Recruiting has not come very far in the past 15 or so years. We’re still trying to find the right technology and, while applicant tracking systems have evolved tremendously, the way we use them hasn’t kept up.
Despite the technology, most recruiters handle about the same requisition load as they did then. We still call candidates in for face-to-face interviews, despite advances in online screening and assessment. We still don’t use our own databases of candidates very effectively.
The two most distinctive technologies that emerged in the 1990s were the corporate career site and job boards. Not many organizations even had a corporate website in the early 1990s, but by mid-decade they were growing rapidly. I am not sure when the first careers website emerged, but not until after the corporate sites. Job boards were not invented until the mid 1990s. Yet, neither of these innovations have done much to ease our work. The problems and issues recruiters face are the same as in 1990.
What can change this situation? Can recruiters work any smarter? Is it possible for the average recruiter to make any real improvement in how much they can accomplish or in how many positions they can fill? Why hasn’t technology made much impact?
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After all, if you could shave an hour or two off your current work schedule every day, you would get five to 10 hours a week to work on additional requisitions, spend more time communicating with candidates, learn something new, or just relax.
The manufacturing world lived through the drive for greater productivity for two decades. They grappled with how to be more efficient, raise productivity and also raise quality. Concepts such as Six Sigma, lean manufacturing, the theory of constraints, and process re-engineering have resulted in organizations producing more products at lower cost and with higher quality than could have been imagined in 1970.
Recruiting will have to use similar tools and improve its efficiency and productivity or organizations will find some other way to get the job done. The recent move to outsourcing is driven, in part, by the quest for faster, better recruiting.
There are a lot of ways to work more productively, and by forcing some different thinking, you can come up with a dozen ways to save time and money. Below I’ve presented my initial five steps for how to best maximize your time:
- Simplify everything you do. Don’t make your own work process complex. Cut out the steps that aren’t absolutely essential to your success. And I mean absolutely essential. Most of us either create or inherit steps that are, at best, only marginally needed. For example, I know recruiters who spend time conducting telephone screens of candidates even when the candidates’ qualifications and background meet all the requirements. They feel they are adding quality, but I am almost certain they are mostly wasting time. Why not just schedule an interview with the hiring manager and save time and money? Whenever I conduct a process assessment for a client, we find two or three hours each day where time is being wasted on something that is not essential and can be cut out entirely. Keep a log of everything you do each day for a week. At the end of the week, take an hour or so and carefully review it. Ask yourself what you could have not done, or perhaps done faster. If you do this for a few weeks, I guarantee you will find time you didn’t know you had.
- Focus and prioritize. Rather than spend time spreading yourself over several candidates and positions, focus on the one or two that are most important to your organization and set a personal goal on when to have them filled. Focus is powerful and helps you spend the time you need to source, screen, interview, and hire people much faster. When you are dealing with five or six candidates and hiring managers at the same time, productivity goes down. While parallel processing is sometimes more effective (in computers for sure), most humans work better with serial processing: doing one thing and then the next. Ideally, each recruiter would focus on not more than three types of positions and build the appropriate candidate talent communities to support those. This is what headhunting firms and staffing agencies have always done.
- Leverage technology. I know that you have heard me say this over and over, but technology is your friend. Without it, you can make some marginal improvements to productivity, but with it you can make big leaps. Rather than thinking about technology as automating the process, think about it as a set of tools to help you and candidates optimize your time. The recruiting website should be the hub for all your activities. Use it to deliver pre-screened, and even pre-assessed, candidates. Move administrative activities (scheduling, dealing with applications, background checks) to fully automated processes. Many ATS tools offer this kind of automation and, sadly, it is often not used. Anything that is transactional in nature is, by definition, of no value and should be eliminated, automated, or outsourced.
- Put the candidate in control. Use tools such as online profilers and online screening, Web-based videos, and electronic information about jobs and what they consist of to give the candidate control over the process. Let candidates schedule their own interviews if they meet certain criteria and let them complete online applications. Provide them information, tools, and tests, and then get out of their way. Contrary to what many recruiters believe, candidates enjoy being in control and will provide information you need without much complaint. Several organizations have reported getting “fan” mail from candidates who thoroughly enjoyed the sense of control and the freedom from being at a recruiter’s mercy.
- Stay in contact with a talent community. Spend time developing a community of people you have already screened to some degree and know something about. They are most likely qualified to work at your company but will need to go through some final interviews. They should be “in the electronic loop” as to what your recruiting plans look like and why you are still (or no longer) interested in them. This act of informing them via email or other Web-based means will build loyalty and make it easy to recruit them whenever you need to. The focus for the next decade will be on productivity, automation, and on letting the candidate control the hiring process to a greater level than they do today. Your job will be to facilitate that process, develop and populate talent communities, put in place appropriate gates and screens, and monitor candidate quality.