The key to hiring transparency? Revamping your goal-setting strategy

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5 mins, 42 secs read time

The 2023 HR Tech Conference delivered on all things HR tech (and innovations in the field). It included high-value sessions highlighting artificial intelligence (AI) and the ever-evolving recruiting landscape.

Our Chief Product Officer, Henry Tsai, moderated a fireside chat with talent acquisition (TA) leaders Lori Busch and Kathryn Cant, where they explored goal-setting and how it can empower hiring teams and improve hiring transparency. Keep reading for their hot takes on the value of goal-setting and how to apply it.

Keep reading for their hot takes on the value of goal-setting and how to apply it.

So, what does goal-setting look like at its best?

SMART goals. OKRs. KPIs. There are dozens of goal-setting methods – but how do you know what good goal-setting looks like? Kathryn, former director of talent acquisition and operations at Vena Solutions, says it's about being open to change.

Over the past five years, a lot has changed in recruiting. The 2020 pandemic changed hiring forever. And the Great Resignation and Great Rehiring have forced companies to restrategize. Kathryn made a great point: adaptability lets you change strategy and pivot to stay on top of the market.

Being adaptable and prioritizing hiring transparency also allows you to adjust your goals as you grow. At Vena Solutions, they pivoted the goals they set when there were 100 employees as it grew to 700. They established organization-wide goals through objectives and key results (OKRs).

After another change – relaunching their values – the team shifted goal-setting again. Kathryn explained the shift to an MVP structure for setting goals that focused on:

  • Mission
  • Values
  • Plays
  • Priorities

The MVP approach allowed the team to build their values into the goals. Being open to change allowed them to create goals better aligned with these new values.

For midsize organizations like Toast, goal-setting is about creating company-wide goals that cascade down. When the company’s Senior Director of Talent Acquisition Operations Lori Busch joined, Toast had a thousand employees. But with over 5,000 employees today, cascading goals has become even more crucial. It looks like:

  1. Setting goals at the organizational level (think overarching goals)
  2. Setting goals at the people team level
  3. Setting goals at the TA level

Everything funnels up into Toast's broader company goals.

How do you navigate change management to get executive buy-in?

You’re open to change, creating hiring transparency and using a cascading goals framework. But do you have executive buy-in?

Sure, it's about goals. But it's also about change management and getting your execs on board.

For Kathryn, it was about becoming talent partners and using data storytelling. Take their Greenhouse DE&I survey:

  • It was a top-priority initiative that demanded investment
  • A sizeable investment meant they needed more buy-in
  • It was necessary for Vena Solutions to reach its goals

The results of getting that buy-in (and investment)? The data the TA team collected allowed them to redefine their hiring philosophies. They worked with their newly established partners in the organization to make changes. Now, they're supporting underrepresented groups absent in their TA funnel.

Remember, not everything goes perfectly the first time. But it's about persevering and using data to tell your story. That data is the compelling part that can help show execs why your initiative matters. You're building a business case.

Lori echoed Kathryn, driving home a data-driven approach. At Toast, they wanted to create a more consistent and transparent hiring process for sales. Using Greenhouse data, they could see conversion rates and where they could improve. They identified bottlenecks and started weaving a story with that data.

How did Greenhouse help with data storytelling and building your business case?

Data storytelling first requires that you have access to crucial data. Lori's team used data in Greenhouse to understand open requisitions versus hiring targets. They discovered they didn't have enough open reqs to support Toast's hiring velocity.

The team paired that data with conversion rate data to get hiring managers to open reqs faster. A few other ways Toast used data from Greenhouse include:

  • Aligning stakeholders on the candidate profile earlier in the process using conversion data
  • Resolving interview scheduling bottlenecks by reviewing gaps in the screening processe

Data tells a compelling story that creates a solid business case.

What's in your goal-setting tech stack?

Creating goals doesn't have to be complicated. Whether you use Google Sheets or a robust tool, write your goals down somewhere. Vena Solutions used Google Sheets for company-wide goals – it created hiring transparency and allowed them to be accessible to everyone. The TA team then put Greenhouse Goals to use. Here's how:

  • Providing clarity around what success looks like and how to advance in their careers
  • Sourcers tracked how much talent they brought in and their conversion rates
  • They set both weekly and monthly individualized goals. They have an annual hiring goal but were able to break it down into monthly goals
  • Using the goals function across the company to drive hiring managers to submit scorecards within 24 hours

Lori's team used Greenhouse to inspire what they should be measuring. Toast's talent analytics team pulls data into Tableau to view the candidate experience, end-to-end. They pull data (from Greenhouse) on things like how long candidates sit in the process. Then, they use that to set recruiter goals.

How has goal-setting transformed how your hiring teams work?

Done right, goal-setting can be an effective driver of change. At Toast, they set goals around the candidate experience. Instead of fixating on the number of days a candidate sits in a stage, they reframe it to be about outcomes.

If a potential hire stays in a phase for a long time, they will have a poor experience. How can we set goals around the behaviors that drive a stellar customer experience? This approach has shifted from a numbers-only-based goal to a better experience.

For Kathryn, setting clear expectations on what individuals need to be successful is paramount. Goal-setting makes that happen by allowing teams to visualize the big picture. It helps employees understand their roles in meeting those goals.

Looking ahead

With 2024 fast approaching, we're thinking about our goal-setting strategy. Lori and Kathryn have a few tips:

  • No one knows what the new year will bring, so reference past behavior and historical data
  • Predict a scenario and headcount plan based on finance projections
  • Remember that the industry is ever-evolving and be adaptable with the goals you set

Goal-setting takes a lot of planning, flexibility and buy-in at every level. But it can help drive outcomes, create hiring transparency and provide clarity on what they're working toward. Align your broad company goals with individual TA and people team goals. Then, start planning for success!

Want to learn more about setting recruitment and hiring goals? Read our blog to learn about setting and tracking goals and why it’s a must-do.

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Pamely Gomez

Pamely Gomez

is the Social Media Manager at Greenhouse, where she elevates brand awareness and builds community. Before this role, she was a driven Talent Acquisition Manager at Greenhouse – she now blends her unique experience of thoughtful and inclusive hiring practices and her passion for content creation to develop impactful strategies. She also serves as the Chair of our Blackhouse ERG, dedicated to building belonging for Black employees at Greenhouse. You can follow her on LinkedIn.

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