The Suckiness of Phone Time Reports

phone-timeRecruiters have lots of metrics that they are measured on, but the most worthless of them all is the Phone Time Report. This is the report that shows how much time a recruiter spends on the phone each day/week/month. Some live by this report, and for the life of me, I just can’t see why. It is filled with abuses and does not accurately reflect the production level or successes of a recruiter. I first become familiar with the Phone Time Report several years ago as I had a new VP who thought this was a vital measurement of the success or failure of our recruiters. We would have team meetings and emails and conversations about how THIS was the key indicator of recruiting greatness, or recruiting slothfulness. Our executive team touted it, therefore our Directors touted it, therefore our Team Leads touted it. Some of our recruiters really began to focus their attention on getting their name on the leaderboard of the Phone Time Report. I was not one of these recruiters….I wanted to be on the top of another leaderboard – the Who Filled the Most Jobs leaderboard. One day, our VP called me into his office and said, “Doug, I was going over the Phone Time Report and I see that you have the lowest phone time of all of our recruiters.” He looked up at me with the anticipation of an answer. I obliged by saying, “Yes.” I then asked him a question. I said, “If you have that report, then I’m assuming that you also have a report that shows who has filled the most jobs, right?” He said that he did. So I asked him to pull up that report…he did. I asked, “Whose name is at the top of that report?” He replied, “Your name is. How do you explain that?” I explained to my VP that it wasn’t about who talked to the most people or who spent the most time talking to people, but that what mattered is talking to the right people. If you talk to the right people, then you don’t have to talk to as many people in order to fill the job. I went on to explain that some recruiters take the approach that they will speak with anyone in the hopes that there will be enough there to move forward with a candidate, but that I took a different approach. I only spoke with people that I knew were a fit for the job and the purpose of my call was to verify what I believed to be true about the candidate and to see if any surprises came up that would keep me from moving forward with a candidate. I also explained that I could get my name on the top of that Phone Time Report if I did as others in the office and called into webcasts and then muted my phone and left for lunch so my phone minutes would be racking up while I was down the street eating a cheeseburger. Or I could add some minutes by chit-chatting it up with every candidate that I call and stretch those calls out as long as possible. I could call a bunch of wrong candidates and add a lot of time to my meter that way too. OR – I could just keep doing what I was doing and fill the jobs so we could get paid. I was never asked about the Phone Time Report again after that conversation. The better metrics for measuring the productivity and success of a recruiter would be:

  • Number of total days open
  • Number of candidates screened vs submitted
  • Number of candidates submitted vs number interviewed
  • Number of interviews to make a hire

These metrics will tell you if the recruiter is on the same page as the hiring manager and if they are talking to the right people. If these numbers are out of whack, then either the recruiter didn’t understand the position, there was a misunderstanding between the hiring manager and the recruiter, or the hiring manager doesn’t really know what he/she is looking for an needs some assistance from HR.

Obviously, a good recruiter is going to have to be on the phone. It’s a requirement of the job and necessary to move things along. However, telling me how much time someone has spent on the phone doesn’t tell me if they are successful or not.


3 responses to “The Suckiness of Phone Time Reports

  1. Hey Doug, it’s your new friend Dave. Early in my career, I worked at a start-up staffing firm that utilized similar metrics, including number of dials along with phone time. There were members of the recruiting team that would actually call their home numbers to leave messages. They would also share numbers that were disconnected. They would call these numbers numerous times each day and actually talk as if they were leaving a message. Talk about non-productive…I did not stay at this employer very long.
    With regards to metrics, what you had listed are good, but pipeline development is also a good one. It can be measured by the number of potential candidates the recruiter has developed relationships with for key strategic positions. It is also important to measure manager and candidate satisfaction of the recruiting process. All of this data can be managed through an effective ATS system.These qualitative metrics will more often illustrate causes, and not just the symptoms, of the issues within the recruitment process.

    • Good points…the client or hiring manager satisfaction can partly be measured by seeing the percentage of candidates presented that are interviewed, how many it took to get the hire, etc.

      I also emphasize pipeline building instead of just in time…and I believe it is possible for any position.

      Thanks for the strong points Dave.

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