Setting and Managing Recruitment Standards Within Your Agency

If you’re a third-party recruiting agency, then having recruitment standards for your employees, including your search consultants, is important.

After all, without standards, how can you measure performance well? It’s definitely more difficult. But first and foremost, what are recruitment standards?

What are recruitment standards?

For our purposes and the purposes of third-party recruiting agencies and owners, recruitment standards are those standards by which recruiters and search consultants are measured. They include a number of different metrics and ratios, of all which are used to determine a recruiter’s or search consultant’s performance.

One of the important things to remember is that recruitment standards should be objective and not subjective. That way, they are more accurate in terms of what they measure and evaluate. Calling somebody a “good recruiter” is one thing. It’s another to call somebody a “good recruiter” and then validate that statement with cold, hard facts and data.

However, the topic of recruitment standards is an expansive one, especially in terms of first setting those standards and then managing them. To help us with this discussion, we’re going to draw upon the wisdom Terry Petra, one of the recruiting industry’s leading trainers and business consultants. Petra has extensive experience as a producer, manager, and trainer in all areas of professional search, including retainer, contingency, and contract, as well as clerical/office support and temporary.

According to Petra, there are many terms used by managers to describe the recruiting industry. However, as with most adjectives, these terms are subjective and can mean different things to different people. That is where performance standards come into the picture.

Remember: Realistic performance standards require objectivity!

Realistic performance standards provide both management and employees with a critically important measuring tool. Without this tool, managers cannot effectively direct and support the efforts of their employees and the employees cannot effectively manage their time and resources. However, the real challenge is knowing how to establish and properly utilize realistic performance standards.

Recruitment standards for quality

Performance standards should be established for both activity and results, and in both instances should include criteria for quality, i.e., quality of the call, quality of the assignment, quality of the client, quality of the candidate, etc. The quality criteria are necessary to prevent the “numbers for numbers sake” phenomenon from developing.

Once the recruitment standards are established, they serve a variety of purposes:

  • They allow you to present a more accurate picture of the position during the hiring process and demonstrate to the candidate the requirements for remaining part of the team. This can be a selling point in attracting top performers.
  • They allow your employees to monitor themselves. With standards in place, they should always know where they stand, both quantitatively and qualitatively. The advantages of objective self-measurement are evident.
  • Properly utilized, they bring a level of objectivity to the management function and facilitate the decision making process. They allow you and your employees to evaluate both effort and effectiveness.
  • By properly utilizing realistic performance standards, you eliminate mutual mystification, increase your staff’s effectiveness, identify areas for further skills development, better manage your time and overall decrease the stress level normally associated with the management function.

Recruitment standards for newer employees

With newer employees, standards tend to focus primarily on the activity that is necessary in order to achieve a specific result (production). These standards are established by taking a historical look at the initial activity levels of your successful people. Obviously, this requires good record keeping.

Determine from your records the key identifiable ratios. With some adjustment, these same ratios apply to temp/contract. However, with temp/contract you also have to factor in response time, gross margins, billable hours, length of the assignments and skills required on the job.

Standards and ratios

Below are some permanent placement ratios that firm owners can track in their recruiting software for newer employees:

  • Marketing calls attempted versus marketing calls completed
  • Marketing calls completed versus job order/assignments received
  • Job order / assignments received versus job order/assignments filled
  • Candidate update calls completed versus candidates actually updated
  • Recruiting calls completed versus recruits actually brought in
  • Candidates presented to employers versus candidates receiving a first interview
  • Reference checks completed versus job order/assignments received
  • Length of average interview versus the average for your successful people
  • Average amount of daily phone time versus the average for your successful people

Whether you monitor them or not, activity ratios exist for every aspect of your recruiting business, therefore, you can only benefit from knowing and using them. However, without including criteria for quality, the usefulness of these ratios is limited.

Monitor these activities, gather statistics and establish realistic performance standards based on a historical view of your business and ratios. With newer companies, you may wish to rely on industry averages for you specialty area. In addition, you must consider the skills development timeline.

Remember, the standards were established from an analysis of the activity ratios of your successful people, during their first year on the job. As the person’s skills improve, their ratios should compress.

Realistic performance standards for recruiters

Once the employee has established himself or herself through consistently producing results at or above your company standard, new objective tools should be created by which performance can be measured. These new tools are the individual’s objectives and goals. The objectives define the necessary activity (ratios) while the goals definite the desired results (production). Together, they serve as realistic performance standards.

Ultimately, you should establish realistic performance standards at three levels.

Level One: Minimum performance standards for new employees with less than one year in the business.

Level Two: Minimum performance standards for experienced employees with more than one year in the business.

Level Three: Individual performance standards for experienced employees based on your mutually agreed upon objectives and goals.

The overall objective is to build your organization to the point where your management focus is on goal achievement. This is a self-directed environment in which the employees are motivated to achieve and are measured against their individual objectives and goals. This is the point at which, you as a manager, have proven your true effectiveness. However, all of this is meaningless unless you require strict adherence to these performance standards.

Beware the “exception trap”

Always remember that the true measure of performance is results. On rare occasions, you may have an employee who consistently achieves superior results without meeting the activity standards for your group. However, these people are exceptions.

Do not allow yourself to expect superior results for employees who are not meeting or surpassing the activity standards. You can delude yourself into thinking they may be that rare exception. This is the “exception trap.”

Manage your group through the use of realistic performance standards and not by exception. Performance standards bring objectivity to your management function and serve as a roadmap to success for your employees.

Top Echelon’s Training Library

Top Echelon offers a free monthly webinar as part of its Recruiter Coaching Series. After the webinars are over, we post the recorded version of the webinars in our Recruiter Training Library. These webinars touch upon a variety of recruiter-related topics. These topics deal with both candidates and clients. As always, our goal with these webinars (and corresponding videos) is to help recruiters make more placements.

In addition to training and webinars, Top Echelon offers other recruitment solutions. These solutions include the following:

For more information about Top Echelon and the products and services that it offers, visit the Top Echelon website by clicking here.

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