Are You Setting the Right Recruitment Goals?

According to The Happy Manager, “teams come together as an effective unit much more quickly when they have a challenging and meaningful goal they are committed to achieving.”

Even well-intentioned recruitment team leaders often discover that goal setting is more complex than it appears. This can leave many teams with goals that are “too vague and tricky to measure” according to the MIT Sloan Management Review. 

High-performing recruitment teams master the art of establishing well-defined goals to clarify their daily focus, drive weekly outcomes, and empower better decision-making year round.

As you reflect on your team’s progress to date and plan for the year ahead, consider re-evaluating your existing goal setting framework. 

If you discover your current design is in need of an upgrade, here are four goal setting frameworks to consider as you lead your recruiting team to a successful year ahead.


Created by George T. Doran in 1981, SMART goals is commonly associated with Peter Drucker’s management by objectives concept.

The SMART goal acronym does not have one definitive meaning, as the words have changed over time.  In most settings, SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

Duncan Haughey contends that one of the reasons for the sustained popularity of SMART goals is that they can be “used by anyone, anywhere, without the need for any particular tools or training.” 

For examples of SMART Goals for recruiters, check out TopEchelon’s recommendations.

“Those who fail to plan, plan to fail.” 

Attributed to Benjamin Franklin


Adam Kreek, creator of the CLEAR goal setting system, believes that SMART goals haven’t kept up with the faster, more-agile environment that most businesses find themselves in today. 

CLEAR is an acronym for Collaborative, Limited, Emotional, Appreciable, and Refinable.

Barc Holmes describes CLEAR goals as “flexible, team-based, and better aligned with a fast-changing business environment.” 

Set CLEAR goals alongside your recruitment team to enhance the quality and volume of your hiring goals, maximize your business impact, or solidify hiring manager-related goals. Explore this comprehensive list of strategic goals from Dr. John Sullivan to get started.



What do employees at Google, Amazon, Spotify and Salesforce have in common? 

They are all governed by Objectives and Key Results OKRs, defined by Wikipedia as “a framework for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes.”

Andy Grove, the Father of OKRs, documented the approach in his 1983 book, High Output Management.

Building OKRs for your recruiting team can help align your team’s goals with the larger Talent Acquisition and company-wide goals for the quarter, half or year. 

Give clear direction to every recruiter, sourcer and recruiting coordinator on your team by periodically reviewing and updating your OKRs. 

If you’re curious, evaluate how OKRs compare to SMART Goals, or review specific HR/Recruitment OKR samples to get your creativity flowing. 

Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible. 

Anthony Robbins

FAST Goals

If SMART goals aren’t a fit for your recruiting team, recruitment leaders should instead set goals that are FAST — frequently discussed, ambitious, specific, and transparent.

According to management experts Donald Sull and Charles Sull, FAST goals “should be embedded in frequent discussions; ambitious in scope; measured by specific metrics and milestones; and transparent for everyone in the organization to see.”

To test how FAST your current recruitment goals are, take this brief quiz from the MIT Sloan School of Management. 

What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.

Zig Ziglar

Approach with Agility

Once you determine which framework is best for your team of recruiters, remember to approach your goal setting with an agile mindset.

Companies who have adopted agile over traditional performance management methodologies have observed higher team engagement, better overall quality and higher candidate and client satisfaction.

Using the fundamentals of agile goal setting (AGS), recruiting teams can establish goals that are fluid and contextual, regardless of their preferred framework.

Watch this four-minute video to get started with your CLEAR goal setting exercise.

“Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, in which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.” 

Pablo Picasso

No matter what framework best suits your recruitment team’s needs, take time to reflect on the accomplishments of the past year, celebrate wins, and learn from mistakes. 

As you prepare goals for the upcoming week, quarter or year, explore our Goals Series for ideas on how to optimize your workday.

What goal setting framework has your recruitment team found most valuable? Let us know in the comments below!