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As of yesterday, it’s official. After two successive quarters of negative GDP growth, Aotearoa is now in the grips of a recession. Well, when I say “grips”, it’s more the kind of “grip” displayed by that unplaceable candidate’s handshake. With unemployment currently sitting at around “nobody”, this feels very much a technical, engineered recession as the Reserve Bank tries to battle inflation which has turned asparagus into a precious metal. Regardless of how we may feel, economic activity meets the metrics and criteria of a recession, so let’s all remember these times so that one day we can tell our kids how privileged they are to be eating eggs benedict in 2036. Of course, GDP growth (or lack of) is just one way to measure the economy. Of interest to me are the more esoteric methods of deciding which way the economic winds are blowing. One of my favourites is the Crane Index. This involves sending the work experience lad up on the roof to count how many cranes he can see through hungover, bloodshot eyes. This, allegedly, is a fantastic barometer of the nation’s economic health. Another method is to count truck traffic leaving the docks. Some economist somewhere once told me that this was one of the best indicators of which way the economy was heading. So if you’re about to re-fix your home loan, all you need is a thermos, one of those clicky counter things, and a week off work.

Recruitment firms, especially those defined as “global”, are of course no strangers to these kind of metrics. In fact, I’d wager that if I said “Hays”, at least 50% of you would immediately say “KPIs”. There is some truth in this, but it is also out of date. The days of KPI-ing how many shits you should take a day are long gone, and now the globals tell us that KPIs are mere tools to help Consultants focus on the correct activity. This is true, however, they’re also really useful when getting rid of people who don’t bill, and rarely enforced with those who do.

Personally, I have a positive view on KPIs. For those new to recruitment, busting your guts to fulfil seemingly meaningless KPIs makes you a better recruiter quicker than those who train in a more laissez-faire environment. The KPIs put in place by global recruitment firms aren’t just plucked out of thin air. They are based on monitoring the behaviours of thousands of successful consultants across multiple countries. Good KPIs take average people and make them good recruiters.

There is a time however where KPIs become unstuck. Once you have had good recruitment disciplines drilled into you to the point where you can’t sleep until you cover that candidate off, KPIs become a hindrance. Once you know what you are doing, and have your own approach which is delivering results, you need to start setting your own KPIs. As much as “CVs sent” is used as a metric for junior recruiters, sending your database to a client every time they brief you does you no favours as a senior recruiter. Likewise, “number of interviews booked” seems like a fine metric. In order to make placements, we need interviews right? Absolutely. However, if you’ve been working in a market long enough, and are good enough, your clients should interview anyone you tell them to. Good recruiters could book shit interviews all day long and hit this metric out the park. Their reputation as a “good recruiter” wouldn’t last long however.

Walking the dog this morning I started thinking about my own self-imposed KPIs. There’s two I use without thinking about it. Firstly, I look at my diary. Not day by day, but on the “week view”. If there’s loads blocked out, I’m keeping myself busy. If  it’s all blocked out, I’m too busy and won’t be able to react quickly enough. If it’s too empty, I spent too much of last week in Vultures. A quick glance of the ol’ Outlook diary typically keeps me in the sweet spot of activity. The main metric I use however is my “call history log”. Open your phone now and press the call button. Now scroll to yesterday and count the number of calls you made or received. You have to factor in that this is 2023 and no one answers their phone anymore, but my crane index or truck count is the number of both incoming and outgoing calls I receive in a work day. For me, with this desk, anything under 30 will not deliver the results I need. However, straying into the 50+ territory as I am at the moment means that I’ve gone into headless chicken mode, and no good comes from that either. If I want to make enough quality calls, my number sits between 30 and 50. I have no idea if this is high or low, but for a rec-to-rec desk, and my JOYN responsibilities, this seems to work. I’m sure some of you in the volume space are doubling that. And some of you might do less. However, I bet each of you has a sweet spot which keeps the dollars rolling in, and allows you to occasionally have a social life.

Anyway, speaking of working too hard, this is the last blog from me for a couple of weeks. I’m off to Fiji, so please follow my Instagram if you’re a fan of exotic European swimwear. Jon will be bashing out the blogs no doubt, and we might even persuade Anastasia to write one.

See ya guys.