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By Jeff Wach, SPHR, SHRM-SCP

KPIs and Job Descriptions

I’ve talked about bringing Key Performance Indicators (KPI) from a job description to the beginning of the recruiting process. Why the beginning?

In “Alice in Wonderland”, Alice receives some unusual but wise advice from the Cheshire Cat: “If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there”. Likewise, if you don’t define success in a given role, then any candidate can fill it.

How Recruitment is like Buying a Car

To illustrate how KPI works….

Think back to the last car you bought. You had a list of needs and wants. You also had performance expectations, or KPI, in mind. Things like speed, handling, towing capacity, or gas mileage.

For example, if towing capacity was on your list, you might look for a pick-up truck. But if gas mileage was important, you would need something a bit smaller. So let’s say MPG is going to be your KPI. But that’s not enough. You also need a minimum level of performance to look for. The KPI is how we measure, but we need an acceptable minimum. A passing grade.

You do your calculations and determine that 25 MPG is your minimum standard. Great! Let’s go shopping! You find a car and ask the dealer what the MPG is. And he says “I dunno.” “What?” you say.

“Well, it should be able to get about 25 MPG.” Replies the dealer. “What do you mean should?” you reply. “Well, based on the size of the engine and the weight of the car, it should be able to get about 25 MPG. Why? What’s the problem?”

Would you buy that car? Of course not! Who would spend $20,000 or $30,000 on something that should perform? But that is exactly what we do every time we hire someone based solely on a resume. You see – the resume tells us they should be able to do the job. It tells us if they have the potential to be successful. But how many people are let go that should have been able to succeed? People that should have been able to do the job?

Let’s go back to the car.

How Potential is Different from Proven Results

What if the car salesman said, “Based on extensive research, this car has been tested and proven to achieve an average of 27.3 MPG.” Now we have a match. Now we know that the car has been tested and proven to meet our criteria!

So while a resume tells us they have the potential to be successful, the KPI gives us precise measurement tools to use as we test the candidate during the interview process and prove the results when we verify them during reference checks. We want to be assured they have been successful in the past and can do so again at your company.

To learn about Recruiting for Soft Skills, read this blog.