Q&A with Randstad’s Graham Trevor: Part I: Building a Data-Driven HR Function

Graham Trevor is an HR director at global recruitment consultancy Randstad. He leads the UK human resource function for specialist businesses, providing best-in-class services that improve organizational performance. Here, Graham shares his insights regarding the value talent acquisition can derive from data, what to focus on and—for those not currently using data to drive their HR processes—where to begin.

Over the past five years, you’ve built a data-driven approach to recruiting from the ground up. What does your program look like today?

We measure and analyze many different data points, although, from a recruitment perspective I focus significant attention on three key performance indicators (KPIs): time to hire, source of hire and conversion ratios. Taken together, these KPIs offer a more complete picture of recruiter effectiveness because they tell me not just what the outcomes are but how people are working. Are they working at the right pace for the business and the candidate? Do they understand the best source of hire and why it’s the best source? Is there an emphasis on both quantity and quality?

Take volume for example. Some recruiters use volume to mask performance because if you deal with enough candidates then eventually you find the right person. But that is often tremendously inefficient. There’s much greater value in applying robust methodology and intellectual thinking to the recruitment process—data helps you do this by ensuring the recruiter is focused on the right activities, the candidate has a good experience, and the hiring manager is living up to the needs of the search. Data allows you to apply science to the process as opposed to relying solely on one’s intuition.

Do you attribute the same level of importance to all three KPIs?

Ultimately, time to hire is the most important because every day that you have a vacancy your company is losing money, so it’s a business metric. Time to hire shows us how quickly we’re moving candidates through the recruiting process and how responsive our hiring managers are to candidates. But it also reveals if recruiters are starting from scratch every time there’s a new opening as opposed to using GR8 People’s tools to cultivate talent pools so that they have ready-to-go candidates when a relevant job becomes available. My goal for the second half of 2019 is to roughly double the percentage of hires realized from talent pools that effectively engage and nurture candidates.

What other data points do you look at to inform your talent acquisition strategies?

With GR8 People, I have access to real-time tracking on where each opening is by recruiting funnel stage. This is important because it drives critical discussions such as how successful the recruiter was, how effective the hiring manager was and, at the end of the day, how good the candidate experience was because that reflects on our employer brand. Are there delays in the process, and if so, who or what is causing the delay? The data doesn’t lie, which means conversations are more productive and solutions are more evident.

We also analyze data points that allow us to drill down into our KPIs. Looking at outcomes by geography reveals why certain cities are harder to recruit for than others. You can do a trend analysis with the data and say, “Last year we had 10 openings in location A, and it took us an average time to hire of 45 days when it should have taken only 30 days. So, let’s be proactive and increase our advertising and talent pools in location A because we know it’s a challenging market.”

What advice do you have for organizations that want to implement a data-driven approach to recruiting?

First, start with the basics and build up from there. The detail that you can go into with regards to data and analytics is huge, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed if you try to do it all from the outset. We evolved over time, moving from basic Excel spreadsheets to complex spreadsheets to the dedicated analytics platforms and dashboards that we use today. Get a feel for it and get the businesses you partner with used to having HR data and analytics available. Then you can scale your program accordingly.

Second, you must invest in the program’s success. This includes investing both the time and the money that is required to get it right. We dedicated a lot of time to the process of identifying the best-in-class technology for our reporting because we knew it would be a big factor in our ability to realize our goals.

Finally, keep in mind that this isn’t easy, but it’s absolutely worth it. The journey may not always be comfortable for you, your talent acquisition team or your hiring managers, but it’s an incredibly rewarding journey when you begin to see results.

Make sure you check out part II of our conversation, in which Graham discusses the emerging practice of people analytics and how it’s transforming HR.