During a period of low unemployment, competition for candidates becomes particularly fierce. The best job candidates know how to stand out in the crowd; it's important that companies and recruiters are able to do the same. Paying attention to a few key metrics can be the difference between assembling an A-list team of rock star unicorns or getting your competitor's leftovers.

Big data, of course, is already embraced by many companies, particularly at the enterprise level, but you don't need a data scientist to track and analyze these categories. Even if you're running a mom-and-pop shop and recruiting is one of your 100 responsibilities, it's worth tracking these, and correcting course as needed.

Here are six important recruitment metrics that could make or break your dream team:

1. Time-to-hire

A too-lengthy hiring process gives candidates time to find greener pastures, and may communicate a lack of interest or urgency. Internally, an open position can turn into a cost-prohibitive productivity bottleneck if left vacant too long.

To reduce your hiring time, make sure you are casting the widest possible net for candidates. Don't settle for a favorite job board or two; get on all of them.

Spend extra time to craft a compelling and informative job description, along with details about your company's story and culture. Focusing on how you present yourself to applicants will serve as an extra layer of pre-interview screening.

Communicate with candidates at each stage to let them know expectations. Finally, while you don't want to rush an offer, don't deliberate for an unnecessarily suspenseful amount of time.

2. Stage-to-stage conversions

Are you letting too many people through your phone screening? Not enough? Are you waiting too long before scheduling in-person interviews?

Make sure your candidates are flowing easily from one stage of the interviewing process to the next, keeping in mind that passive candidates may require additional time to reach an accepted offer, since they don't have the same urgency as candidates who are actively searching and applying.

Here, again, strong job descriptions can help the conversation rate; by listing wage info, for example, you reduce the likelihood of wasting time on several in-person interviews with someone who's ultimately looking for twice the wages you're offering.

3. Percentage of completed applications

A majority of job seekers have started an online job application only to decide that they don't want the job as much as they want to stop filling out the form. Some companies assume that this process filters out weak candidates, but it's actually filtering out a cross-section of all candidates.

A simplified application process can increase both the quantity and quality of your candidate pool. Cut unnecessary questions - don't be afraid to be ruthless with this step - and look for any times that you make the candidate type the same information twice.

4. Offer acceptance

By the time you've extended an offer, you've likely devoted a substantial amount of time to the candidate. You may even have gone "all-in" and already let your candidate pipeline go dry. A declined offer at that stage can be both a financial hit and a morale hit.

If you're being left at the altar repeatedly, it's time to critically assess what's happening between the final interview and the offer. The fix may be something as simple as issuing offers sooner. Alternatively, you may be inadvertently throwing up a red flag in the interview process.

Don't be shy about asking candidates for feedback, especially if evidence is pointing toward the latter.

5. Conversion rates by source

Unlike offer acceptance, this metric isn't a number that you can track on the back of a napkin, but it's critical to have a sense of the quality and quantity of candidates coming from each of your sources. How do referred candidates perform compared to sourced candidates? How does LinkedIn compare to Indeed?

Automation can do some of the heavy lifting here. An applicant tracking system (like Workpop) can help you optimize your sourcing spend to make sure you're spending money in the right places, on the right sources.

6. Long-term employer and employee satisfaction

You will track these metrics separately, but they are inextricably connected. Recruiting success isn't just about filling needs in the short-term. The ultimate test of whether you're recruiting well is whether your fresh-faced recruits turn into satisfied old-timers succeeding in critical roles.

While the traditional annual review has come under fire in recent years, most companies have some sort of review process in place. The results, however, aren't always shared with the recruiting team or fed back into the hiring process.

Published on: Jul 20, 2017