Why Your KPIs are Outdated

‘Key Performance Indicators’ in recruitment are there for a reason. That reason is to indicate the performance of an individual.

On an overwhelming basis, the best indicator for performance is the financial information on the sales board.

Some recruitment companies will have certain KPIs that are regimented and universal to every consultant in the company. This is possibly the least strategic sales approach going in the recruitment industry today.

If you’ve just joined a new company, changed markets or are in the throes of setting up a new desk – and therefore can’t be judged on sales alone – then KPIs serve as a good report for basic activity. But only, if they’re channelled in a way that suits the activity you’re tasking yourself with.

For example, a niche specialist operating in a small candidate pool with a well mapped out market, won’t be able to add hundreds of candidates to a database in a month.

An executive search consultant placing C-level and above candidates into strategy firm, won’t be making 100 calls a day.

Someone setting up a new market should be heavily targeted towards Business Development, and won’t necessarily send the same amount of CVs or get as many interviews as a colleague on a warm and established desk.

If you’re working for a company where your KPIs are the same as someone in a different market, specialism or desk maturity. Ask yourself (and your manager) why?


If you have KPIs which are suited to your current desk and tailored in a way to benefit your business, you should be hitting the activity levels as standard. They’ll have been designed to bring success and serve as a ‘best practice’ guide. Just in case you still haven’t grasped what you’re supposed to be doing with your week.

Tip: Your KPIs and Day Plan should align quite closely, if not be the same thing.

Most recruitment leaders will say KPIs are the basic level of activity. They’ll also say that successful recruiters are successful because they do these basics every month.

You’ll probably find however, that most experienced recruiters don’t even think about KPIs. They’re intrinsic to the way they work, and are never left thinking about adding to KPIs to the system after the week’s done.

The reason they do their KPIs is because that’s how they work.

Not just so the report doesn’t get them into trouble come review day.

When having a bad day, the metrics gained from being productive are something to fall back on. Equally, if there’s clear effort being shown from your working week, very few businesses will look to cut ties with a consultant whose KPIs are spot on.



The negative side of KPIs comes to the fore when they’re a distraction from the working week. Or worst case a distraction to anything that brings true value to your efforts. Like placing candidates for example.

Staying for two hours on a Friday to add irrelevant and meaningless contacts to a database, or making calls for the sake of making your targeted phone time in a day is a practice that’s not only archaic, but will be costing you and your employer money.

This is where some recruitment companies fall down on KPIs.

Phone time does not equal success.

It may be that if you’re successful, you spend a long time on the phone, but that will depend on your job, the day, the market, your focus and much more.

You could quite easily be doing something beneficial with that call time that may add more value.

Such as going to a networking event with professionals from your industry. It might not count towards your activity reported by the KPI document, but it will definitely add to your value as a recruiter in the eyes of the people that matter more than your boss.

Some employers will reproach a consultant who hasn’t hit their KPIs but consistently hits target and bills well.

Once again, this is massively counter productive.

If the reason for KPIs is to show activity instead of billings OR to show a consultant how to bill, the standpoint taken by managers with this attitude is pretty idiotic. All that will happen, is the alienation of staff and potential loss of revenue from a Consultant that clearly knows what they’re doing.

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It’s incredibly difficult to perform a health check on your recruitment career, if you’ve got no data to measure. That’s why KPIs are important. The reason many Consultants probably fail to record KPIs is that it’s possible to perform an activity without it being automatically recorded. It means you have to do a job twice and is hardly the most productive of practices.

The key is a tailored approach with an emphasis on quality.

Many KPI driven companies don’t follow this path.

A long phone call is no indication whatsoever of a good phone call. Anyone can spend 3 hours on the phone in a day. Unless the call is of high quality, pertinent and constructive to the situation it’s 3 hours wasted by a Recruiter, and money wasted rather than gained.

Every Consultant should be sticking to basic principles of KPIs that are tailored to their situation and monitored.

In most cases they should be reverse engineered.

If you feel like you have two jobs (making placements and making KPIs) it’s likely your KPIs are no indication of the performance that’s key to you being successful in recruitment.

It doesn’t have to be that way.