S4 E112 | CXR Podcast: Marcus Thorpe talks about data

Marcus Thorpe from ThoughtWorks shares why it is so important to not only understand your data but to measure it properly and course correct when needed.
S4 E112 CXR Podcast: Marcus Thorpe

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Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:21
Welcome back to another CareerXroads podcast. I’m super excited. Today we’re going to take about 10 minutes to meet with industry friend and colleague, Marcus Thorpe, Marcus, welcome to the show.

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 0:32
Thank you very much. Good to be here.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 0:34
Glad to have you on. Before we jump in, and we got a great big topic. We’re going to talk about data today and why data matters or why we why we think it matters or why we care about data but before we jump in, why don’t you share with us? Who is Marcus Thorpe? Why do we care what Marcus Thorpe has to say?

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 0:51
Well, I’m a well traveled soul. So hopefully, I have a sort of good international perspective on things. I’ve worked at some of the larger tech companies in my time, so I’ve had to hire some pretty elite engineering talent on my journey. Some of the big companies, you’ve heard of some smaller ones as well on the routes. And, you know, I’ve kept pretty honest to myself, I try and be myself and get my team to be themselves, when they’re recruiting, which I think is key and talent aquisition, it’s very easy to fall into a sort of sales hole, if you will, to be yourself and you know, build relationships with folks. So pretty interesting journey, well traveled, hopefully have some good context to share.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 1:37
Well, how does you know the topic of data, we were just talking before the show, and I think you’ve got a pretty interesting perspective on on why data is so important. So if you were, I get what, let’s put you in a time machine, right? So if you were to go back 10 years, maybe even five years, is there something you tell your your younger self outside of what musical venues to go see outside of, you know, your big music fan? But what, what would you tell yourself about data within the within the world of recruitment?

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 2:07
Yeah, well, first one, trust your instincts. You know, I think I think that’s a big one for recruiters in general, but particularly around data, but most importantly, is understand your data, you know, we all create, or for amounts or for huge amounts of data and recruiting world, but you should understand your trends, you should understand your data, you know, some of us are high volume, need many candidates to get the highest. And that’s okay. And some of us will get two or three candidates and work just as hard to get those candidates. But then more than more, hit them hit the mark, but understand your data. So when you review it three, six months from now, if it looks awry, or trends aren’t going to form, you can do some more analysis into what looks right, and what you need to change to make things better. I would definitely say, if you’re ever able to hire an analyst, to own your data, you know it, I cannot put enough emphasis on how important the integrity of your data is, you know, the key reason that I think data is important is to manage stakeholders, whether they’re internal in your team, or whether they’re external business clients of yours. And so having data that’s directionally accurate, is so important. And so an analyst can help you in that regard, and can help educate junk in junk out as well. Analysts will always tell you, and every one of us has a responsibility to making sure that data is super accurate, or as accurate as you can make it, it’s never going to be 100%. But if you can understand the downstream effects of it not being correct, you know, and do whatever you can to make it better, you know, you’re going to be much better place. And then probably the last bit of info, advice, doesn’t have to learn some Excel, you know, if you’re going to be looking at bigger and bigger sets of data, it doesn’t hurt to be able to understand how to run a pivot table, or to sort of put data into different tables within an Excel spreadsheet and see if you can make it look prettier for your audience.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 4:08
Yeah, what do you know, Marcus so a couple of things I caught in there, and one of them was understanding your own numbers, which I think is pretty important. There’s probably not a week or two that go by where Jerry and I are not asked what what’s the average wreck load that a recruiter should hold? Or what should a fair time to fill the our time to offer and time to accept? And I think you raise a really interesting sort of sort of nugget we’re just dialing into for just a second is around knowing your own data because it’s great to benchmark against others. But can you can you talk a little bit about the value of benchmarking against yourself versus others?

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 4:46
Yeah, I mean, most of us started recruiting, we’re still on the agency side and you’re micromanaged to within a, you know, a minute of your life ending. And there’s, there’s clearly a reason for that is that they want to be The agency wants you to get the best practice in terms of picking up the phone and smiling and dialing as much as possible to have as many meaningful conversations with candidates etc. But you develop your own style over time. And, you know, the ultimate goal is we need to be make sure we need to be making sure that our clients are happy that we’re putting bums in seats. And over time, you will understand you know how many candidates you need to talk to, to get those bums in seats, now it’s going to change from time to time, if your reqs change from being a very technical role to being a sales role. But ultimately, your understand your you’ll learn to understand, you know, the throughput you require in terms of candidate flow in order to get your number of hires. Hopefully, the quality of your highest remains strong, you know, quality of hire, to me is the golden the sort of the holy grail of recruitment data, you know, are your, all your hires in the top X percent of performance at the company, you know, one year two years in when you’re in their performance, but the more predictability you can have as an individual, whether you’re a recruiter, recruiting manager, managing a team of recruiters, in terms of being able to tell the business who I expect to hire, and when, you know, the more impact you’re going to have from a business perspective and being able to have them meet targets, and them to understand the the downstream effects of bad behavior in terms of interviewers not turning up for interviews and not giving the feedback. So it’s really end to end, you know, if the experiencing of your candidates, how quickly you can move them through the process, how likely you are to get them to accept offers, are they dropping out of the process, that’s pretty, it’s a pretty good leading indicator that something is going wrong, if you’re actually losing candidates throughout the process, and they’re not actually getting to the final point of being able to accept or decline an offer. So it’s really understanding from from start to finish? What’s typical looks like in your world, and therefore, you know, what you need to course correct? If it if it suddenly changes direction on you,

Chris Hoyt, CXR 7:00
How much weight Do you give, I agree with you completely, you’ve got you’ve got to know your numbers to know when something was awry, right? And when something changes, or shifts or improves, how much weight Do you give benchmarking against other organizations is it if you give it as much attention, less attention to weighing in against yourself?

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 7:19
Other organizations gives you great context, for a stakeholder perspective, that’s my personal view. And stakeholders always, you know, living in their own little world, sometimes they’ve been very, very tenured individuals, they’ve only really seen life at the company that you’re talking about. So benchmarking externally, giving us an external context can be really, really helpful. But when it comes to, internally, I think that you’re probably going to always be benchmarking with other individuals doing a similar role, or someone who did a similar role, you know, six months, 12 months previously at the same company, your process is going to be different, the number of steps you go through is going to be very different. The ability to convert an offer into an offer accept is always going to be a little bit different. Your way you fit on the compensation structure is going to be different, your benefits may be very, very different. So I think internal benchmarking is always going to be more valuable for the recruiting team internally to measure against each other. But as I said, you know, when dealing with stakeholders, sometimes an external context can can redirect that their actions a little bit, because they only have ever seen internal data and not understand how that looks externally. Yeah,

Chris Hoyt, CXR 8:28
Yeah, very well, point again, you said one other thing. I got one more question for you mentioned one of the thing the holy grail of recruiting, right quality of hire, how, how are you measuring quality, higher authorities? What is what goes into that metric for you?

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 8:45
Well, truthfully, we’re not there yet. I think it needs to become the only way to genuinely measure it is with the impact of the highest that they make on the organization. So if it’s a sales individual, it’s you know, what revenue they bring into the company, eventually, that’s the quality of the hire. For the technical world. It’s, you know, what percentage of my hires are top performers, you know, in their first performance review, 12-24 months hence, it’s a, it’s a lagging indicator, it takes you a couple of years to get there. But over time, hopefully you have a trend that’s moving in the right direction that you know that you’re not doing what every business thinks is going to happen when you increase the cadence of hires. And that’s recruiting will just try and do everything they possibly can to get in a warm body rather than a high performer. So every single company I worked out, whenever you accelerate, and you’re talking about scale, the first perception is what are we going to do to stop you know, recruiting, just deciding that we’re going to hire warm bodies versus quality. So ultimately, it’s about there’s a there’s an initial indicator, which is, you know, any early attrition, but the longer the individuals been in the company, the less likely recruiting Much parts play in that, you know, onboarding might be a part to play in that the manager being good or bad may have bands playing it. So ultimately, it’s on performance. So hopefully you can tie it to some sort of connection with business metrics, like revenue, for example. But if it’s along the lines of, you know, are 25% of my highest and the top 50% of performance at the company?that’s a pretty good a pretty good indicator of quality of hire. And that’s really the ultimate way of deciding whether somebody is a good hire or just an okay one.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 10:31
You know, I will, I think I’ve told the story on the show before but I’ll never forget years and years ago at an era Rob Mackintosh was in wasn’t in the main room, he was sort of in a in one of the concurrent sessions off to the side, but he who was going to share, and I think it was at Abinadi, at the time, but he was going to share the metric for quality of hire, he’s going to put it up on the screen is going to share it was standing room, only this little room was packed, there was a line, everyone wanted to see it. And to this day, I know, Rob won’t admit whether it was planned or not. But when Rob threw everything up there, it was all redacted. And he said at the last minute, he couldn’t share any of these metrics. So that he went on to talk about all these other elements and ever, it was just a deflated sense of I thought we were gonna figure it all out here. Just deliver was very upsetting.

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 11:18
Yeah, it’s, you know, it sends the data over to about performance data, it’s hard. And I genuinely think with all the all the attempts to measure quality of hire, that’s the only real, the real impactful measure that we have is, you know, regardless of their process, you know, assuming the process was relatively positive, which then they said yes to the offer, and presuming their onboarding was relatively positive, which meant they stuck around to be here for the first performance review. Ultimately, it’s how they deal with performance against their peers. That’s the true measure. And, you know, I’m probably not going to share that data externally for my for my team of hires anytime soon, either.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 11:59
Yeah, well, you wouldn’t advertise the you didn’t Rob, I’m talking to you. Alright, Maurice, so good to see you. Thanks for joining us appreciate you dialing in and we’ll see you soon in a meeting.

Marcus Thorpe, ThoughtWorks 12:10
My pleasure, cheers.

Chris Hoyt, CXR 12:11
All right, thanks.

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