The Agile Recruiting Manifesto

While I recruit for almost anything, over the years I’ve done a lot of software engineering recruiting. I’ve learned that software engineers in startups typically have short time frames to develop, modify, and test their software, and to do it effectively, there is a formal method called “agile software development.”

Since I usually like to understand what it is I’m recruiting for, I did some research about agile software development, and found out the the principles behind it were formulated in 2001 in a document called The Agile Manifesto. There seemed to be a great deal that could also apply to recruiting. I decided to “sample” — aka, steal it — and substitute some appropriate recruiting terms for the software terms, and about three years ago I sent it out. Here it is again:

Article Continues Below

Manifesto for Agile Recruiting

We are uncovering better ways of hiring people by doing it and helping others do it.

Through this work we have come to value:

  • Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
  • Quick, quality hires over comprehensive documentation
  • Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
  • Responding to change over following a plan

Principles behind the Agile Recruiting Manifesto

We follow these principles:

  • Our highest priority is to satisfy the customer through early and continuous delivery of quality hires.
  • Welcome changing requirements, even late in development. Agile processes harness change for the customer’s competitive advantage.
  • Deliver quality hires frequently, from a couple of weeks to a couple of months, with a preference to the shorter timescale.
  • Internal customers and recruiters must work together daily throughout the project.
  • Build projects around motivated individuals.
  • Give them the environment and support they need, and trust them to get the job done.
  • The most efficient and effective method of conveying information to and within a recruiting team is face-to-face conversation.
  • A quality hire which is on time and within budget is the primary measure of progress.
  • Agile processes promote sustainable employee development.
  • The sponsors, developers, and users should be able to maintain a constant pace indefinitely.
  • Continuous attention to professional excellence and first-class service enhances agility.
  • Simplicity — the art of maximizing the amount of work not done — is essential.
  • The best requirements, processes, and hires emerge from self-organizing teams.
  • At regular intervals, the team reflects on how to become more effective, then tunes and adjusts its behavior accordingly.

I think it’s a pretty good statement of what we recruiters should strive for. What do you think about this? Does it reflect what you believe and want to strive for? Do these principles seem practical and achievable, or do the cold hard realities of corporate recruiting “bloatocracies” dominated by the “GAFI” Principles of Greed, Arrogance, Fear, and Ignorance/Incompetence prevent anything like this from being done?

Keith Halperin is currently working as a senior contract recruiter and performs additional sourcing work. He has worked in recruiting, placement, search, and research for highly diverse clients (from startups to Fortune 500 firms) throughout the San Francisco Bay Area since 1986. He conceived, designed, and implemented corporate recruiting strategies, and developed a white paper for a $70 million, five-year NASA CS recruiting project. He developed the Recruiting Process Methodology, a comprehensive open-source roadmap of recruiting. He co-founded MyIPOJob job fairs for pre-IPO companies, and founded Recruitersforum, an online job site for all types of recruiting positions.


6 Comments on “The Agile Recruiting Manifesto

  1. Keith this manifesto is the ideal.

    I tend to believe that it will be used like any corporate mission statement, values statement and vision posted on boards across the globe. Great talk and decor but little action.

    It just is not in the staffing industries DNA to be that organized and disciplined.

    It is however an ideal state to achieve.

    I am more interested in how this will be consistently applied.

  2. Thanks, Gareth. Well said. You’ve hit the nail on the head. As might be expected, the companies in most need of implementing it are the ones least likely to do so. unless there’s committed high-level buy-in to make it work it’ll be just another bit of “corpaganda.” I think it would require a powerful, influential, and respected Sr. Staffing Head committed to creating a fact-based, staffing best practices regardless of the preferences of some very high level people (often including the Founders, CXOs, etc.) I’d also expect that there might be considerable opposition in the rank and file, because some people have vested interests even in the most dysfunctional systems.For example: let’s say I was making $65,000/yr as an internal corporate recruiter, and I mainly handled the job postings and applicants who came through the ATS and off boards. I’m quite good at what I do, and we’ve had lots of hires from my work. However, what I do could be efficiently outsourced for probably 1/3 of what I’m making, and I’m not the kind of recruiter who knows how (or realistically can effectively learn) to do high-touch, high-value add recruiting work like mentoring, advising, acting as a liaison between the company and the outsourced resources, or hard-core CLOSING. I’ve go a wife and two kids and a mortgage- and “The Agile Recruiting Manifesto” and “Recruiting Best Practices” are a direct threat to my livelihood. Do you think I’m going to meekly resign myself to that? Multiply me by a few to a few hundred times/company, and you see what we’re up against….



  3. Great Manifesto Keith.
    I am working in IT Recruitments from beginning of my career and aware that Agile methodology is a revolution in software industry.Now a days every company is looking for Architect who worked on Agile Metrics.Now we have similar menifesto for Recruitments as well.Thanks again for wonderful words.This is complete business oriented structure which will help recruitments of any industry.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *