Guide to Creating Recruitment Goals for the New Year

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Between record-low unemployment and constant mention of many company layoffs, the employment market seemingly changes daily. With everything that has happened over the last year, it’s time to consider where your company stands. Did you go above and beyond? Or, was this year harder than ever?

There is such a thing as too much work, and many recruiters were feeling overwhelmed in 2022 as their prospects jumped from job to job, not to mention the looming uncertainty of changes in how businesses hire. As you enter the new year, it’s time to buckle down and make some changes. But how do you ensure you set the right goals at the right time? 

Whether you’re happy with your results this year or wish you had a stronger performance to show, there’s always room for improvement. That’s why it’s so important to set recruitment goals at the end of the year, so you know just what you’ll be doing the next year. The new year is the perfect time to assess your current situation and implement changes for a stronger recruitment program in the year ahead.

Why Should You Set Recruitment Goals?

“We’re all working toward the same objective.” We hear it repeatedly from leadership, but are you really? If you asked every person on your staffing team what their goals were for 2022, 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 wasted labor hours, all of which directly impact your bottom line. Further, top employees typically serve as your best brand advocates, representing your organization positively 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 2023.

How to Set Recruitment Objectives

Step #1 Create a baseline

Before you even begin thinking about what you want to accomplish in 2023, you must first analyze how you did on your recruitment goals in 2022. You can’t set a clear and actionable plan for moving forward without taking stock of your prior year’s performance. You need a baseline to say, “This is what we did great on, this is what needs more improvement, and this is what we didn’t get to touch.”

We’ve previously discussed defining your organization’s key recruiting metrics and tracking them consistently. 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 an individual recruiter level and the department as a whole.

Not sure how to create an accurate baseline? 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 most 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 your onboarding and training effectiveness.


  • 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 Gather feedback from all employees

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.

If not, you still need an end-of-the-year assessment, which will help give you an idea of what did and didn’t work. Gathering feedback is one of the most important things you can do, so if you haven’t been doing this, make sure to add it to your 2023 goals!

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? Combined with the objective recruiting metrics we discussed in step 1, these form a full, dynamic picture of your recruiting program that will serve you in step 3.

Related: How to Measure Employee Satisfaction

Step #3 Identify the weak areas

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 must 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. This leads us to step 4…

Step #4 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 leads 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 goal-setting method has been around since the ’80s 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 automation training, so we’ll target new grads who are majoring in engineering, computer science, and programming.
  • Time-based: We want to increase the proportion of promoted candidates by 20% within the year’s first six months.

You’re learning how to improve when you identify weak areas and set SMART goals. This gives you an easy path to see everything you need to do in the new year to improve. Use these weak areas as a guideline, and write down actionable steps with the SMART framework. You’ll want each department to set its own SMART goals, and then you should also set SMART goals as an individual. It’s important to set company-wide SMART goals as well, breaking down the steps by department or individual, depending on the size of your company. This will help you improve your talent acquisition over the next year.

Step #5 Streamline systems 

It’s important to keep in mind that not every recruitment goal needs to be tied to an area of weakness. The things that you’re doing well right now can remain goals as you go into the 2023 year. Maybe, you can even improve on your best work. 

To wrap up your 2023 goal setting, look at your recruitment funnel and the associated systems. 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 your results. If you don’t have one already, implement a structured system to track the recruitment metrics we’ve covered here and analyze 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 the goal-setting time rolls around next year. That’s why it’s so important to use SMART goals so that you have accurate measurements.

Implement Creative Recruitment Strategies with 4 Corner Resources

If you want to reach untapped talent in 2023, 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 direct hire, contract staffing for a short-term project, or temporary assistance to cover labor 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.

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn