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How and Why You Should Be Auditing Recruitment Strategies


Data is an invaluable resource. It’s the oil that fuels just about every department, in every business, across every industry. It gives us insight into how our marketing campaigns are faring. It tells us who and where our customers are. And if leveraged correctly, it can help us make smarter hiring decisions.

Last week, the New York Times announced that the unemployment rate has dropped to 3.9%, the lowest it’s been in nearly 20 years. While that’s good for the economy, it’s not so great for businesses in industries with hard-to-fill roles, such as engineering, manufacturing, and tech. The worsening talent shortage has started to affect administrative positions as well, making it difficult for recruiters to fill core support roles in a timely manner. It’s safe to say that competition for talent is fierce, and businesses need to ensure they’re leaving no stone unturned when looking for talent. Now is the perfect time to start auditing recruitment strategies.

What is Recruitment Auditing?

I get it. Recruitment auditing isn’t at the top of every business’s priority list. Companies don’t always have the time or resources to look at HR processes in depth, and when they do, compliance is usually the target. Unfortunately, the talent shortage isn’t letting up anytime soon. Businesses need to start investing heavily in their recruiting strategies, and it all starts with an audit.

It’s no surprise that data-driven recruitment strategies are the most effective these days; Big Data has made its way into nearly every facet of organizational operations. Recruitment audits seek to analyze data across each function of the department, including (but not limited to):

  • Job requisition generation
  • Sourcing and screening methods
  • Interview processes, and
  • Onboarding

By examining each of these functions individually, we can identify the areas that need urgent attention - those that likely indicate leaks in the hiring funnel. Often, a shortage of qualified candidates can occur when the job descriptions are too vague or too detailed, or when an organization’s sourcing methods are outdated. Recruitment auditing also gives us a glimpse of candidate and employee experiences. Understandably, bumps in the interview or onboarding processes will cause long time-to-fill rates and could even turn talent away.

Uncovering Relevant Data

Auditing recruitment strategies is just like auditing any other department – the quality of the data is much more important than the quantity. The secret to a successful audit is knowing where to look, why you’re looking, and what data to pull from each source. Here are a few ideas:

  • Identify key stakeholders for surveying. These should include a diverse representation of the hiring process, including hiring managers, recruiters, executives, and candidates.
  • Identify the processes you want to analyze. You can determine which processes need attention based on where you’re losing candidates from the pipeline. For example, if your submission rate is low, it could mean there’s a problem with requisition initiation. Create a list of areas that need to be examined.
  • Use the list as a guide when surveying each representative. Which areas do they think are the weakest? Which are the strongest? What improvements do they suggest?
  • Look at HR data to discover hiring trends within your organization, then compare them to national hiring trends and predictions. This will help you forecast talent needs and target emerging recruitment strategies for research.

Using Data to Analyze Candidate Experience

Keep in mind that a recruitment audit shouldn’t be limited solely to internal processes and data. Employers should approach the audit with a strong focus on candidate experience. As we’ve said (many times) before, a positive candidate experience is critical to finding qualified talent in today’s narrowing labor market. A negative experience not only turns away good candidates, it can also have a ripple effect. Applicants have no hesitations about sharing their experience on social media, and word-of-mouth travels fast. Even one bad review is enough to tarnish your employer brand. An article from SHRM shares their roadmap for auditing candidate experience:

“Begin the audit by mapping the candidate's journey through your hiring process from end-to-end, pinpointing the processes and technologies that underpin each interaction point with job seekers…begin at the top of the funnel. This stage includes the first impressions a job seeker has with an organization and includes job postings, the careers site, SEO, social media pages and overall job search functionality.”

SHRM suggests that employers focus first on the application process, identifying ways to shorten the application and removing unnecessary gateways (like login requirements) that impact conversion rates. You can then move to the next stage to see how hiring managers and recruiters interact with candidates as they move through the pipeline. Throughout the audit, you should be asking stakeholders and candidates for feedback at each stage.

Analyzing the Competition

By now, you should be starting to see how effective your recruitment strategies are both internally and as they relate to candidates. The final piece of the puzzle lies with your biggest rivals. You’ll need to do a competitive audit, and you should heed the advice of Jody Ordioni, author of “The Talent Brand” if you want to pull it off successfully. Ordioni shares a few ideas in a recent article for ERE:

“Statistics show that the company career site is the first place a candidate will go to do their research, so that’s where you should begin your sleuthing. And, since a competitive audit should also measure the candidate experience, look at your competitor’s efforts with an unbiased eye.”

Ordioni recommends analyzing your competitor’s messaging to determine how they present their culture and what methods they use to engage candidates. Using this information (and all the other data you’ve uncovered during the recruitment audit) you can start devising a differentiation strategy for your employer brand.

Big Data Offers Big Hiring Potential

As advanced as technology may seem, we’ve only scratched the surface of Big Data’s possibilities. Businesses have only just begun to use Big Data to inform their hiring strategies, so it makes sense that many are overwhelmed and struggling with a lack of focus when looking at hiring data. But with a little clarity (and a handy guide like this one), employers should be able to pinpoint the most valuable data and gain relevant, actionable insight into their recruitment strategies.

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