Count More With Feeling

by Madeline Courvisanos on November 4, 2011 · 6 comments

[This is a guest post from Madeline Courvisanos, sourcing specialist at Quest Research and co-organiser of the latest sourcing networking drinks]


“I ‘ave nuzing to count! And I wanted to count zo badly! Zis eez very frustrating. Frustrating is a feeling. Dat is one feeling – I counted a feeling!” Count von Count

A hot topic in Australian sourcing this year has been the issue of analytics. Also known as metrics. Or measurements. Or ROI. Basically, sourcers have felt the pressure to start counting. Count something – anything - seems to be the consensus in local and international discourse (see most recently Shally Steckerl’s presentation at SourceCon). Suddenly, we are like Sesame St’s Count von Count looking for something to count, reduced to counting the intangible.

But the panel discussion at Sydney’s second (and newly named!) Source Club last Wednesday night, shows a growing understanding and sophistication in approaching measuring what we do and the information we collect. The panel comprised of Skye Cracknell from HRX and James Griffin of SR7, who joined Andrea Mitchell to discuss this issue.

Why are you measuring… and for whom?

Sourcers are hired by organisations looking for that elusive competitive edge. And as we all know, the only thing that such organisations like more than a power point is stats. Preferably percentages. Preferably percentages accompanied by an infographic.

Power Point Percentage Pressure is one reason sourcers are scrambling to come up with some numbers to justify their existence. As Skye pointed out, however, standard recruitment measures, such as number of placements or even cost per hire, will always see sourcers at an unfair disadvantage due to the time frames involved in sourcing for niche/hard-to-fill/future roles. In setting up a new sourcing function, Skye has instead focused on a gradual program of proving the value of her team through a mix of “quick wins” and long-term strategy. This process is one of educating the client as to the less tangible (but value- adding) potential of sourcing in the long term, through tangible short term gains.

But pressure to measure is not just from the execs, but also from within. How are we performing? As a team? As an industry? As Andrea noted in last week’s post, we need a yardstick to improve our own performances.

So what should we measure?

Internal measures: These are measures we apply to ourselves to improve performance. Skye strongly rebutted the idea of old-school recruitment targets eg 20 phone calls, 5 meetings, 2 placements etc, which she branded as simply “bad management”. KPIs should instead be goals, not numbers (See this article for a similar frustration with simplistic KPIs in the public service). They should motivate and develop employees professionally and personally.
External measures: These are focused on justifying your team’s existence or convincing your client of your value. Our panelists suggested:

  • Database activity
  • Increases in capability
  • Feedback from candidates or clients
  • Influencer/competitor activity

Don’t underestimate the value of qualitative data

Essentially, gathering qualitative data is what we do. Finding talent and market intelligence are qualitative activities and it thus makes sense to report these findings in qualitative form. James noted the increasing sophistication of social media analytics (and clients who seek them) in moving beyond counting traffic or numbers of ‘likes’ to truly listening to social dialogue to change company marketing, branding and recruitment strategies. He emphasized “context over Klout” (read this), because ultimately we have been employed to collate qualitative data, filter it, and render it usable through placements, relationships and intelligence. So don’t undersell this valuable data to your boss or clients – this is what they needed after all.

Finallllllllly…

Check your data

Cross reference qualitative and quantitative data or you will render your work useless. People lie, especially when it comes to their careers. They even lie on LinkedIn, as James quite rightly pointed out. This actually came as a surprise to some of us – what a sweet bunch we are!

At November’s Source Club we will look back at what has been a bumper year for sourcing. Rumour has it there may also be karaoke… Our panel will focus on Candidate Engagement – or how not to be awkward on the phone and get your emails returned. This is a session you can even bring your recruitment or sales friends to, there will be valuable tips for everyone. Register Here

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