Do you use vanity metrics to measure recruitment?

Posted September 29, 2016 by


Do you know the difference between “vanity metrics” and “business metrics?” Many people assume they do, but oftentimes they don’t.

Vanity metrics are aspects of a business we track because the numbers are larger or more impressive, and it sounds better to present them to our bosses and other stakeholders.

Examples of vanity metrics 

  • Impressions
  • Out-of-context attendance figures
  • Pageviews
  • Any number that sounds or looks good on a PowerPoint

Contrast that with business metrics, which are slices of data that really explain how your business is performing. In retail, for example, this is traditionally something like revenue per square foot. In college recruiting, it might be percentage of interns converted, a diversity metric indicating a balanced recruiting cycle, or cost per quality hire. These pockets of information can more directly be tied to the success of what you’re doing, bottom-line or otherwise.

Also read: Effectiveness of job boards vs. social media

Many companies confuse vanity metrics and business metrics, and this leads to suspect ROI. You’ve probably sat in a meeting and presented some big, impressive-looking numbers — only to have a senior leader ask “Well, why is performance down?” You stumble a bit and can’t answer. “But the metrics look good…”

They actually don’t, because they’re not tied to the right outcomes.

[White paper] Sourcing and evaluation: Employers’ flawed assumptions and how mobile recruiting changes everything

Consider how this might look in college relations programs. You might track something like “number of students in the hiring funnel,” which is ultimately a vanity metric — it doesn’t necessarily point to the quality of potential hires. Rather, you could track quality of hire per school you work with; this would help you identify relationships to cease over time, which will help you cut recruiting costs. In this context, one is a vanity metric (it’s tracked because a big number sounds good) and one is a business metric (it helps you make strategic decisions about your processes). 

PONDER THIS: If you’re like most employers, you need about 10 candidates visiting your career site to receive just one application, and you receive about 5-50 applications per hire. That means you need 50-500 apply clicks per hire. Would it make sense to learn how College Recruiter guarantees the quantity and quality you need?


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Posted in Advice for Employers and Recruiters | Tagged Tagged , , , , ,