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Beyond the basics…

Tags: Topical

When  I worked as a recruitment consultant one of our managers was fond of saying “it only takes one candidate to fill a job” and although after hearing it for the umpteenth time I did consider sliding off my shoe and hitting him with it, he was right.

Of course we still had to manage the process and expectations of all the candidates who ‘walked through the door’ even if we didn’t have and may never have the right job for them.

The x-factor between those consultants who did well and those who didn’t was in part their ability to manage those who applied when we had nothing for them but would at some point. When that perfect job came in they’d done a good job at ‘keeping them warm’ so these candidates were good to go. They had honestly and pragmatically communicated with them to ensure when the perfect job appeared they were not only engaged enough to apply but more engaged than the average bear because of the relationship that had been built.

This got me thinking about the way internal recruiters sometimes measure their performance – the classic measure of cost per hire. In doing this some overlook the cost per acquisition i.e.  how much does it cost to attract every applicant irrespective of outcome. So I did some sums – simple sums!

An example (with numbers rigged to help the subtraction!)

  • You spend £8000 per month on attraction (SEO, job boards, jobs fairs, social activity, campus etc)
  • You attract 1000 applicants
  • You hire 40 people


  • Your cost per hire is £200 (if you only took the attraction costs)
  • Your cost per acqusition is £8 per applicant
  • You spent (on average) £320 per successful applicant*
  • You spent £7680 on unsuccessful applicants

*I understand averaging this number skews it but I’m making a point!

Having read the numbers ask yourself these questions:

  • How many applicants only ever apply for one job in your organisation?
  • How many hires do you pay to source multiple times?
  • Are all the people your business needs actually ALREADY in your process somewhere?
  • What impact is their dormancy having on your employer and business brand?
  • Can you access the data to answer these questions?

I would suggest that the answers given to the questions above would be based on gut feel as opposed to any evidential data. But don’t sweat it – most organisations can’t answer the question – they currently don’t have the tools which can give them granularity of records.

I have clearly simplified a complex subject matter but I am interested to hear your views…

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