How to Recruit on the Right Foot

The hallmark of a successful recruitment process is the immediate impact of the new hires it brings into the organization.

That’s according to a recent global study of 1,589 HR professionals conducted by Futurestep North America, a recruitment consultancy and division of talent management company Korn/Ferry International.

Two-thirds of respondents (67 percent) ranked new hire performance as the most or second-most important measure of success, followed by retention (35 percent) and line manager satisfaction (29 percent).

“Part of that has to do with the fact that the market moves so fast today,” said Bill Sebra, president of Futurestep North America. “When individuals get into an organization today, they really have to have a strong impact on that organization quickly.”

Traditional recruitment metrics such as cost per hire (27 percent) and time to hire (18 percent) were rated less important.

Measuring New Hires
According to the survey, the majority of organizations (76 percent) measure the impact of their new hires within the first year. In addition to performance data, which was cited by 64 percent of respondents, organizations measure new hires’ revenue/financial performance (46 percent), retention (35 percent), promotion (31 percent) and ability to recruit others (20 percent).

While the metrics are relatively clear, when to measure is more difficult to answer. Thirty-five percent of respondents reported they measure new hires before they expect them to have their greatest impact. The right decision is dependent on the type of business you are in and the type of role you’re hiring for, Sebra said.

“Impact from a sales perspective has always been a little bit faster than someone who is coming into an engineering role or someone that is coming into a product development role,” he said.

In general, the six-month mark is a pretty good starting point, Sebra said, but some roles may require up to a year for expected impact. At that point, good hires will shine and bad ones will be apparent.

“The first year is really the most important year for someone,” he said. “It sets the tone for how this person is going to perform over time.”

Measurement also plays a role in better management of new hires. People are moving through the ranks from individual contributor to manager much faster, Sebra said, and having the right developmental tools aligned to performance measurement helps them stay on track and move faster toward their individual goals.

“[It] helps to build engagement and brings a level of clarity to what I need to do as an individual to achieve the overall business objectives,” he said.

Throw Out Your Outdated Model
So what should recruiters be looking for in new hires who deliver immediate impact? Competencies most positively impacting the first six months include quality decision making, action orientation, customer focus, drive for results, creativity, command skills, integrity and trust, ability to motivate others and perseverance.

Sebra recommended that organizations look for learning agility and find a person with the “right DNA” for long-term growth. The market moves very quickly and it’s not uncommon for business strategy to shift three or four times within the year it takes for new hires to have impact.

“They have to be learning agile to catch up to where the business is going,” he said. “I don’t know that a lot of the talent folks are thinking about it that way.”

Too many organizations are using an outdated requisition-centric paradigm based on posting an open position and waiting for applicants that fails to bring the right talent into the business. They need to shift to an applicant-centric model that takes a broader look at skills, abilities and potential, Sebra said.

“We need to be able to take that person — whoever that individual is — figure out what their core capabilities and skills are and then figure out where they fit best to drive the enterprise forward,” he said. “It has nothing to do with a requisition. It has everything to do with that person and what that talent can do for the enterprise.”

Mike Prokopeak is the editorial director at Talent Management magazine. He can be reached at