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London hosts talks to consider global HR definitions

February 2013 | By DeeDee Doke
John Kells
John Kells

If you and your recruiting colleagues have long debated the definitions of terms such as ‘cost to hire’, you’re not alone. However, an initiative to define that and similar professional recruitment terms, and standardise global metrics is underway.

London will be the setting from 18-21 February for discussions on formulating international human resources standards, including recruitment. 

The three-day meeting of representatives from 18 participating countries and 20 observing countries will mark the launch of the International Standards Organisation’s (ISO’s) effort to gather data from all ISO member countries regarding HR standards and rules. 

“Standards are methodologies for coming up with a standard way to measure a standard definition, which allows HR organisations to be comparable,” explained John Kells, vice president — product management at US human capital management solutions firm ADP. Kells is the US-based convenor of an ISO working group that last year created an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard of cost-to-hire.

“For years in recruiting, people would say, ‘Our time-to-fill is two days for a job’ or something, for example. But one never knew where they started the measurement: the day they created the job; the day they processed the job? Did they start the day they got the first phone call? And when did they end — was it the first day of work? The day the job was accepted? The day you reach productivity? So no one could agree on the maths formulas,” Kells told Recruiter.

The project was generated, Kells went on to say, because “there’s an understanding that in HR globally, we have a very hard time comparing things and methods. So HR is now moving the way that other industries and groups have, which is to come up with standards which allow these calculations to take place”.

The ANSI-developed standard for cost-of-hire fills most of a 40-page document. “It’s the first metric for recruiting, but there will be many, many more,” Kells said.

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