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The Good Recruitment Benchmark is neither good, nor a benchmark.

A recruitment benchmark is something this industry really needs and has been crying out for for years. It’s something that CIOs, CEOs and HRDs can genuinely measure the performance of their talent acquisition against. It’s something that will help them in their decisions around workforce planning, and the future of their business. To help them move recruitment from a transactional, to a strategic function.

This is exactly what the Good Recruitment Benchmark, championed by the REC, is looking to do. It claims to “enable organisations to effectively benchmark their performance against their peers in a rigorous, objective and confidential way.”

The problem is, the Good Recruitment Benchmark won’t do any of that.

What do I mean by this? Well firstly, this isn’t a cold data exercise. Participants are asked to submit their own data; and no matter how much you encourage people to submit true data, it will always be slightly manipulated. Imagine asking a gambler how much money he lost. Are you going to get the exact figure first time? No! You’ll have to constantly interrogate the data until you get to the real truth.

In our business, we audit massive recruitment functions, and we have never been given raw, uninterpreted data. Not once. We often find that data has been edited to tell a better story. So they’ve taken out data about those difficult to fill roles – those outlying data points that massively affect the average. But if you’re going to have true insight, then you have to include those roles. And if you’re going to create a benchmark based on that data then it’s imperative that those roles are included, and self-submitted data won’t include them.

Plus, some of the data the benchmark is collecting is not even objective data. The sample questions the Good Recruitment Benchmark provides ask participants to rate themselves on how well they do recruitment, not based on hard evidence, but on intuition. So, this benchmark is going to be a collection of anecdotal evidence that’s given validation and sold as fact. In reality, this isn’t a benchmark against how your peers are doing, it’s a benchmark against what your peers say they’re doing. It’s about as scientific as a twitter poll.

What’s more, they’re not even asking for the right data. This is just going to be another lukewarm data exercise that justifies recruitment’s existence. It’s not going to provide any insight, it’ll just be a dashboard. Because those submitting data, whether that’s RPO providers, internal recruitment functions of PSL preferred suppliers will all be submitting data about how well they’re doing. It’s like asking a bank which bank does the best mortgage, they’re all going to say themselves!

Furthermore, this benchmark won’t drive any thought towards making recruitment better. The sample questions are about what recruitment is currently doing in your business, and not what it should be doing. It’s not talking about the future, it’s talking about the present. And recruitment is the function in your business that fundamentally has to think long term. Recruitment leaders have to think about what their business is going to need 10 years from now, so why are they all so fixated on justifying the present? This is all the benchmark is going to do, and it’s not good enough.

The Good Recruitment Benchmark is a dangerous exercise in lazy data. It’s just a collection of flawed data, and flawed data will never equal truth. Plus, the volume of participation is going to give this flawed data validation. And the fact that the REC has stamped it’s logo on it gives it even more validation, which is, frankly, irresponsible. It’s not going to be an accurate benchmark, nor is it going to show what “good” recruitment is. It’s just a collection of mistruths at scale, but a lie at scale is still not a truth.

So, I invite the REC to come and have a look at the talent reviews that we do. We’re not saying that we have the answer, but we’re not telling everyone we do. What we do have is insight into how we can get this right, how to get the data that this industry needs to provide a genuine benchmark. You shouldn’t just be putting your name to something because it’s the best thing out there, you have a responsibility to get this right.

 

This article was originally published on LinkedIn by RTM’s Managing Director, Graeme Paxton.

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