28 June 2010

Linear Improvement or Quantum Leap?

How to review your 2009/10 results to provide lessons and opportunities for 2010/11 **

For most recruiters, this is the last week of the ‘old’ Financial Year. The annual fees or billings clock is just about to wind back to $0 and June 2011 seems like an eternity away.

It would be tempting to just treat this week like any other week and go about your business of calling, interviewing, visiting and filling jobs to get the scoreboard ticking over as quickly as possible.

I always found it extremely valuable to conduct a self-generated review of data from ‘the-year-that-was' to provide clarity with respect to the accomplishments and lessons of the past twelve months.

In the same way a professional athlete uses factual data and statistics rather than feelings and opinions to identify relative strengths and areas for improvement, a recruiter should also be rigourous in using relevant data to review their performance.

Consider the following 8 areas of a recruiter's performance and select those areas where the data will give you a valuable perspective on your 2009/10 year and provide some insight into where the best opportunities for improvement are in the year ahead:

1.  Target billings v Actual billings
For almost all recruiters this is the "big kahuna". Did I beat my target or not? What can I learn about the monthly or quarterly variations in my results that will assist me to improve even more this year?

2.  Average placement fee/margin
By dividing total placements into total fees (eg 31 placements generated $440k) or total billed hours into total margin (31,240 hours generated $530k) you can calculate an average placement fee ($14,194) or average hourly margin ($16.97).

What can you do to improve this average in 2010/11 (eg no discounts)?

3.  Exclusive jobs filled ratio v non-exclusive jobs filled ratio
Your job filled ratio (ie jobs filled as a ratio of total jobs worked on) is the most critical ratio to monitor over time.

Comparing your exclusive jobs filled ratio to your non-exclusive jobs filled ratio will reveal how much upside there is for you in 2010/11 if you are able to convert more non-exclusive jobs to exclusive ones.

For further reading on this topic, view my article.

4.  Total potential fees v actual fees
Add up the total fees or margin you would have generated had you filled every single job you worked on over the year.

Now compare that figure with your actual total of fees or margin for the year. The difference between the two is the total value of the work you did for a grand total of $0 (yes - zero, zilch, nada, nothing)!

After this analysis you may decide you need to sack a few "Profit Killing Clients". For further reading on this topic view my article "Profit Killers".

5.  Top 10 client list for the year (by fees/margin)
I still recall how revealing it was every time I collated this list. Frequently, my high maintenance clients (ie those who ranked in my Top 5 "Time Devoted to Them" List) didn't appear on the Top 10 fees/margin List and conversely, my low maintenance "quiet achiever" clients were much further towards the top of the List than I would have guessed.

This comparison was often the catalyst for me re-allocating my time to resist the "squeakiest-wheel-gets-the-most-oil" clients and instead, focusing back on the clients who were actually putting real profit in my pocket.

6.  Candidate sourcing effectiveness
You should be recording the source (eg ad response on Seek, referral, etc) of every single candidate you interview.

Find out how many interviewed candidates came from each source during the year and then do a further source analysis by placed candidates.

Compare these two sets of figures through the lens of the time and money cost of each sourcing method.

Make any appropriate changes to your candidate sourcing strategy for 2010/11.

7.  New client sourcing effectiveness
Review all new jobs you generated in the past 12 months.

How was each one of those jobs generated? Was it candidate-becoming-client or via a candidate reference check or a cold prospecting call or a third visit?

How much time did you spend on each different client sourcing method? Where was your time best spent in 2010/11 and where was it not?

Prospecting for new clients is never the easiest part of a recruiter's job so it is important to focus your time where you generate the best results. After doing this exercise one year, I vowed never to write another PSA proposal or tender unless it was for a client I had an existing relationship with.

My new client sourcing analysis told me I won exactly 0% of my new jobs through winning PSAs with ‘no-prior-relationship' clients.

8.  Ad writing effectiveness
Which of your ads generated the best quality ad response? Do you know why? Which of your ads generated the lowest quality ad response? Do you know why?

Recruitment ad writing is generally of a shocking standard. It doesn't take much to write an ad that's better than 95% of competing ads - you just need to know what works and what doesn't in attracting your target candidate market.

If you don't know, find out, fast.

Most recruiters improve in a linear fashion. In other words they do, more or less, what they have always done and their result goes up 10%-15% annually which reflects that they are a little bit better than the previous year.

Nothing terrible about a 10%-15% improvement except much more is possible if the recruiter is interested in doing some rigourous analysis and acting on what they discover.

The high performing recruiter looks for where they can gain a 20%-50% performance increase (quantum leap). To gain this sort of improvement they know that statistics don't lie, so they invest two to three hours in collating and analysing the previous twelve months' data to identify:
  • what they will keep doing
  • what they will do more of
  • what they will stop doing
  • what they will do less of
  • what will they start doing
The action you take (or don't take) in the next week to review your 2009/10 results will probably have a big impact on whether 2010/11 is likely to be a ‘break out’ year for you.

Do you want your 2010/11 results to be a linear improvement compared to 2009/10 or a quantum leap?

** this article is an edited and updated version of an article that was first published in InSight 39

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