Guide to Creating Recruitment Goals for the New Year

December 31, 2019 4 Corner Resources 4 Corner Resources

It’s time for a look in the mirror. No, not the one hanging over your bathroom sink. We’re talking about the proverbial one that shows the cold, hard truth about how you’re doing in the recruitment department. Be honest: how did your talent acquisition strategy stack up this year?

Whether you’re happy with the results or wish you had a stronger performance to show, there’s always room for improvement. The new year (or in this case, the new decade!) is the perfect time to assess your current situation and implement changes for a stronger recruitment program in the year ahead.

Why Set Recruitment Goals?

“We’re all working toward the same objective.” We hear it time and time again from leadership, but are you, really? If you asked every person on your staffing team what their goals were for 2020, how many of their answers would match up? 

Getting on the same page regarding your recruiter objectives is critical because talent acquisition is directly tied to business outcomes like brand perception and revenue. Research has shown that top performers produce up to four times more output than the average employee. This translates into higher sales, greater productivity, and fewer labor hours wasted, all of which have a direct impact on your bottom line. Further, top employees typically serve as your best brand advocates, representing your organization in a positive light among their peers and the general public.

Follow these five steps to set clear recruiter objectives at an individual level and recruitment goals at an organizational level so you can hire your best talent yet in 2020. 

How to Set Recruitment Objectives 

Step #1 when Setting Recruitment Goals:  Take stock

Before you even begin thinking about what you want to accomplish in 2020, you must first analyze how you did on your recruitment goals in 2019. Without taking stock of your prior year’s performance, you can’t set a clear and actionable plan for moving forward.  

We’ve talked in the past about defining your organization’s key recruiting metrics and tracking them consistently (if you need a refresher on that, click here). This is the place to start. Assess the available data to see where you started and finished the year, keeping an eye out for trends and swings in performance. You’ll want to review metrics at both an individual recruiter level and for the department as a whole. 

Here are some suggested areas and metrics to assess. 


  • Source of applicants. How do your various recruiting channels compare to one another?
  • Applicants per opening. Are you getting enough quality applicants in the door?
  • Applicant completion rate. Are applicants dropping off before making it through your hiring funnel?
  • Source of hire. Where do the majority of your hires initially come from?


  • Time to fill. Does your hiring funnel work smoothly, or are there holdups?
  • Time to hire. How does it stack up against standards for your industry?
  • Time to productivity. This can provide insight into the effectiveness of your onboarding and training.  


  • Cost per hire. Find it by dividing your total recruiting investment by the number of candidates hired. 
  • External versus internal costs. Does the ratio make sense?
  • Cost per sourcing channel. How does each channel’s cost stack up against its effectiveness?

Candidate/employer satisfaction

  • Offer acceptance rate. Are you losing a disproportionate number of candidates to competitors?
  • Candidate experience. This feeds into your employer brand
  • Candidate job satisfaction. Do expectations match reality for new hires?
  • First-year attrition rate. If it’s high, it can lead to ballooning costs. 
  • First-year candidate performance. Are managers getting what they need out of new hires?

Step #2 when Setting Recruitment Goals: Seek feedback

Now that you’ve got a handle on the hard numbers, it’s time to take a look at some less quantifiable data. Hopefully you’ve been collecting and assessing ongoing feedback on your recruitment process all year through things like candidate experience surveys, employee exit interviews, and input from members of your recruiting team. 

When you review this subjective feedback, what stands out? Are there themes that keep coming up, like a lack of communication during the hiring process or unmet salary expectations? When combined with the objective recruiting metrics we talked about in step 1, these form a full, dynamic picture of your recruiting program that will serve you in step 3. 

Step #3 when Setting Recruitment Goals: Find the weak links

By this point, you should have a good idea of your biggest problem areas, like metrics that fell above/below your expectations or repeat negative candidate feedback. The thing to do now is to identify the source of the breakdown in your hiring process that’s causing the problem. 

Here are some examples to demonstrate how you can tie a problem to its corresponding weak link in your hiring funnel.

  • Your applicants-per-opening is low and you don’t have enough qualified candidates to choose from for each position. This could indicate that you need to cast a wider net with more creative recruitment strategies to attract a larger, more diverse pool of candidates.
  • Your time-to-hire is uncharacteristically long because your interview process drags on for weeks. You need to find a better system for executing the interview portion of your hiring funnel, like automated scheduling or a single-day interview process.
  • Your acceptance rate is low and candidates often wind up with the competition. There are many factors to examine here: are your salaries in line with industry norms? Is your employer brand weak? Do you have poor ratings on forums like Glassdoor? What do candidates say in their feedback surveys?

Finding the weak links will allow you to clearly identify what needs to change. Once you’ve done this, you can set clear recruitment goals to accomplish the transformation. Which leads us to step 4…

Step #4 when Setting Recruitment Goals: Set SMART goals

In order to be effective, recruitment goals can’t be broad and overreaching. Instead, and perhaps contrary to what you might assume, they must be narrow and precise. Researchers have found that setting goals that are both specific and challenging lead to higher performance 90% of the time. What’s more, writing down those goals—or in your organization’s case, documenting and communicating them clearly to your whole recruiting team—makes it exponentially more likely that you’ll achieve them. 

To set goals that meet the above criteria, use the SMART framework. This method of goal-setting has been around since the 80’s and can be applied in countless business contexts to help you achieve more. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. 

Here’s how each letter of the SMART framework might look when setting recruiter objectives.

  • Specific. We want to attract more entry-level candidates who can be groomed for advancement within the company.  
  • Measurable. We want to attend four job fairs per quarter at technical colleges.
  • Attainable. We want to focus our efforts on the tri-state area, where we have the most people on the ground who can make an impact. 
  • Relevant. We want to target candidates who have training in automation, so we’ll target new grads who are majoring in engineering, computer science, and programming. 
  • Time-based. We want to increase the proportion of candidates who are promoted from within by 20% within the first six months of the year. 

By using the weak links you identified in step 3 as a guideline and following the SMART framework to set actionable goals, you’ll wind up with a timelined road map for improving your talent acquisition performance over the course of the upcoming year 

Step #5 when Setting Recruitment Goals: Streamline Systems 

It’s important to keep in mind that not every recruitment goal needs to be tied to an area of weakness. Even things that are working for you have room to get even better. 

To wrap up your 2020 goal setting, take a look at your recruitment funnel and the systems associated with it. Where is there an opportunity to do things more efficiently, quicker or with fewer resources? Some ideas to consider are streamlining your hiring funnel workflows, implementing new technology, increasing automation, eliminating needless steps, and conducting better data analysis. 

Finally, once all is said and done, measure. If you don’t have one already, implement a structured system for tracking the recruitment metrics we’ve covered here and analyzing them regularly. Some companies do this quarterly, others monthly. Find what works for you and stick to it so you’ll have even stronger data at your fingertips when goal-setting time rolls around next year.

Implement Creative Recruitment Strategies with 4 Corner Resources

If you’re looking to reach untapped talent in 2020, turn to the staffing professionals at 4 Corner Resources. We can help you expand your candidate pool and source for hard-to-fill positions at all levels. Whether you’re looking for a full-time hire, a contract worker for a short-term project or temporary labor to cover staffing gaps, we can connect you with the right professionals in your field. 

Our commitment to relationships, resources, responsiveness, and results has earned us a reputation as one of the top staffing firms in the U.S. We look forward to learning more about your recruitment goals for the year ahead and finding innovative, effective ways to help you reach them. Contact us today to get started.



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