Or it’s a potential client, unknown to us, and without any prior relationship, who is reeled in via digital, and who accepts a client visit or places an order (You have to decide how you define a ‘conversion’ as far as a hiring manager goes). I speak about new style KPIs such as SCR and UC here. Set weekly or monthly goals. Measure the GP that eventuates from these ‘conversions’.

Let me be blunt. I love KPIs. I don’t think you can be a successful recruiter over the long term without them. But how KPIs are managed has needed to change for a long time. Now the actual activities and outcomes we measure need to change too

Be brave. Resist the temptation to collapse back to what you have always done. Disrupt your business from the inside.

Modern KPIs is a smart start


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About Greg Savage

Over a career spanning thirty years, Greg Savage has established himself as a global recruitment leader. Greg is a regular keynote speaker at staffing and recruitment conferences around the world.

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2 Responses to Re-inventing KPIs for the modern recruiter.

  1. The Devil Corp June 30, 2016 at 2:51 pm #

    Good post.

  2. David Byrnes July 1, 2016 at 1:03 pm #

    Greg, excellent points. Sales success is all about ‘activity, activity, activity’ and yes it must be measured as part of a meaningful KPI program. The business world is facing a technological tsunami and all enterprises must work technology and social media to remain relevant & succesful. If not, then be prepared to be consigned to the dust bin. Whilst there is still value in old established recruitment methodologies the world is changing as never before and recruiters simply must embrace social media via the technology available to us today. Twitter is incredibly powerful and LinkedIn still has great reach if utilised properly. There are many more technology based avenues besides, and the first step is to recognise that people are doing their personal computing and connection activity on the run via these marvellous portable devices called smart phones and tablets, and are on line all the time, all seeking valuable information, new connections and electronic recognition and validation. Including me! Cheers.

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