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4 High-Value Recruitment Metrics for Comprehensive Evaluation of Your Recruiting Efforts

Besides common metrics for gauging recruitment, these metrics are essential to track real success.

Trent Cotton
HR and Recruitment Industry Leader, Vice President of Talent and Culture at Hatchworks
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Attracting and hiring the right candidate for each role is not just beneficial, but critical for any organization's success. Effective recruitment is a complex process that goes beyond just filling open positions; it is about hiring candidates who will contribute positively to the organization's culture and goals. To streamline this process and make data-driven decisions, recruitment metrics have become indispensable.

This article aims to delve deep into what makes for successful recruitment, common recruitment metrics usually examined, and why these conventional metrics might not tell the whole story. We will also explore some high-value recruitment metrics that can provide a more comprehensive understanding of your recruitment process.

In This Article

What Does Successful Recruitment Look Like?

Successful recruitment isn't just about filling vacancies. It's a more nuanced process.

It involves attracting high-quality candidates but also efficiently moving them through the recruitment pipeline and application process to a fruitful onboarding. Success can manifest in various forms such as a high number of applicants (that are qualified candidates), reduced time to fill a position, lower turnover rates among new hires, and positive feedback from hiring managers about the performance of newly recruited employees.

An organization should aim for a holistic recruitment strategy that aligns with its broader business goals. Essentially, the objective is to build a skilled, diverse, and engaged workforce that can contribute to the organization’s success in the long term— and to do so at reasonable recruiting costs that yield a return on investment in the form of quality candidates and high hiring manager satisfaction.

One key component in the arsenal of success for any organization is to find and acquire the best recruiting software. As Generative AI becomes more comprehensive and permeates more facets of recruitment, it is also important that recruiting organizations embrace the benefits of AI in recruitment. Besides the time-saving and efficiency these tools provide, they also accurately track recruitment metrics that will tell you where your hiring process needs attention.

A recruiting tracking the success of her recruiting efforts by reviewing key recruitment metrics.

Common Recruitment Metrics We All Look At

Recruitment metrics (also called recruiting and hiring metrics) are numerical or categorical data points used to assess the efficiency, performance, and results of recruitment efforts. They serve as key performance indicators (KPIs) that talent acquisition teams can use to optimize their strategies and processes. According to recent recruitment and hiring trends, the focus on urgent fills in key sectors experiencing labor shortages will only continue to increase as companies battle for top talent in the market.

So, key recruitment metrics serve as quantifiable measures to evaluate the efficacy of recruitment strategies, thereby helping to enhance the overall hiring process, but do they tell a holistic story?

Time to Fill or Time to Hire

One of the most straightforward recruitment metrics, 'Time to Fill' measures the number of days it takes to attract job seekers, screen and vet candidates, and ultimately fill an open role. A shorter average time to fill is generally preferred as it minimizes productivity loss due to vacant roles.

While this is one of the mainstays of recruitment metrics, it is not as impactful as many organizations think. Some of the key reasons time to fill is an ineffective metric include:

  1. Lack of Control: Recruiting teams don't have full control over this metric. About 80% of the time, roles remain open longer due to delays from the hiring team, not the recruiters.
  2. Lagging Measure: This metric is retrospective, meaning it provides information only after events have occurred. This makes it less useful for real-time decision-making.
  3. Complicated Calculation: To get an accurate "Time to Fill" measure, one would have to account for various factors such as weekends, holidays, and periods when the job posting was on hold, making the metric less straightforward to use. Offer acceptance rate also plays a role here. A recruiter may bring great talent to the organization at a highly efficient rate but then lack the resources to make a competitive job offer that gets accepted.
  4. High Variance: The metric can fluctuate widely from month to month, making it unreliable as a consistent measure of performance.

Number of Hires

This is a simple count of the total number of new employees who have been successfully recruited over a given period. This metric is vital for understanding hiring velocity and whether the recruitment team is meeting its objectives.

The metric is basic and does not provide you a true line of sight on velocity unless you track the projected number of hires sprint over sprint. It is also another lagging metric that recruiting organizations have little to no control over without also considering the leading metrics affecting the number of hires.

For example, a low number of hires could point to a bottleneck in the middle of the hiring process or a problem with sourcing channels. Perhaps the channel effectiveness is poor, yielding unsuitable job applications that lead to a low conversion rate of qualified candidates who enter the interview process.

Number of Open Roles

The number of open roles at any given time gives a snapshot of the hiring load and can be a starting point for allocating recruitment resources.

However, this metric can carry different implications depending on the context within which it's viewed. For example, a high number of open roles might indicate rapid organizational growth, which is generally positive. On the flip side, it could also point to high turnover rates (low employee retention rates), which is a cause for concern and warrants an investigation into employee satisfaction and retention strategies.

Moreover, understanding the types of roles that are open— be they entry-level positions, mid-level management, or senior leadership— can offer insights into the organizational needs and the kind of talent acquisition strategies required. Are you in need of more technical skills, or is there a leadership gap that needs filling?

Additionally, when viewed alongside other metrics like a “Hire Ratio’ or 'Time to Fill,' the number of open roles can offer a more nuanced understanding of the efficiency and effectiveness of your recruitment process.

So, while the number of open roles is a straightforward metric, its true value lies in its ability to act as a lens through which more complex organizational trends and needs can be assessed.

Why Common Recruitment Metrics Don't Tell the Whole Story

While the above metrics provide a snapshot of recruitment activities, they often don’t give a comprehensive view of the effectiveness of your recruitment process.

For instance, a short 'Time to Fill' might indicate efficiency but doesn’t necessarily reflect the quality of hires made. If you shorten the time to fill but your quick quit rate (number of hires who quit within X number of days) increases, you're effectively taking less time to find the wrong person.

Focusing solely on these conventional metrics can drive short-term behavior that may not align with long-term organizational objectives. The shortsighted nature of the more traditional metrics can render a recruiting organization ineffective in today's challenging and complicated talent market.

High-Value Recruitment Metrics

To be fair, things like ‘Time to Fill’, ‘Number of Hires’, and ‘First Year Attrition’ are all good to track. However, I recommend also looking at these important recruiting metrics for a more holistic perspective on your recruitment success:

Average Days Open

This measures the average number of days a role stays open. Unlike 'Time to Fill,' which focuses on the amount of time it takes to fill individual roles, this metric offers a more general view of how efficiently the recruitment process is functioning over time.

It is a more impactful metric because it allows recruiting leaders to focus on how to drive the number down with leading activities like recruiter workload, sourcing plans, etc. I like this metric because it is more controllable than time to fill.

One helpful way to display this metric is by categorizing jobs into groups based on the number of days open. I like to use the following:

  1. Less than 30 days
  2. 31-45 days
  3. More than 45 days

Displaying this information in a pie chart shows how many positions you have in each category, providing a more accurate view of performance. Here's an example:

A pie chart showing the average days open for roles assigned to a recruitment firm.

Upon examining this example, it's evident that my average "days open" for positions is on the higher side. This becomes clear when I see that a quarter of these positions have been open for over 45 days. Delving deeper into this 25%, I find that four roles have remained unfilled for more than six months.

As someone responsible for talent acquisition, these are the roles I need to scrutinize further. Questions like "Is this role crucial enough to be filled?", "Does the client see value in filling this position?", and "Can I assist my team in optimizing the candidate search?" are pertinent at this point. At the very least, it's time for a frank discussion with the client about the future of these positions.

On the other hand, if I'm recruiting for a sales organization, the metrics show that 66% of the roles have been open for less than 30 days. This suggests that I'm not adversely affecting the company's revenue goals—at least not yet. If I work in a staffing agency that places contractors, it's important to remember that each passing day equates to lost revenue. These metrics serve as a crucial guide, helping me identify the key actions I need to take to ensure that the recruiting process aligns with our revenue targets.

Candidate Experience Scores

This involves surveying candidates about their experience during the recruitment process to determine an overall ‘Candidate Net Promoter Score. This metric can offer valuable insights into what is working well and what needs improvement, directly affecting the quality of applicants and the employer brand.

This recruitment metric is vital to understanding what candidates experience during the application submission and recruiting process. The feedback scores on each stage along with the free text comments can give leaders unique insights into pain points to solve for. I have worked with several organizations on this type of process and can attest to the impactful insights garnered during the review process.

Without this key metric, organizations often struggle to understand why candidates drop out of the application process or why they never enter it to begin with. Keeping a pulse on your candidate experience will only enhance your ability to attract the top talent in the market.

Candidate Funnel Statistics

This dives deeper into the various stages of the recruitment funnel, examining how many candidates move from one stage to the next. It can identify bottlenecks in the process by looking at it as a whole, enabling more targeted improvements.

At the start of each week, I like to get a snapshot of how many candidates we have at each stage in our hiring process and the rate of conversion— from ‘Application Completion Rate’ to ‘Offers made”. In our Sprint Recruiting model, we run two-week cycles focusing on a set number of high-priority roles, which our clients have scored based on importance. These points guide our recruiters on where to concentrate their sourcing and recruiting muscle.

The section that shows the number of candidates at each stage serves as my weekly health check. All this data flows from a Google Sheet that the team uses to keep tabs on job openings and other key metrics specific to Sprint Recruiting.

As a talent leader, I use these insights to determine who on my team might need help. I zoom in on any bottlenecks I could clear to speed things along. No matter what the issue is, this snapshot helps me quickly pinpoint where I should be focusing my efforts, both as an individual recruiter and as the manager overseeing the whole operation.

Average Reply Rate

The 'Average Reply Rate’ is one of my favorite recruitment metrics. It measures the percentage of responses received from outreach efforts, such as emails or calls to potential candidates.

While this metric may seem straightforward, it serves as an excellent barometer for gauging the attractiveness of your employer brand and the relevance of your communication strategies. A high average reply rate usually signifies that your messages are resonating with prospective candidates, thereby suggesting that your employer value proposition is strong and appealing.

However, context matters significantly when interpreting this metric. For instance, a low reply rate doesn’t necessarily mean disinterest; it might indicate that the mode or timing of communication needs revisiting. It could also mean that the message content isn't compelling or clear enough for potential candidates to take action. Furthermore, different roles and industries may have varying benchmarks for a 'good' average reply rate. Understanding the nuances within your specific industry can help set realistic goals and devise actionable strategies to improve engagement.

If you find yourself out of your depth in this area, I would encourage you to enlist the help of your marketing professionals. They tend to live and breathe these metrics and can help provide you with the necessary analysis and guidance to increase the average reply rate.

A venn diagram showing the overlap between an organization's marketing department and human resources.

While ‘Average Reply Rate’ is a crucial metric, its significance can be fully appreciated only when analyzed in context with other key recruitment metrics and industry-specific variables.


In today's data-driven world, relying solely on traditional recruitment metrics such as 'Time to Fill,' 'Number of Hires,' and 'Number of Open Roles' will not suffice for a truly effective recruitment strategy. Sure, these metrics offer valuable information, but they need to be coupled with high-value metrics to provide a well-rounded view of the recruitment process.

Understanding and utilizing a broader range of recruitment metrics can make the difference between a good hiring process and a great one. Adopting a holistic approach to recruitment metrics not only improves efficiency but also ensures that you are attracting, selecting, and retaining the best candidates for your organization— talent that aligns well with your culture and long-term objectives.

Trent Cotton
HR and Recruitment Industry Leader, Vice President of Talent and Culture at Hatchworks
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Trent Cotton is a highly accomplished leader and strategist with extensive experience in organizational development, talent management, and business operations. With a strong background in HR leadership, he has a proven track record of designing and implementing innovative HR programs that drive employee engagement, retention, and business performance.

As an experienced executive, Trent has worked with some of the world's leading companies, where he has led and supported HR initiatives across a broad range of functions, including talent acquisition, workforce planning, diversity and inclusion, performance management, and employee relations. He is also highly skilled in HR technology implementation, data analytics, and HR process improvement, helping organizations to optimize their HR operations and drive business results.

If you follow his blog or have read his book, Sprint Recruiting, you would experience his raw communication style, his ability to build and lead high-performing teams, and his strategic mindset. He is passionate about creating workplaces where employees can thrive and grow, and he is committed to helping organizations leverage the power of their people to achieve their business objectives.

In addition to his professional experience, Trent is actively involved in his community and has served on several boards and committees supporting education, workforce development, and diversity initiatives.

Also featured on: Recruit CRM, Visier, and HatchWorks

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