The talent acquisition space is changing. The rise of machine learning and automation has led to some radical shifts in the hiring process, and it’s also fundamentally changed how we measure success. Here, we talk to Referoo Director Chris Hunter about how focusing on key talent acquisition metrics can drive technology decisions and improve hiring outcomes.
According to Hunter, talent acquisition is at a crossroads. “Right now, we are seeing the intersection of candidate-short markets and the rapid acceleration of technology. This means organisations have some critical decisions they need to make in the tech space. The right investments will set them on a course for the digital transformation, but it’s not always easy to navigate in a crowded space,” he says.
He points out that the best way to start the journey is to understand what you want to measure and why it matters.
“TA professionals have access to more data than ever; almost anything can be measured. And it is tempting to look at every possible data point because it’s available. But with so much data, the message can get lost in the noise.”
Measuring the efficacy of your hiring sources, from social media to employee referrals, requires more than just focusing on candidate numbers, according to Hunter.
“You might be getting a significant portion of candidates, shortlisted applicants or even hires from a handful of sources, but it’s important to measure that directly against retention data to determine where you find the right candidates. Then you can allocate resources and make technology investments in the right areas.
“You don’t want to take your people’s focus off these areas, but it’s critical to increase efficiencies, giving them more time to make strategic decisions and judgements requiring human input.”
“The average time to hire is around 40 days in Australia and 44 days in the UK. And a significant portion of this time is spent on back-office work. It’s precisely the type of work that is ripe for technology investment.
“It doesn’t involve strategic decision-making. It just needs to get done, often in a standardised way. So it just doesn’t make sense to allocate people resources to it,” says Hunter.
This is why he and his business partner, Neil Rose, started Referoo. As experienced recruiters, the pair often lamented the time wasted on reference checking.
“There was all this time spent chasing candidates for referee details, then hunting down referees. Nothing seemed to be out there that resolved the issue, so we decided we would solve it ourselves, and Referoo was born.”
Today, Referoo solves reference-checking challenges for HR and TA professionals across Australia, the UK and Europe.
Alongside reference checking, Hunter says many processes are crying out for automation between application and hiring.
“There’s a myth that every solution has to be so heavily AI-based that it takes away the human element. You don’t have to give the entire process to a piece of software. You can use it judiciously for tasks across the recruitment journey, from job posting to onboarding and, of course, reference-checking.”
Hunter highlights that engagement and retention rates are often looked at outside the hiring process. But, he points out, they are critical to it.
“Getting the right people in the door during the hiring process is critical to engagement and retention. But they aren’t something you can look at in a vacuum. Your retention rate may be high, but if they are poor-fit candidates, that’s going to be misleading.”
He says the key is to look at performance and engagement data, and if you’re missing this piece of the puzzle, it’s something you need to address.
“Engagement and performance are often seen as part of the ongoing HR piece, separate from talent acquisition, but they are a vital indicator of the quality of hires. Ultimately, that’s more important than the numbers.
“If your processes aren’t aligned and giving you this overview, that’s something you can look to technology to solve. The best HR management platforms will give you access to all of this data, and integrate with the other platforms you use in your hiring process.”
When it comes to reading swathes of data, it can be easy to get caught up focusing on individual numbers, but positive numbers can be part of a not-so-happy story and vice versa, Hunter says.
“The story is more important than the figures themselves. You can have competitive time-to-fill but low engagement, performance or retention rates. It doesn’t matter if you are securing them fast if they are the wrong people.”
Hunter adds that it is another area where it’s essential to make the right technology investments.
“We’ve been conscious of increasing efficiency and decreasing reference turnaround time while ensuring our platform increases reference quality. We know that giving referees the right prompts in the right format can uncover a wealth of information that is absolutely vital to making the right hiring decision.”
Hunter concludes by saying it’s important to start by understanding the needles you want to move. Then, he says, you can accurately assess your technology options through this lens to drive the improvements you want to see.