Supersize Recruiting – A Case Study

Part 1:  Using Data to Drive Decisions
Part 2: Data vs. Knowledge

As promised, for the final part of this series on elevating or Supersizing your recruiting function, I will step through a past hiring project as a case study on how data and knowledge were used to fund and drive a successful recruiting project.

Let me set the stage.  In consulting, people are your product – so your target headcount number is extremely important to achieve your revenue numbers.  As such, we knew from a recruiting perspective what we needed to hire above our current headcount number to achieve our planned book of business.  However, we also had a group of third party consultants that were being subbed on projects to cover increased demand for services – which offered us an opportunity save $2M YOY in costs that affected our margins – direct $’s to the bottom line — if we replaced them with full time employees.  And of course we still had to cover attrition that had occurred or would likely occur during this process.  Lastly, we didn’t have a lot of time to do it.  Shocker, I know.

Our Exec came fully prepared, and even expecting, to have to pay costly third party fees to achieve this goal – especially a very hard to find skill set — in a very tight time frame.  My job at this point is to tell them if this “project” was doable, what it would take, and what it would cost.  Guessing should not be an option – and it doesn’t need to be.  The data doesn’t lie – and I needed it to not only give me these answers, but to help me tell the story.  This is business – I can’t rely on guesses, my credibility, my charm, or even my good looks (*smile*).

Armed with my “story”, I demonstrated what we needed to invest and where – and where/how our recruiters time should be spent.  I also looked at all types of data, metrics, and measures and derived knowledge around how to make the process better and faster, more effective and efficient, and provide on target, higher quality candidates.  Things like:

  • Job profiling workshops with hiring teams to create an agreed upon profile (by all involved) for recruiting as well as the assessment criteria, for which all parties would be held accountable.  No finding out at interview debriefs what they were really seeking (and increasing time to fill)…
  • Baseline interview training for all interviewers  (understanding assessment criteria and how to use interview process to make informed decisions)
  • Pre-screening questions (knockout, rankings)
  • Behavioral assessment testing to gain predictive data and insights into candidates behavioral tendencies and motivations to be used with our profile
  • Pre-scheduled and staffed interview dates and debriefs
  • Predefined offer approval and delivery process (if certain candidate process scores and salary ranges were met – boom)
  • I looked at source data for “quality” candidates (Tech-screened – meaning a manager reviewed/selected –to hired; Performance)


And not just how the “Sources” (Boards, Referrals, Direct Sourcing, Agencies, internals, candidate pools, pipelines, etc.) performed, but what their capabilities were — and what opportunities there were to make them perform better too.

This is business intelligence 101 – its not just a history lesson – it is decision support.  This is how the plan was formulated and sold.  I admit, they were skeptical – our leadership, and frankly, I think even the recruiters — but I had the data to help me tell my story.  I am not going to show you the data as it is lengthy — and proprietary — but the story it told me was:

  1. Search our database and push a personalized email out to selected candidates telling them a little bit about our opportunity and why it might be of interest to them – inviting them to read more via a link to the job on our website.
  2. Purchase a “national” job posting on our highest performing job board.  We used carefully crafted verbiage based on messaging geared to the profile of people we were seeking and utilizing high performing keywords we extracted from job board vendor data – also based on the “ideal candidate profile”.  The national scope of the posting – while very costly – allowed for our job to appear where appropriate — regardless of location searched by prospective candidates.  It was still about the same, maybe even a touch less, as one agency fee.
  3. Hold a special “hot skill” referral contest for this profile/role only


These three things were geared to drive candidates from our top sources for this role – Employee Referrals and yes, Job Boards (or really just one particular job board in this case).  But most importantly, our own database — which represented no one particular source, but was obviously a huge pool of previously identified talent that already had knowledge of or interest in our organization.

To cover ourselves with any particular doubters, we did also open the search with two of our valued vendor partners.  I was fully comfortable that in this case, based on the data we had (historical, market, capabilities, etc.), that it would not make much of an impact on our recruiters, for redundant efforts or candidate duplication.  We had a vendor portal that they could submit their candidates through, which did a dupe check of our database immediately.  If a candidate was already in there, it would not allow the candidate to be submitted – and we would be none the wiser – eliminating any potential conflict over how a candidate was surfaced.  As it turned out, they were not even a factor.

In each of these cases the candidates were directed to our website to apply – which also had brief screening questions – to help aid the recruiters prioritize the candidates to be reviewed and ultimately screened as appropriate…

As active or “motivated” candidates came in from these marketing efforts, our recruiters could focus on screening them.  Then use the searches they set up initially for the ATS  marketing effort, to focus on direct calls to the hottest candidates surfaced.  This process can also be repeated within Linkedin, referrals, and other sourced candidates.  Using the process we outlined above to get the candidates through the process, we knocked this project out of the park — on time and under budget.  We were able to do what we set out to do, achieving the results we predicted the way we predicted being able to do it.  We met our book of business and saved the company $2M YOY direct to the bottom line.

The success of that project, along with many others, demonstrated our ability to go beyond being order-takers, facilitating butts in seats — such as

Hiring projects and programs
Workforce planning
Succession planning and executive hiring
Talent management/career development
Due diligence during M&A projects and merger integration projects
Scouting new office locations – domestic and global (talent market conditions, availability, trends)

…even determining product lines to offshore.  How can Recruiting know what product could be done in a particular location(s)?  By knowing how many we could realistically hire based on our bandwidth, budget — and the availability of talent, at what we were willing to pay, and other outside factors such as brand awareness in the marketplace.  If you want to elevate –  collect the dots, connect the dots — tell stories with your data, your knowledge — and help drive the business forward.


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About The Author

Chris Havrilla

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11 2012

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