How To Design a Data-Driven Recruiting Strategy

What was the reason your last hire left the company within a month? What are the reasons some of your hires turn out to be star performers? Why hiring for horizontal roles takes you longer when compared to other roles in the organization? How much did a bad hire cost you?

How soon can you hire a technology salesperson? Shall I cut down on one of the job boards? If you face these questions or if these thoughts cross your mind then you need to implement a data-driven recruiting strategy in your organization.

We are living in an information era. Data means gold. Data uncovers hidden stories. Also, data-driven recruiting helps you plan better. It helps you in allocating funds, it helps you budget your spend, it helps you improve the quality of hire. And many other things. So how to design a data-driven recruiting strategy for your company?

Design Data Driven Recruiting Strategy

In order to implement a data-driven hiring strategy, you need to first identify the purpose of capturing data. Ask many WHY and WHAT questions to yourself and your team. This exercise will help you in identifying the most critical data points that you need to capture. Once you identify important data points, you need to figure out how to capture such data. When you capture important numbers then you need to work on building important recruitment metrics to build stories. After you have important metrics in place, you would know what actions you need to take to improve your recruitment process.

Let’s look at the first step where we identify important recruiting parameters that we need to focus on.

Identify Important Data Points

Before you decide on what kind of data you need to capture, decide on why you want to capture that data. Here is a list of questions that may help you identify important parameters in your recruitment process.

  • What job board I shall subscribe to?
  • Where should I post my jobs to? Social media platforms, free job boards, paid job boards?
  • Shall I subscribe to multiple job boards?
  • Where could I find the best people for finance industry roles?
  • Is GitHub really a good place to find tech candidates for niche skills?
  • Do I need to hire more recruiters?
  • Can we close open job positions sooner?
  • Why don’t we receive good resumes?
  • Why there is a high rate drop-off after accepting offers?
  • Can social media really help me in getting candidates?

The list is long. The idea here is to find a reason to capture data. Instead, of going by perception or gut-feeling it is always better to rely on data.

Once you get answers to questions you would realize you need to capture important data points such as source of the resume, qualification of the candidate, companies candidate worked for, cities where candidate has worked in, previous interview history if any, number of resumes required to screen to hire a candidate, job board that gives you most relevant resumes, etc.

Capture Important Data Points

Once you realized how you want to use data, you need to work on capturing that data. Ideally, you should be able to track all the activities in your hiring process. Activities like how many candidates are applying for the job, which platform is helping you the most in sourcing candidates, how many candidates are passing through each stage of hiring.

You can manually capture such information and you will need to maintain various spreadsheets to build MIS. You can build various spreadsheets that can store information such as the source of resumes, the time that is taken at various stages of the hiring process; for example, the day resume was received vs date candidate interviewed.

If you have a career page set up for your company, you should also use google analytics to understand how many users visit your career page vs how many actually apply for the job. Such numbers can reveal many important things about your company such as brand value, candidate experience, etc.

If you are planning to use spreadsheets then you need to maintain all this data manually. If you are using recruiting software or applicant tracking system or any kind of recruitment automation software then these numbers are automatically captured.

Building Recruitment Metrics

Recruitment analytics help you optimize your hiring process. Recruitment metrics help you measure important aspects of your recruiting process. For example, if you want to measure the speed of your hiring, you can use ‘Time to Fill’ metric to do so.

Recruitment metrics will tell you if you are on track or missing your goals. It will answer all the questions that you had in the first place. Here is a quick list of some of the important recruitment metrics.

  • Time to Fill – It tells you about the speed of hiring
  • Cost per hire – Amount you are spending to hire one candidate
  • Source of Hire – it will tell you how each candidate sourcing channel is performing. If it is an employee referral that’s working for you or if it is a recruitment agency that is doing a better job for you. For example, Hotel Marriott has built a Facebook page with the highest number of subscribers, i.e. over 1.2 million likes, which help them in attracting the best candidates.
  • Brand engagement – How interested candidates are in your brand based on open, click, respond to rates.
  • Team performance – Measure how your team is performing based on the number of jobs they work on, the number of jobs they close, the time they take and a few other parameters.

There are multiple recruiting analytics metrics you could build that will indicate the health of your hiring process. It ultimately depends on the parameters you want to measure.

Take Actions Based On Data

Once you have various numbers from recruitment metrics in front of you, you need to compare these numbers with –

  • Industry average
  • Your past numbers

Although it is a good idea to benchmark your performance against the industry average, it is better you compare numbers with your own. If your performance is not up to the mark then you need to dig in further to analyze where you are lagging behind. Some of the commonly known recruiting issues are as below –

Long Recruiting Cycles

If you are consistently taking longer to hire a candidate then check your pass-through rate. Also, use Time to Fill report to check at what stage of recruitment you are spending longer than usual. It will reveal if you are spending more time for candidate sourcing or resume screening or for interviewing candidates or during offer management.

Last Minute Dropout

If candidates are not joining your firm despite accepting an offer then you need to check parameters about brand recognition, brand engagement, candidate experience and salaries you are offering. Data will help you in finding a pattern among candidates that are dropping out the last moment.

Budget Planning

Data-driven recruiting can contribute immensely in budget planning. Every year companies invest into job boards, paid marketing for sourcing candidates. However, companies may not be able to put a finger on what is helping them most. Companies may not be analyzing how free job boards or social media platforms are helping them in attracting candidates.

Similarly, companies know employee referral program can get them, candidates, quickly and at a lower cost, however, companies often do not invest in such programs. Neither companies make it a priority. Having data to prove such claims can actually push organizations to reconsider their recruiting strategies.

Identify Right Candidate Sourcing Channels Based On Job Function

Do you find all kinds of candidates on a single job board? Probably no. Use data to find what kind of sourcing channel works best for which kind of jobs. For example, employee referral program may work best for tech hiring whereas social media platforms work great for attracting the right candidates for horizontal roles.

Also, among multiple job boards, you may find some job boards are good for some specific industries or job functions. For example, Dice is considered really good for tech hiring. When you have enough data to support such theories or claims it helps you in channeling your hiring efforts in the right direction.


Data-driven recruiting strategies shall help you plan and execute your hiring plans meticulously. It will help you assess your past recruiting efforts and realize the mistakes that you might have made in the past. If you are planning to improve your hiring process then the first thing you need to do is make it measurable. A data-driven hiring approach helps you measure all important aspects of hiring. Once you have data, things like assumption, perceptions, gut feeling are thrown out of the window. Data gives you real insights. It shows you hard facts. It tells you why you are not able to hire faster or why the quality of hiring is low. Use data-driven recruiting to hire the best candidates for your organization.

Author: Amit Gawande from CvViz

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