You’ve done your research to understand your company’s tech hiring needs. You’ve solicited feedback from your executives to confirm that your team is working on the right things. You’ve thoroughly documented your action plan to hit your developer hiring goals. But even though you’ve followed all the principles behind creating S.M.A.R.T. goals, you discover something along the way that forces you to reevaluate everything. When all of the data suggests that you need to tweak your plan, there’s no getting around the fact that this is extraordinarily difficult for any talent acquisition leader to process.
So how can you bounce back when you don’t hit your S.M.A.R.T. goals? How do you edit or create brand new goals on the fly, without disrupting your team’s workflow for an extended period? Here are a few tips to help you along the way.
When it comes to smart goal setting, it’s hard enough to acknowledge the fact that you didn’t deliver. Digging deeper to find the reasons why you didn’t meet those recruiting goals is an even more painful task, even for experienced managers. But creating S.M.A.R.T. tech recruitment goals requires you to understand why you didn’t hit targets in the past—and as uncomfortable as that work can be, it needs to happen as soon as you discover that you’re falling short of any goal.
We’ll illustrate this further, using an example goal of increasing qualified applications for a Mobile Developer role by 15% this month. Let’s assume that you only increased qualified applications by 5%. Did you post your job listing on the most relevant platforms? Did your recruiters prioritize mobile development meetups and events? Are you short on tech recruiter headcount? Was your initial target too aggressive? Ask yourself these tough questions to get to the root of your overall “failure.”
OK, so you’ve discovered the reasons that your team fell short. Is it time to start figuring out exactly who dropped the ball, on which days they made a mistake, and who is to blame? Before you start singling out individual recruiters, evaluate your performance. Then, accept responsibility for all of the reasons that you didn’t deliver what you promised in your original S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Of course, if one of your recruiters made a critical mistake, it’s important to address it in your one-on-one meetings. But when you review your developer hiring performance with your executive team, think about the areas in which you could have done things differently as the manager. Perhaps you underestimated how much work it would take to hire five developers this quarter, or overestimated how much recruitment support you dedicated to your most urgent roles. Pointing fingers at your team is ultimately the least productive way to move forward, but acknowledging your own mistakes will help everyone take a deep breath and move forward.
Even after you’ve discovered all of the reasons that you didn’t hit one of your S.M.A.R.T. tech recruitment goals, there’s still a small part of you that is convinced that you can make it work. Your tenacity is admirable, but if you want to support your company through developer hiring, there will be times when you just need to let go of an aspirational S.M.A.R.T. goal.
Didn’t increase your qualified developer applications by 15% this month? Think about what you were able to achieve this month, quarter, or year. Did your tech recruiters generate a 5% increase per month? That might not have been what you hoped to accomplish, but this does give you a better idea of what your team can achieve in its current state. In this case, let go of the 15% monthly goal and strive to hit that number over a couple of months, or an entire quarter.