Everywhere you look, there are news articles about how big data is transforming the recruiting industry. Journalists and marketers everywhere herald the next “new age” for recruiters, where metrics and statistical analysis facilitate the personal relationships that recruiting is all about.

Jon Palmieri

The thing is, most conversations about big data take place on the sidelines. It’s hard to find candid stories about what the data revolution looks like from the perspective of recruiters on the front lines. How is this trend manifesting itself for the people who are actually on the phones day in and day out, connecting candidates with clients and making placements?

We had the chance to chat with Jonathon Palmieri, a consultant at Hobson Associates, one of the oldest, largest privately held search firms in the United States, to learn how he uses a data-driven approach to help him track performance against his peers, refine his recruiting process, and gain an edge in relationships with clients.

1) How does having access to hard data help you refine your recruiting process?

We use it in the sense that we’re all given goals and metrics that we have to meet as far as certain levels of calls. For rookies, we use that to gauge how effective a script is or how effective a voicemail is or things along those lines.

Comparing different scripts we used or call back ratios or the types of jobs you’re working to monitor the pipeline and the result that comes from working certain jobs. We can go back [and look at] how well we took a job order, how long it took us to close it, and how many hours we worked on it.

That way I can track to see where can I make the most money, and where the most activity is happening. An “A” job can turn into a “B” job at any moment, so it’s easy to see that now they’re calling me every day to try and get more candidates in the door.

And then you can compare [job orders] to determine which ones I am most likely to make the most money on, which ones I have activity on, and which ones I have actually been working compared to the activity I’m seeing.

2) Where would you say a data-driven approach to recruiting has the most impact?

You can look at the numbers and get an idea of how effective we’re being or how on target we are as far as what a client’s looking for.

It’s a matter of if you’re making the right calls, if you’ve exhausted your resources and the client needs to adjust their expectations or if it’s a matter of you being effective as far as how much activity have you really put onto a job. [The numbers] tell whether it’s time to cut ties or whether it’s fine to stay with it.

Say we got 100 candidates that we submitted to the job and [the client doesn’t] want to see any of them. Are we calling the right people? Have we adjusted with them?

Sometimes a client has unrealistic expectations or maybe they don’t quite know what they want or haven’t communicated it to us properly. [We can see that by] pairing the numbers.

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3) You’ve touched on how you use metrics internally, how does performance data affect your communication with clients?

I provide a lot of my clients with reports. You can work a job for two weeks, calling on it, and perhaps not finding a candidate to send out to the job. On the other side of the house, they have no idea of what you’re doing — how many calls you’ve made or who you’ve called.

Many times, I’ll put together a report and send it to them, to show that there’s progress, because [clients] are using multiple recruiters to fill a position.

So if you’re making an impression, it’s your first time working with a client, you may not be able to place a candidate with them. But it’s nice to show them the type of work [you do] and how much work you’ve actually put into the position.

They can tell you’re actually doing work for them and keep track of the [candidates] you target or progress you’ve made on the position.

The average fill time is pretty long for a position [I fill], especially if you’re working with corporate recruiters — they have managers and their bosses, plus everything else involved.

So they like to see what activity you’ve actually done, what have you actually called on, and how effective you’re being. [With data] you really have a little bit more ammunition to go to bat [for] the work that you’ve done and have a little bit more to go to the table when you need to adjust with what they’re looking for or provide some insights to where you’re having progress on it.

4) How does that change the client/recruiter relationship?

Some companies will try and use job orders to just fish for candidates to increase their pipeline. And because they’ll engage us on a contingency, we wouldn’t get paid unless we placed someone there.

So that’s what I’m saying about if they didn’t interview anybody or if they’re not giving realistic feedback on candidates, and we could see we already burned 300 hours on it, and if there’s no motion on it, then we would see that in the numbers.

We’d probably shy away from continuing working with them, or touch base with them to [find out] why we’ve submitted 20 people and haven’t gotten a call back on any of them, or haven’t had any interviews at all.

We would have to gauge on what the reasoning is and the message behind why they haven’t made moves on it, but we could at least keep track of our side of it.

About Jonathon Palmeiri: Palmeiri specializes in connecting insurance talent with insurance leaders. Since joining Hobson Associates in 2014, he has been focused on developing relationships with professionals within the insurance industry, and serving as an advisor to job seekers on résumé writing, interviewing, and technological resources. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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