These Strategic Goals Can Help to Focus Your Recruiting Function

What could be more important than having everyone on your team focused and on the same page? Unfortunately, in my interactions with corporate recruiting leaders, I am frequently surprised to find that they don’t have a formal set of strategic goals for their talent acquisition function. That’s a major problem because you certainly can’t be strategic unless you have a formal written strategy (most don’t) and a corresponding set of goals to make it clear to everyone what you’re trying to accomplish. Not having clearly defined, measurable, and communicated strategic goals can add to the confusion about “what is important” and “what is less important.”

While having goals provides focus and direction, their absence can cause team members to wander and to waste time and resources in low-value areas. So if you want your team to be laser focused on the important things, have clear goals that clarify your purpose and that specify what you’re trying to accomplish and what great results would look like.

In that light, this article provides a list of the strategic goals that truly effective corporate recruiting leaders can choose from. Reaching many of these recruiting goals is more complicated because the factors involved in reaching them are not 100 percent controlled by your team. However, it’s time for recruiting leaders to learn to follow the standard business practice of assuming the captain-of-the-ship role which assumes responsibility for meeting goals that you don’t have 100 percent control over.

The Possible Strategic Goals for the Recruiting Function

I define “strategic goals” as those that cover the recruiting and business impacts that would interest senior executives. Obviously each strategic recruiting goal must be clear and measurable and there also must be a target number and a process for measuring whether that target was met during the past year. Exclude most recruiting efficiency and effectiveness measures (i.e. cost per hire) from your strategic goals, because executives simply assume that all professionals will automatically meet those internal goals. The 25+ possible recruiting function strategic goals listed below are divided into six sub categories, and the titles of the very top goals appear in italics.

Quality and volume-of-hire related goals

  1. Hire innovators – the goal is to attract and hire individuals in key jobs who produce and implement innovations while on the job that improve the existing approach by 25 percent or more.
  2. Hire top performers – the goal is to attract and hire individuals in key jobs who within two years produce results among the top 10 percent of those in their job. In addition, in a survey, at least 75 percent of hiring managers report that at least 95 percent of their new hires “meet or exceed” their on-the-job performance expectations. A sub-goal may be to calculate the added dollar value provided by each top-performing new hire (compared to an average performing hire).
  3. Hire those who stay – the goal is to attract and hire individuals with a low voluntary turnover rate, so that new hire tenure exceed the target.
  4. Hire individuals with advanced skills – the goal is to attract and hire individuals in key jobs who have the advanced skills, knowledge, and experience (especially in technology) that your organization will need in the future. A sub-goal may also be to hire individuals who have the ability to quickly learn and then adapt to a fast-changing world.
  5. Hire top college grads  the goal is to attract and hire college students in targeted majors who within two years meet or exceed the preset on-the-job performance and retention targets.
  6. A low new-hire-failure rate – the goal is to be able to show that the number of new hire failures who had to be terminated within the first six months was below the target. A sub-goal may be to calculate the dollar costs of each new hire failure.
  7. No positions went unfilled – because open positions that are never filled result in less needed work getting done, the goal is for recruiting to be able to demonstrate that the recruiting team filled its target percentage of open positions by the hiring manager’s “need date.”
  8. Hire diversity – the goal is to attract and hire diverse individuals in exempt jobs who increase our ability to understand and serve our diverse customer base.

Maximizing your business-impact goals

  1. No significant revenue loss – the goal is to be able to show that your firm did not lose significant revenue by having excess “position vacancy days” as a result of slow recruiting for revenue-generating positions.
  2. No project delays – because almost all new product development and innovations operate on a project basis, the goal is to be able to demonstrate that weak recruiting didn’t result in the slowing or stopping of any critical work or projects during the year. Whether you’ve reached this “project delay goal” is determined by surveying project managers on a quarterly basis to identify if any projects have been negatively impacted by weak recruiting. A sub-goal may be to calculate the dollar costs of each project delay related to weak recruiting. 

Providing-a-competitive-advantage related goals

  1. Provide a competitive advantage – the goal is to provide unique and hard-to-copy talent acquisition strategies, processes, and tools that clearly give your firm a competitive advantage in results over your talent competitor firms.
  2. Win head-to-head competitions – the goal is to be able to show that your firm wins more than 60 percent of the time when it is competing head-to-head against a major talent competitor for the same candidate in a key position. A sub-goal may be to win the “giveaway /takeaway ratio,” where your firm recruits more talent from competitors than is able to recruit away from your firm.

Hiring-manager-related goals

  1. Satisfied hiring managers – the goal is to interact with hiring managers and executives and to produce results, so that at least 75 percent of the managers report in a survey that they are very satisfied or above with the entire recruiting process and the recruiters who they worked with.
  2. Respecting a hiring manager’s time – the goal to be able to demonstrate from survey results that the recruiting process minimizes any unnecessary time that hiring managers must commit to recruiting, so that managers can focus on their business commitments.
  3. Compliant hiring managers – the goal is to influence hiring managers so that they adhere to recruiting processes and laws 98 percent of the time.

Effective strategic-recruiting-process-related goals

  1. Employer brand strength – the goal is to be able to demonstrate that your organization meets its employer brand strength target in “best-place-to work” type rankings (your rank compared to your talent competitor firms). Also, to be able to demonstrate that the positive aspects of the firm that your target prospects care about are clearly visible and easily seen on the Internet and social media and that the firm’s negatives are minimized.
  2. Talent pipeline capability – the goal is to be able to demonstrate to executives that the recruiting process has developed a “talent pipeline” capability for pre-identifying and pre-assessing top prospects for all key positions, so that these top prospects are available “immediately” when a sudden vacancy occurs. The “pre-need” pipeline should result in a significant lower “time to fill” and a higher quality of hire for these key positions.
  3. Positions are prioritized – the goal is to be able to demonstrate to executives that open jobs are prioritized, so that the best recruiting resources are directed toward filling the “high-priority” position openings first.
  4. Top sources are used – in order to be able to demonstrate that the organization is getting the highest-quality applicant, the goal is to be able to show that at least 80 percent of the hires in key jobs came from sources that have recently produced the highest on the job performance, diversity, and tenure rates.
  5. A fast time to fill – the goal is to be able to demonstrate that the recruiting process is streamlined and expedited to the point where the time to fill in key positions is below target and that of your key talent competitors.
  6. Quality applicants were not missed – the goal is to be able to demonstrate that only a small percentage of high-quality applicants and candidates were not hired and therefore lost because they dropped out or were screened out anywhere during the hiring process.
  7. Legal compliance – the goal is to be able to demonstrate that the recruiting process results in a “below target” number of applicant and candidate complaints. A sub-goal is to keep the dollar costs of legal recruiting issues below the target.
  8. A strong business case – the goal is to ensure that the recruiting budget continually increases as a result of an effective business case. This convincingly demonstrates to executives the high dollar impact of recruiting on corporate revenue and other strategic business goals.
  9. Continuous improvement process – the goal is to be able to demonstrate to executives that the recruiting function has both standard and predictive metrics which have led to a continuous rate of improvement in recruiting results.
  10. Forecasted talent shortages and surpluses – the goal is to be able to demonstrate that the function has accurately forecasted and alerted hiring managers about upcoming talent shortages and surpluses in the marketplace, so that they could act in time.

Applicant-related goals

  1. Qualified applicants – the goal is to routinely provide hiring managers with slates of candidates who meet and exceed the skills and experience requirements of the job. That can be demonstrated in the results from a survey, where at least 75 percent of hiring managers report that they are very satisfied or above with the quality of applicant slates.
  2. Satisfied applicants – the goal is to interact with applicants, candidates, interviewees, and new hires in such a way that at least 60 percent report in a survey that they are very satisfied or above with how they were treated throughout the recruiting process.

Final Thoughts

In the course of day-to-day operations, many corporate recruiting leaders and managers get so tied up with fighting fires and tactical distractions that they inadvertently fail to maximize their strategic impact. Every other senior business executives makes it a standard operating practice to set and communicate clear strategic goals each year to help guide and focus their team, so corporate recruiting leaders must learn to follow suit. In order to be strategic, you must somehow find the time to set and prioritize the handful of strategic goals of the function, so that everyone unambiguously knows what you’re trying to accomplish and what success looks like at the beginning of each year.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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