PowerSourcing The Power Scout Blog


    Why ‘more candidates’ is not the answer to faster hiring

    18 December, 2020

    How many job candidates does it take to fill a position?

    That’s a riddle that has plagued talent acquisition departments large and small since the beginning of time.

    Obviously, the answer should be “just one.” But you and I both know when that one high-caliber candidate doesn’t immediately appear, we hear “Bring me more candidates” from dissatisfied hiring managers, and we hear it often!

    Finding a near-perfect candidate efficiently and in the shortest amount of time is recruiting’s biggest challenge. It’s obvious that, no matter how many candidates we are asked to present, concentrating on quantity is a misguided approach. So why do we keep doing it?

    Quantity over Quality: 
    where today’s recruiting approach goes horribly awry

    Over the past several years, recruiting teams have been told and conditioned themselves to believe more is better for two essential reasons: how they are measured and how hiring managers and TA leaders expect their teams to perform.

    What is measured

    Think about it: if your recruiting team is like most, you track time-to-hire closely. It’s the most commonly used recruiting metric for good reason—it’s easy to measure and use to set expectations.

    But time-to-hire is not the most strategic way to look at team performance. It tells you how fast your team hires, but not how well. A recruiter who takes more time to hire 5 high performers is far more valuable than one who hires 10 poor performers quickly.

    Tactical metrics like time to submittal, time-to-hire, candidates-per-hire, or offer acceptance rate are only a starting point. They’re important for tracking the immediate actions of your recruiters. But to be a more valuable business partner, talent acquisition’s metrics should be more strategic and measure the business outcomes of the team’s efforts, not just the actions they take.

    According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Future of Recruiting report,  88% of companies believe that quality-of-hire was the most important metric for evaluating recruiting success. That’s not too surprising – after all, a quality hire is the ultimate goal in every recruiting scenario. However, only 44% actively measure quality-of-hire. That, too, is not surprising since quality-of-hire isn’t something you can immediately measure—it’s impossible to know the impact of your new hire until several months after the role is filledand most companies aren’t sure how to measure or define “quality” of the hire, although most companies use retention, engagement, and performance ratings as part of their calculations. And many companies do not set hiring manager metrics as part of the success equation.

    How we expect our teams to perform

    I recently penned a blog called “The Recruiting Blame Game,” in which I talk about some of the ways we inadvertently keep our recruiting teams from being the strategic assets they should be. If you haven’t read it, please do. Because one of the biggest reasons recruiters opt for quantity over quality is that they simply don’t want to make waves.

    When hiring managers demand “more candidates” from recruiters (and they do) it’s easier to just tell the team to comply. And why shouldn’t you? When the heat is on to fill a role (and isn’t it always?), a larger pool of applicants should provide greater opportunity to find the right fit. Shouldn’t it?

    Unfortunately, what it most often provides involves more “retracing steps,” more investment, more vetting, and more back-and-forth communication between recruiter and hiring manager to settle on requirements – all of which require a lot of time and provides little strategic value.

    Especially if you’re waiting for the right candidate to come to you!

    In a panic, a recruiter may rely on job postings to bring in more candidates. But a long-term study found job board postings led to almost 43% of initial applicants but less than 15% of eventual hires. Postings on career sites performed slightly better, leading to 32% of overall applicants and resulting in 21% of hires. However, neither method provides the kind of results recruiters need and do nothing to find passive candidates who might be the ideal fit for your role and your company’s goals.

    Bottom line, if you’re looking for a lot of applicants, job postings can get you there. If you’re looking for the right person to fill a role, they’re often a long shot.

    A more targeted, quality focused approach may take a bit longer at the outset, but will pay off with a quicker, better result.

    “Recruiters find themselves in trouble when they let urgency override importance. In recruiting, many urgent tasks steal from what is important, that is to say what is in the best interest of the organization, not just one individual customer (in this case, the hiring manager).

    “For example, by submitting fewer and more accurately-matched candidates rather than focusing on ‘sending more candidates,’ hiring managers would have more time to better understand the talent marketplace.”


    Why today’s organizations need sourcing experts

    Recruiting is evolving—and so are its defining skill sets. Instead of just sifting through applicants or using superficial attempts to find the perfect passive candidates, there is a need to have expert team members who can focus on effectively bringing candidates into the funnel and act on data-driven insights to help develop the strategy to attract and hire the best.

    Every TA leader I speak with firmly agrees that a solid sourcing strategy is key to the recruiting performance, yet these underperforming metrics still make one scratch their head and ask, why not start with sourcing?

    Your current recruiting practices might bring in a pool of the best talent available, but adding a dedicated sourcing function can open up that pool exponentially. It can bring in the kind of high-quality candidate that can have impact right way, help you plan more wisely around the organization’s talent needs, and increase the visibility and attractiveness of your employment brand.

    A talent acquisition model that is structured to attract both active and passive candidates allows you access to the best talent, rather than only the best available talent. The most successful companies understand that building relationships with the right candidates today will help them hire better talent faster tomorrow. We’ve seen firsthand how sourcing and building talent/candidate pipelines help to reduce the amount of stress they place on their recruiting teams, serve their hiring managers more strategically, and, most importantly, help candidates fall in love with their brand. That’s why organizations like Google, Apple, and Microsoft have dedicated sourcing teams, even though they receive thousands of applications every day.

    They want the best talent for their roles. Don’t you?

    When you’re ready to invest in an approach that favors quality over time, we can help. Our PowerSourcing solutions can help you find the quality talent you seek right now, as well as create the long-term pipeline of talent that allows you to meet the needs of the business—today and tomorrow.


    Patty Silbert

    President of Newton Talent since 2018, Patty Silbert has over 30 years of experience developing the innovative solutions that help HR professionals just like you meet their most pressing recruitment challenges and their companies achieve their talent acquisition goals. She is a regular writer and speaker on the subjects of recruitment strategy, employment branding, HR technology, and leadership.