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Key Metrics Every Talent Acquisition & HR Team Must Measure

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Acquiring talent is not an easy process. Having been in this market for nearly 20 years, I can say that I have seen a transformative change in the talent acquisition in recent years. To make sure you are on the right track to achieve your hiring goals and acquire top quality talent, a variety of metrics need to be measured by the talent acquisition or the HR team. These teams must take the time to measure key metrics in order to make improvements on an ongoing basis and ensure you are hitting your goals.

Having worked with a number of large and small employers, I have seen a wide spectrum of measures used by companies – some not too useful and some very scientific. Understanding what key metrics are measured and what goes into the data is of the utmost importance. Here I share some of the most important metrics I have seen leading companies use and have helped establish for some of the companies I have worked with.

Time to Productivity

Time to hire is a good metric to have but measuring Time to Productivity has a direct impact on the business. The time to productivity identifies how long a candidate stays in training or “ramp-up” once they become an employee.

The goal should always be for a candidate to be highly qualified and be extremely productive ones they reach their joining date. I know, it is easier said than done but once you start measuring this, you will have a good visibility into how long it takes to get an employee to let’s say 80-90% productivity.

The longer it takes for them to get going and be able to work on their own, the more it will cost you as a company because of training and because of reduced productivity. Once you know the number, you hiring processes need to be tweaked to get that top quality talent and also solidly on-boarding programs.

Candidate Dropout Rate

There’s nothing more frustrating than losing a perfect candidate after a long and involved hiring process and making an offer. I have seen 20-40% dropout rate for Indian employers.

One employer I talked to just last week experiences 50% dropout rate – ouch! This is a big issue for Indian employers as the notice period ranges from 30-90 days and that large window offers a great opportunity for that candidate to dropout.

The candidate dropout rate needs to be measured in order to determine where problems exist. Particularly in specialized fields, there are only a limited number of qualified candidates.

Many companies are competing for these candidates and therefore a candidate will dropout between the time they are offered a job and the time they actually come on board. Also, it’s important to measure the reasons behind this dropout.

Once you know what the dropout rate is and the reasons for the same, it is easy to take measures to address the issue. I recently wrote a guide on how to reduce your dropout rate and deliver an incredible candidate experience.


Total Cost of Ownership

Measuring the total cost of ownership that is to bring candidates on board, prior to paying a salary, is another crucial metric often overlooked. When there are aggressive hiring goals, companies increase their spending and many a times may end up spending time and money on those things that are not really contributing to the end goal as much.

Lot of time companies look at fees as the most common measure to calculate hiring costs, neglecting a large portion of indirect costs including time spent by hiring managers, talent acquisition team, and other expenses to bring candidates on-board. Total cost of ownership essentially determines all of the expenses that went into acquiring a candidate in order to bring them into the company.

Depending upon the acquisition goals and strategy, it could include branding costs, advertising and marketing costs, travel costs, lunch and dinner meetings, various pre-employment workshops, and most importantly the amount of time spent by various teams within an organization.

When I sat with a number of employers to help them calculate total cost of ownership, some of them could not believe how high the acquisition cost was. Before you start cutting on costs, know what is the actual cost to bring a candidate on-board and then think about optimizing that.

Quality of Hiring

Study after study has shown that hiring “top quality” talent is the #1 priority for talent acquisition teams and CEOs across the world. There are a number of elements of the hiring process to ensure you are getting a top talent. However, there is never a 100% and that is why if the candidate is not being an ideal employee, there is likely a problem with the hiring process and these trends need to be tracked effectively in order to tweak the hiring process as a way of attracting candidates that fit the DNA of your company and position.
Too often I have seen that companies lower the bar because they are not getting candidates that meet their standards or requirements. It is a frequent occurrence where I have seen that number of positions remain open for a long time and managers will lower their standards or use a bigger net to get candidate flow.

While you want to set your standards and requirements based on the market you are targeting and talent availability there, it is a big mistake to lower your standards and I always recommend my clients to never go on this route as this is a slippery slope and quite damaging to your organization in the long run.

It’s a bit tricky and there are no shortcuts I know of, but one way to measure a quality of the candidate is to have 30/90/180 day performance evaluations to see where they are and how they benchmarked against other employees and your expectations for a particular position. You want to make sure there are both quantitative and qualitative measures in these evaluations.

New Employee Engagement and Embracing of Culture and Position

New employees should also be engaging within the company and embracing both the culture as well as the position. When an employee joins your firm even with a 15 years of experience, it is a still a big change and it is extremely important to ensure the engagement within the first 90-180 days and make sure he/she embraces your culture.

I admit, this is not as easy to measure as some of the other key metrics. However, there are creative and scientific ways to measure. Surveys as well as the use of 360° peer evaluations will help to tell you what you need to know about new employees and how well they are fitting in with the new environment. These tools should help you identify areas that you need to address early on.


Candidate Rejection Rate

We all have seen statistics where for some of the employers the acceptance rate from total applications is 1-2% while on the other side of the spectrum it is 40-50%. Neither is bad given what are your goals and the size of the talent pool in a particular market.

This is a very important metric to measure candidate rejection within the various stages of the entire recruiting pipeline or funnel. This includes from initial application submission, resume review, and candidate screening, to interviews, offer, and then the actual join day. If you are losing candidates in one specific area, it will show a red flag within the funnel. This identifies where you need to spend more time and tweak your processes.

I always insist my clients that don’t look at rejection only from your side. It is very important to measure where candidates are rejecting you. This is directly related to the candidate experience, which I have covered in my other post and will be writing much more about it in coming posts.

Make sure you are measuring candidate rejection ratio both from you and candidate throughout the funnel. This will surely help you improve your throughput and maximize efficiency for your entire team while of course ensuring that you are getting the top talent.


By taking the time to measure the different key metrics, a talent acquisition team is able to maintain effectiveness and meet goals more regularly. By using these key metrics, you can determine what issues exist, if any. Then, you can begin taking the necessary steps to fixing the system so you have more outstanding performers throughout your company.

I hope this article got you thinking hard about what metrics you are using and which ones you can add to your recruitment dashboards. I would be curious to know what other metrics your team has been tracking that you found helpful and has made an impact in your talent acquisition efforts.


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One thought on “Key Metrics Every Talent Acquisition & HR Team Must Measure

  1. Greetings! Really helpful advice on this article!
    It’s the little changes that make the largest changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!

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