Drive Quality Hires
THE LEADING RECRUITMENT SOLUTION FOR PROFESSIONAL TALENT
Position Quality Hires | 1
Measure Up: ‘Quality’ Metrics Drive Accomplished.
“If you pull off quality-of-hire, you deserve a seat at the
strategic table; you deserve a seat at the head of the
table, right next to the CEO!”
— Lou Adler,
Author of Hire With Your Head
Measure Up: ‘Quality’ Metrics
Quality-of-hire has ﬁnally arrived.
Drive Quality Hires is the
second in a series of white For years, quality-of-hire enthusiasts have been a relatively small, yet extremely
papers that investigates inﬂuential group in the recruitment community.
the metrics most used by
recruiters. Future papers Yet, the majority of U.S. corporations have shied away from quality-of-hire
in the series will continue metrics and techniques. Difﬁculties like measuring performance over long
to explore best practices periods of time, tying the resulting analysis back to recruitment processes
that help achieve high or sources, and collaborating across organizational boundaries have created
performance. The goal implementation obstacles for large and small companies alike.
of the series is to provide
information from top Today, however, several factors point to the “mainstreaming” of quality-of-hire.
industry professionals One reason is competition. The pressure on recruiters and hiring managers to
to recruiters to help upgrade talent is increasingly intense. In the words of one executive interviewed
maximize success. for this white paper, “Just as a matter of survival, everyone has to ‘level-up’
At the same time, applicant tracking and employee performance management
systems have become more robust – and integrated – in time to meet this
What’s more, ﬁnancial analysis has proven that even small improvements in
new-hire quality deliver business beneﬁts that dwarf other recruitment and HR
initiatives (as well as initiatives in sales, product, marketing, technology and
other high-proﬁle functional areas).
The bottom line: increasing quality-of-hire translates directly into
Perhaps not surprisingly, many recruiters and experts interviewed believe
that the competitive advantage grows even greater when at the professional
($100K+) talent level.
“If you think about the impact of talent on your company, it’s HUGE,” says
quality-of-hire guru Lou Adler, author of Hire With Your Head. “This makes
the recruiting department, and HR, a strategic function. If you pull off
quality-of-hire, you deserve a seat at the strategic table; you deserve a seat
at the head of the table, right next to the CEO!”
Measure Up: ‘Quality’ Metrics Drive Quality Hires | 2
ROI: THE VALUE OF QUALITY-OF-HIRE IS PROVABLE
Quality-of-hire has been held back by the perception that it is subjective,
imprecise or otherwise too hard to quantify. Recently, this has begun
right requires extensive
Ed Taylor, CEO and founder of The Collective Group, a professional services
ﬁrm that relies on quality-of-hire techniques to differentiate itself, pinpoints
collaboration – and it
“Measuring quality-of-hire means spanning relatively long periods of time and
organizational boundaries – even within HR there’s a bifurcation between the
recruitment team and the rest of the department,” Taylor says. “Doing quality-
of-hire right requires collaboration – and it demands resolve,” Taylor adds.
According to recruitment guru Adler, that resolve can only come from HR leaders
who take responsibility for quality-of-hire, who communicate its value to the
rest of the organization, and who partner with the ﬁnance department and
with hiring managers to achieve it.
To this end, Adler has developed several ﬁnancial-impact models for recruitment
and HR executives to employ that will advance their quality-of-hire endeavors.
THE ’TOP-THIRD VS. BOTTOM-THIRD’ FINANCIAL IMPACT MODEL
One of Adler’s impact models for conceptually proving and communicating
the strategic value of quality-of-hire is embodied in Figure 1. In the model, “M”
is deﬁned as your company’s total revenue divided by your total compensation
expense. In other words, M is the “revenue multiplier” that tells how many
revenue dollars are produced by each dollar invested in employee compensation.
Bottom 1/3 Top 1/3
F D C B- B A
M=2 M=3 M=4
Top Third vs. Bottom Third = 2*M
Figure 1: Quality-of-Hire Financial Impact Model
(Source: The Adler Group)
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The letters running from left to right are grades, A through F, used to rate all
employees. The Bell Curve shows the normal distribution of employee quality
across the grades – with the most employees falling into the C to B range.
By improving quality ratios even modestly, the impact on revenue performance
If you can hire 10% more A’s
and B’s, you will be a hero! For example, if your company invests $10 million for new hires annually, hiring
in the bottom third of quality results in revenue of $20 million for the ﬁrst
year, while hiring in the top third generates $40 million – or double!1
“This puts the lie to focusing on reducing your recruitment expenses from,
say, $2.8 million to $2.2 million. It has no long-term impact on your company,”
says Adler. “On the other hand, if you can hire 10% more A’s and B’s, you
will be a hero!” he exclaims.
Extensive research ﬁndings support Adler’s model. For example, one study found
that, depending on the role (operations, sales, management), high performers
produce results in a range from 40% to 67% better than average employees.2
Adler and others warn, however, that HR and recruitment executives wishing
to use this model must collaborate closely with other departments, especially
ﬁnance, to customize the analysis for their individual companies.
THE QUALITY METRICS THAT MATTER
Several metrics are used most often (individually or in combination) as the
basis for quality-of-hire measurement and analysis.
Key QoH Measures Analytical Potential
• Hiring Manager Surveys Assess the quality of new
• New Hire Surveys hires and of recruitment and
• Performance Evaluations candidate sources
• Promotions Determine contribution
• Number of First-Year Hires to the company made by
in High-Potential Programs the recruitment function/
Figure 2: Quality-of-Hire Metrics
Using the 10-factor Talent Scorecard to Measure Quality of Hire, Webinar, The Adler Group,
November 2009 (at www.adlerconcepts.com)
Quality of Hire: The Next Edge in Corporate Performance, Taleo Research, 2004
Measure Up: ‘Quality’ Metrics Drive Quality Hires | 4
Carter Einhorn, Director of Recruitment for the City of Edmonton, Canada,
relies on a hiring manager survey for Edmonton’s quality scorecard. The survey
asks hiring managers to assess new employees based on factors such as their
motivation to do the work, their growth potential, the ﬁt of their skills to the
job and their personality ﬁt to the “corporate culture.”
Sixty days [is] a great
The scorecard also probes for technical skills and job knowledge; communications
point in time; it gives
you enough time to really
assess somebody and truly
understand whether it was
ability; strategic thinking and planning; guiding and managing change; managing
staff; and managing operations. A ﬁve-point rating scale is used.
Although he sometimes uses the scorecard during the recruitment process to
a quality hire or not. target quality improvement in problem areas, Einhorn typically surveys hiring
managers after a new hire has worked 60 days.
“We thought 60 days was a great point in time; it gives you enough time to
really assess somebody and truly understand whether it was a quality hire or not,”
says Einhorn. “And because our new-hire probations are generally three-to-six
months, if there’s a ‘needs improvement’ we can address that right away.”
Thus Einhorn’s survey-based scorecard does double duty – as a quality-of-hire
metric and an early-warning system for potential problem hires.
DEEP DIVES INTO THE RETENTION/ATTRITION DATA POOL
Peter V. DeBellis, a former corporate human resources executive now independently
consulting in Washington, D.C., is a fan of retention and attrition data as a
basis to measure quality-of-hire. He typically uses three time frames: hires
that last less than a year, hires that last two to four years and hires who work
for ﬁve years or more.
“As long as you are bucketing the results this way, you can get good input
to help you distinguish between the typical quality-of-hire of your different
The attrition data can tell
you there’s something you
have to do differently to
recruiting teams, or tie it back to your candidate sources,” DeBellis explains.
DeBellis favors looking at this data “in the context of your overall industry.”
He says, “If the people you hire are leaving more rapidly than the norm for
improve hire quality. your industry, there’s a strong possibility you are not hiring the right people.”
Such conclusions can help you decide what actions to take in response,
DeBellis notes. “You may have employee engagement issues; you may have
performance management issues – or maybe it just takes a certain kind of
person to hang in there and deal with your corporate culture,” he says.
“The attrition data can tell you there’s something you may have to do
differently to improve hiring quality.”
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PERFORMANCE EVALUATIONS: ANOTHER PATH TO QUALITY
Analysis of performance evaluations, promotions and high-potential programs
can help hiring managers and recruiters identify hires who have the “secret
sauce,” experts agree.
“Data from your performance management system tells recruiters where the
people they’ve hired are scoring, and performing, compared to norms and
objectives,” DeBellis says.
The goal of both attrition and performance evaluation data is to differentiate
between recruiters who are bringing in the top-quality candidates and those
who aren’t. Once you clearly identify recruiters who are consistently bringing
in high-quality hires, the opportunity is in discovering their secrets – and then
spreading the word to iteratively improve hiring quality.
MAKING HIGH-QUALITY HIRES: IT’S NO SECRET
The quality-of-hire experts interviewed for this report share several “secrets”
for achieving extremely high quality-of-hire.
The biggest of them all may be collaboration. At professional services ﬁrm
The Collective Group, teams of six to ten members make all hiring decisions.
All decisions must be unanimous, which means each member has veto power.
“When you get a room full of people debating the merits of four or ﬁve candidates,
arguing for the ones they think are best, trying to convince each other – it gets
intense,” Collective Group’s Taylor describes. “But here’s the cool part. When
you give people not just the responsibility but also the authority to actually
make the hiring decision, then the success of those decisions reﬂect on them
more than you. They instantly become responsible for that person’s success.”
The personal interdependencies thus created are a potent source of Collective’s
success in a business, Taylor says, “Where our people have to walk into a new
Don’t tell me you’ve cut company and instantly be smarter than all the IT people at that company who
1,500 trees in the past; just hired us.” Since no one person could possibly deliver on that promise,
go over there and show me Collective’s solution is, well, a collective one.
where you would make the
cut, based on where you think
the tree is diseased, dying
In the City of Edmonton, recruiters collaborate closely with hiring managers
to devise extraordinary tests for new-hire candidates. For example, arborist
candidates – who would tend to trees and shrubs – are brought to a tree in a park
or dead. and tasked to diagnose the tree and place colored ribbons at the locations
recommended for pruning.
“Don’t just tell me you’ve cut 1,500 trees in the past. Show me where you
would make the cut, based on where you think the tree is diseased, dying or
dead,” says Einhorn. “We then take a picture of that tree, and the hiring
managers evaluate the results. That’s our performance-based way of assessing
who the top performing arborists are,” he says.
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In another example, the city had a department in need of signiﬁcant reorganization.
“The old method is, ‘Tell me about a time when you reengineered a department,’”
Einhorn says. Instead, the recruiter and hiring manager wrote a scenario
describing the department, its resources and its problems. A panel of reviewers
was gathered and candidates were asked “to go up to the white board and
take us through their solution,” Einhorn explains. As at Collective, the panel
votes on who the top performers are.
The inter-departmental collaboration Einhorn describes is all the more remarkable
for the fact that all involved had to overcome cynicism and low expectations
before becoming convinced that the promised beneﬁts could really be achieved.
Both Taylor’s and Einhorn’s methods are examples of Adler’s Performance-Based
Hiring™ approach, though Einhorn follows Adler deliberately while Taylor arrived
there on his own path. The core of the approach is to “begin with clarity and
consensus on what it takes to ace the ﬁrst performance review,” Adler says.
From that deﬁnition of high performance in the job, Adler’s method next
determines the characteristics of the hire needed to achieve such performance.
Those characteristics comprise the job’s “performance proﬁle,” which Adler
uses in place of a job description.
The hiring managers clearly Adler then uses the performance proﬁle to customize a 10-factor “talent scorecard”
see how this process, and
this new method of hiring,
have increased the quality
of people we are now hiring
to the speciﬁc job/company, for use in recruitment processes (the generic version
of Adler’s scorecard is included in this white paper as an appendix).
Even with only a few months of “results” in, “Our quality-of-hire has deﬁnitely
in the city. gone up,” Einhorn says. “The hiring managers clearly see how this process,
and this new method of hiring, have increased the quality of people we are
now hiring in the city. We are getting great, great feedback from the majority
of our hiring managers,” he enthuses.
There are many proven metrics for measuring quality-of-hire, and just as many
different methodologies for achieving high-quality hires. The important thing
is to choose an approach that ﬁts your company and situation, and get started.
Jumping into quality-of-hire with both feet now will place HR and recruitment
executives among the leaders in the ﬁeld and earn them that ‘ticket to the
strategy table.’ It is, however, a fast-moving target; slower-moving trafﬁc will
get rapidly passed by.
Note: Please see the Key Takeaways on the following page for actionable
insights gleaned from this white paper.
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1. Quality-of-hire really can be measured – pick an approach and get started
2. Collaborate! With ﬁnance to develop quality-of-hire investment models,
with talent management to agree on and integrate metrics measurement,
and with hiring managers to invent brilliant hiring tactics
3. Lead! HR/recruitment executives must take responsibility for overall
quality-of-hire, despite distributed new-hire decision-making. Who else will?
4. Financial models make clear that top-third quality hires have double the
positive ﬁnancial impact on the company of bottom-third hires
5. Judge new-hire candidates based on what it takes to ace the ﬁrst performance
review – in other words, what they can do, not what they have done
6. Use hiring manager surveys to evaluate new hire quality at the 60-day mark
7. Retention/attrition and performance measurement data can reveal quality
differences among hires and recruitment teams
8. Collaborative techniques can be extremely successful at increasing hire
quality – but require extreme commitment
9. Successfully raising quality-of-hire can make HR/recruitment executives
heroes within their companies – and earn them a seat at the corporate
TheLadders is the leading recruitment solution for professional talent. With
its exclusive community of over 3.6 million pre-screened $100K+ talent
and easy-to-use tools and services to quickly surface qualiﬁed, responsive
candidates, TheLadders helps you ﬁnd the right ﬁt fast to fuel your company’s
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