Cost Per Hire Versus Value Per Hire Which Is Most Important

The cost of a bad hire rarely impacts an organization, however, the value of a great hire can often transform an organization.

As executive recruiters, we hear about the “cost per hire” regularly. It seems like every time HR calls, this topic comes up. However, I would suggest that a far better discussion for HR to have is on the “value per hire.” Having this discussion not with recruiters, but with the CEO is a far more meaningful and beneficial discussion. It not only helps justify that HR contributes revenue and value to the organization, but it also brings HR in as a strategic partner.

This also goes for the CFO of the organization, who should work with HR to help determine a way to calculate the value of a hire.

A few years back I was sitting in the office of the VP HR when the CFO came by and stuck his head in to say hi. During the conversation he commented, “You know, over the last x years we have paid you over $300,000 for your services.” I think he was expecting me to be apologetic. I replied, “That is all? I completely agree with you that I have been grossly underpaid.” I don't think this was the answer he was looking for. I continued, “Considering that you are now a millionaire, and the rest of the executive team I have placed here are also millionaires, and that the company went from $50 million in revenue to $250 million in revenue with a valuation close to $1 billion, I believe the fees I have been paid are justified by the value these people contributed to the company. Wouldn't you agree?”

This isn't about me. It is to demonstrate that even CFO's don't step back and recognize that for some expenses there is often a lot of value created for the company. If you de-humanize this concept, an employee is just another asset. Many often say the most “valuable asset” in the company. So, if employees are assets then shouldn't the CFO be capable of calculating an ROI just like any other asset?.

Would this concept benefit HR as they justify the costs to acquire these assets? Isn't it fair to look at both sides of the equation?

Employees are often described as “human capital” so some sort of return on capital doesn't seem unrealistic. I'm not suggesting that the calculation is an easy one. I'm sure whoever first figured out how to calculate ROI had to tweak the formula more than once before getting it right, but just because it is difficult to calculate doesn't mean it shouldn't be done.

Defining success in the role before you hire a person is a good start. Our Success Factor Methodology recommends developing a job description that defines what great success is in this role. Basically, by the end of the first year what would this person have to have accomplished so that the hiring manager would consider this person not just a good hire, but a great hire. In our book, You're NOT The Person I Hired, we refer to these as,  “Success Factors” (for some free examples of Success Factors for different positions  CLICK HERE). I believe this is the starting point in determining the value an employee brings to the company. Top talent in your company will hit these. The average will hit these some of the time and below average will rarely hit the success factors. Obviously, for different levels within the company the value added will change.

At least now the company is starting to look at the value a hire brings to the company and can start to assess the ROI.

To learn more about the Success Factor Methodology to help you attract, hire and retain top talent, check out our best selling book, You're NOT The Person I Hired.

You can also begin implementing the Success Factory Methodology with our comprehensive hiring system. CLICK HERE to review.

I welcome your thoughts, comments and feedback.

Brad Remillard

Non-Monetary Rewards and Recognition Part 1 Radio Show

There are seven non-monetary steps you can take to retain your best talent. Your best people may not leave today, but they may start looking if they don’t feel appreciated. Many managers never take the time to demonstrate how much they appreciate their team. Only a very small percentage regularly read books on leadership, take a workshop or seminar on developing people and then wonder why their best people just gave notice.
Part 1 Barry and I discuss 4 simple things all managers can start doing now that costs nothing but has a  huge impact on retention. Implement even one of these 4 and your best talent will stay with you not your competition.

CLICK HERE to download.

Productivity. . . How far do we push?

A long time ago, before many executives reading this blog were born, I was in my first position after graduating from Engineering School. I was working in the aerospace industry on a military program. About three years into the project, things started heating up. We were “asked” (required really) to work six days a week to meet the contract obligations.

The company was very fair about this, paying time-and-a-half for the overtime hours even though we were salaried employees. And, in my opinion, they did not get anywhere near what they were paying for. After about three months of continuous overtime, I noticed that I and my colleagues were all putting off a bunch of stuff for “Saturday when it is quiet.” I don’t have hard data, but I’m pretty sure it’s accurate to say that it is likely that in the beginning, 48 hours of work was done in the 48 hours. But then it dropped to perhaps 40 hours of work done in 48 hours. I’m convinced that by the end of the twelve months of overtime, about 35 hours of work was being done in the 48 hours (even though we were being paid for 52 hours when you consider the time-and-a-half). This happened in a professional, white-collar workforce, not a unionized production line. While some of us enjoyed the extra pay, most of us would have rather had our weekends, so we did not intentionally slow down. We were simply burned out – not enough down time.

Today, in many companies, we are not asking or paying for overtime. However, we have asked those employees still with us to pick up the slack for those we’ve had to furlough, layoff, or force into early retirement. This has resulted in a steep increase in national productivity statistics. Many people seem to think that’s really great. I don’t.

While our employees may only be asked to work the standard 40 hours, they are either putting in extra time on their own to keep up with the load, or they are at the very least working quickly with little thought to quality or priorities. They just want to get the job done. The result, predictably, will be the same as it was in the ancient times when I was in aerospace. Burnout is bound to happen and productivity will take a dive – unless we, as forward thinking leaders, move to improve things.

There are many ways to make things a bit better. My favorite is to insist that people stop doing things – help them figure out what tasks they can safely let go without jeopardizing quality of products and services delivered to customers. Another might be to take this opportunity to move to a 4 day 40 hour work week. This is very attractive to many employees since it gives them a three day weekend. I know all the excuses for not doing this, but in general, they are simply excuses for not going through a change. We can make greater use of telecommuting so that folks can take small breaks between tasks. Another way is to begin hiring in part time folks to lessen the load (make sure you understand your state's labor laws with respect to part time and independent consultants before moving forward with this). When things pick up, and the recovery is assured for you and your business, then you can increase the hours up to full employment.

It is best to address this challenge now rather than wait for your team to start burning out (if that hasn’t already begun). So what are your ideas? How can you make sure you avoid the difficult problem of rebuilding productivity after burnout?

You can download a free chapter on sourcing top talent from the best selling book, You're NOT The Person I Hired, by CLICKING HERE.

About the author

Dave Kinnear is a sought after Business Advisor and Mentor.  He works with highly successful executives through one-to-one mentoring and coaching meetings. Individuals who are presently running successful businesses and executives in transition work with Dave to ensure meeting corporate and/or career goals. Through his affiliation with Vistage International, Dave convenes and facilitates Advisory Boards comprising Business Owners, Company Presidents and Chief Executives dedicated to becoming better leaders who make better decisions and achieve better results.

Optimize Your Staffing Decisions by Using In-depth Work Style and Personality Assessment Tools; Part 2

As mentioned in part one of this article, the wrong hiring decision can cost your company well over two to three times the individual’s salary according to Barry Deutsch, Impact Hiring Solutions. This figure may be a conservative estimate because of factors like training, evaluation, termination, re-initiating the hiring process, and lost opportunity costs. There is also an emotional factor involved in a bad hire situation. Not only can it cause stress and anxiety for both management and employees, but it also takes away focus from your company’s primary goals. Essentially, a bad hire can have a negative impact on your company’s bottom line and that won’t benefit you or your workforce.

These circumstances can be minimized during the initial hiring process by using several techniques including effective recruitment programs, skilled interviewing and in-depth work style and personality assessment tests. A personality assessment is a highly effective tool and an efficient use of company resources at this crucial point of the decision making process.

Which Personality Assessment Tool Should My Organization Use?

The following are some things to think about when reviewing various work style & personality profiles:

  1. Training or degrees required for interpretation of the data. Weekend training programs can be problematic since testing and human behavior is a very complex subject. When making hiring or internal decisions, organizations need as much information and understanding as possible as the consequences can be very costly.
  2. A copy of the resume should be supplied to the testing company to review when discussing the assessment results. We suggest that you make sure that they require this as part of the process so it is used when reviewing the assessment.
  3. Scale for “Impression Management” to understand accuracy of results and if someone is trying to ‘fake good’. The questionnaire needs a minimum of 164 questions to gather enough data for this scale.
  4. Common warning signs: When a representative uses absolute statements when describing human behavior, like ‘People are all the same’ or ‘People don’t change.’ This will convey what their level of understanding of the human personality is. Or when someone claims that their profile is 98 or 99% accurate, which rarely can be clinically supported. If you hear this, ask how the data was collected.
  5. Career Matching: Some organizations claim to know what the perfect “sales person” or “secretary” is from a personality perspective.  Ask how many careers and occupations have been studied; is the data base validated by outside organizations or only by “applied in-house studies”? “Ideal” is very difficult to define due to the variance of geography, job history and education. What is most important is if the individual has a similar thought pattern that meets the criteria within the job description.
  6. Number of clinical studies conducted by major universities. There should be multiple studies for validation purposes.
  7. How long has the profile been used – what is the history?
  8. How often is the normative database updated and where is the data coming from? (For example, U.S. Census 1990, 2000)
  9. Cultural bias – is it built into the profile and for which countries?
  10. Does the profile meet U.S. government employment standards? Has it been reviewed for ADA compliance & gender, culture & racial bias?
  11. Reading level required (5th grade English, etc).
  12. Number of profiles administered.
  13. Number of actual primary scales as defined by the “Big 5” testing standards. Many tests will claim to have more scales than they actually have – this can lead to misrepresentation of data.
  14. Does the data provide the depth necessary to understand how an individual is wired inside?
  15. Validity, reliability and basis.

These are some general questions and if a profile falls short in any one area, we strongly suggest additional research into the accuracy of the data being generated.



A personality assessment is only one component needed for a successful recruitment and hiring program. It can provide valuable information for critical personnel decisions. Combined with an effective recruitment program and skilled interview techniques, it can benefit your company as a whole, in addition to your individual employees. Armed with accurate and quantifiable data from an in-depth personality assessment, the interview process becomes much more reliable. Ultimately, this only adds to your organization’s bottom line, allowing more effective management of your existing workforce and limiting the potential for wrong hiring decisions. For more information, please visit our Web ite, to sign up for our Open Line webinars and monthly articles.

Do you know your companies culture? Would others in your company describe it the same? Take our Company Culture Assessment to find out. It is FREE to download CLICK HERE.

Author Bio:

Dana Borowka, MA, CEO of Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC has over 25 years experience in the area of business consulting and helping organizations both nationally and internationally in raising the hiring bar through using in-depth work style assessments. Lighthouse Consulting Services, LLC provides a variety of services, including in-depth work style assessments for new hires & staff development, team building, interpersonal & communication training, career guidance & transition, conflict management, workshops, and executive & employee coaching.  To order the book, “Cracking the Personality Code” please go to

Choosing Recruiters: Mistake #2 – We Need an Expert

Great recruiters search for top talent by fishing deeply rather than plucking old candidates out of databasees

Some executives believe that the only way a recruiter can be successful is to have many years of recruiting in a particular functional category (finance, marketing, human resources, manufacturing), or in a specific industry (construction, bio-technology, education, non-profit, electronics, distribution).

Using the criteria of a functional or industry expertise is a classic mistake in choosing recruiters.

The best recruiters are not industry or functional experts. Their expertise is as world-class recruiters. They know how to play detective to find the very best talent, they understand human motivation and the key elements of why candidates are open to new opportunities, and they are master interviewers capable of extracting information from candidates – information they wouldn’t share with their closest friends or spouses.

Most functional or industry focused recruiters work the same old tired lists of candidates, move the same people from one company to the next and back again, and lack an in-depth understanding of how to nurture, excite, motivate, and create passion in candidates around new opportunities. Rarely do they actually “recruit”. They have no process for identifying new candidates other than a little light networking, running advertisements, and searching their “database” of candidates.

Two decades ago (B.I. – Before Internet – who can even remember this???), the only way to be successful as a recruiter was to specialize since the data you possessed in a 3×5 card system was your inventory or earning potential. Your success as a recruiter was a function of the strength of your network. Today, within 24-48 hours, any good recruiter can identify 80-90% of the key targets on an executive search using the Internet (Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, ZoomInfo, Jigsaw, industry lists and publications, and many times – simply visiting the competitor websites). There is NO longer any need to maintain a unique database of candidates in a particular functional discipline or industry specialization.

Recruiters who still hang onto the tribal methods of recruiting from 20 years ago will claim “I know all the key players in the industry”, “I am well connected”, “I have an extensive database”, “I once held the blank title for the same job you want to hire” or “I worked for years in the blank industry”. None of these claims translate into being a great recruiter. You might have once been a great CFO or Marketing Executive, but that doesn’t mean you’re a good recruiter. Just because you have a phone and a rolodex does not mean you can recruit top talent. The recruiters who claim they have the industry contacts and databases will typically throw a bunch of resumes at you while keeping their fingers crossed that you fall in love with one of them – consequently owing a recruiting fee.

This is not recruiting – it doesn’t even remotely resemble executive search. Instead, it’s nothing more than brokerage – flinging resumes by email with the hope that something will stick. The best recruiters understand which ponds to fish in and how deeply to fish in each pond. The best recruiters EARN their fees by uncovering the very best talent – not candidates who are convenient from their database.  Brokerage (or a referral fee for flinging a resume) shouldn’t be worth more than 5-10% of the candidates first year compensation. Real search fees in the 30% range can only be justified if the recruiter does the following:

Identification of target candidates

A major campaign to convince those candidates to interview and leave their current jobs

Helping you to screen, interview, validate, and vet candidates instead of box-checking job descriptions and then “flinging resumes” (more on why most recruiters don’t see their job as helping you to interview and evaluate candidates in a future posting).

Let me share a personal example: My specialty as an executive recruiter is recruiting – and Brad and I are two of the top recruiters in the United States – how many recruiters can claim they are great recruiters as opposed to “I understand what it’s like to be a CFO or I understand the industrial fastener market”.

If you are a company executive, which would you rather have:

A recruiter who claims to understand the functional role and industry and suggests they have a great database,


A recruiter who has a proven track record of ferreting out the best talent, motivating that talent to get excited about your opportunity, and helping you to validate they can deliver the results you desire.

You obviously want the recruiter who can deliver the results you desire – why then do most companies use the wrong criteria to pick recruiters.

Brad and I talk have spoken a number of times in our weekly radio show about choosing recruiters. You can download our radio shows in our FREE audio archive. We are also preparing a recruiter best practice scorecard which you can use to benchmark recruiters before choosing a firm to help you fill a critical role.

Barry Deutsch

Don’t forget to join our LinkedIn Discussion Group on Hiring and Retaining Top Talent for a more in-depth discussion on choosing recruiters.