18 Lean Recruiting Tips and Tricks Heading into Summer

With an increasingly tapped talent pool in an economy with nearly full employment, the market for top candidates is only getting tighter. A new report by Jobvite offers up some tips and tricks for recruiters to stay ahead of it all. Executive search consultants weigh in as well. Enjoy!

June 29, 2018 – Hiring is on the rise, competition is fierce and time is of the essence. Today’s recruiters must be able to meet their goals quickly and effectively, despite limited resources. “A lean recruiting approach can help you achieve that essential efficiency – whether by leveraging available assets, capitalizing on new (or existing) technology, or eliminating bottlenecks – so you can ultimately deliver better results under pressure, now and into the future,” according to a new report from Jobvite, a San Matteo, CA-based software and recruiting company. Most recruiting teams are small, nimble, and always strapped for resources and budget, according to the report, “18 Lean Recruiting Tips & Tricks, Recruiting in a World with Limited Resources.”

In the report, Jobvite pointed to a recent study by LinkedIn, which addressed the crunch that many recruiters are experiencing. Fifty-six percent of the recruiters, for example, needed to hire more people this year than last, said LinkedIn. Sixty-one percent didn’t anticipate any additional recruiting headcount. And 52 percent reported that their budgets would remain stagnant.

“Combine that with an increasingly tight talent pool in an economy with nearly full employment, the market for top candidates is only getting tougher,’ said Jobvite. In fact, the 2017 Recruiter Nation Report said that 89 percent of recruiters expect it will get more competitive in the coming year.


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With those challenges in mind, Jobvite offered 18 tips to help recruiters work smarter in an “increasingly competitive, dynamic, and noisy hunt for qualified talent”:

Nail the ‘Free’ Lean Recruiting Basics

Recruiting in a world with limited resources means that you need to make sure to cover the bare minimum, said Jobvite. Here’s where to focus:

1. Create a Recruiting Culture: Since you’re on your own, or have a small recruiting team, you need to transform everyone at your company into recruiters. That means getting everyone involved from the moment a candidate is welcomed at reception to creating a balanced interview team that covers each aspect of what they are looking for in a teammate.

Although most employees are onboard, there are always a few “problem children” who don’t do a good job of selling the company or don’t conduct a positive interview. Identify those folks early in the process (even if they are hiring managers) and coach them with mock interviews.

“Recruiting is a team effort. Like in sports, everyone on the team needs to work together for the greater good,” said Stacy Pursell, CEO of The Pursell Group LLC. “The team’s goal should be to hire the best players and the team needs to be unified in working together to attract the best people. This entails making a good impression.”

“One thing that is helpful is to do coaching which could entail doing some mock interviews, Ms. Pursell added. “Practice makes perfect and it is a good idea for the team to practice for a real interview situation by first doing some mock interviews to practice for the real thing”.

2. Get Consensus on the Ideal Candidate: This may not sound like a wise use of time when you’re being pressured to get hires in the door quickly, but it’s actually the best use of your time, if you want to hire the right people. Meet with your key stakeholders and/or executives and get into agreement on who your ideal candidate is – both from culture fit and a “skills that you need today and three years from now,” perspective. This will help you, and your hiring team, zero in on the right candidates faster.

“Before you can attract the ideal candidate, you first need to know what an ideal candidate looks like for your team and for the specific position you need to fill,” Ms. Pursell said. “If you don’t know what an ideal candidate looks like then you can’t attract them. So, sit down with the key stakeholders in the organization and figure out what exactly this person will be doing in their role and what qualifications they need to have in order to handle the position.”

3. Referrals Are Your Friend: Referral candidates are well known to be higher quality, but also stay longer with an average retention rate of 46 percent vs. the 33 percent retention rate of candidates that come in through your career site, according to Undercover Recruiter. Referrals are especially important if you have a small recruiting team because these candidates also have a much lower cost-per-hire. So, make your co-workers your biggest asset and get a program set up, publicize it well, and advertise the financial rewards and timeframes to your employees so they are incented to spread the word about your open positions.

“Building a referral network is an ongoing process,” said Curt Lucas, president and founder of Chicago-based Invenias Partners. “You’ll maximize your opportunities to secure referrals if you meet with people at business networking events and anticipate their needs and expectations. The key is to deliver added value by supporting people in ways that fall outside the boundaries of expected service. And don’t forget, referrals are a two way street.”

“Offer people career and business-building referrals and they’ll be grateful for your extra attention and personalized approach, Mr. Lucas added. “Be careful not to jump the gun in asking for referrals. “Referrals typically occur when people trust you to deliver top-notch service. Ask people what it would take to secure referrals to their friends and colleagues. If they seem receptive, ask them to recommend the best way to create connections.”

4. Clean up Your Employer Brand: As a lean recruiter, it make sense to smart small and take advantage of the free things like LinkedIn and Glassdoor profiles. And, don’t forget about writing compelling job descriptions that inspire candidates to apply and a career website that works well on mobile.

“Invest in resources that will enhance your reputation as a place where people genuinely want to work,” advised Mr. Lucas. “That means developing a positive work environment with competitive salaries and a tradition of valuing the workforce.”

Building an employer brand takes place online and offline, he added. “Your recruitment and selection process should strengthen candidates’ confidence.  That requires courtesy and professionalism at every step, including when candidates follow-up on a recent interview.”

Make your employees job one, Mr. Lucas continued. “Create an employee referral program that offers cash incentives or other rewards for recruiting qualified candidates.  Sponsor employee involvement in community events and challenge and promote employees whose performance reaches beyond expectations.”

5. Make What You Have Work Harder for You: Think about what you’ve done before that’s worked well. If you’ve run Boolean searches that delivered impressive results, bookmark them for reuse. If you’ve got footage of happy employees talking about their work for a corporate video, put it out there on your career page. If you’ve stockpiled past applicants for a rainy day, pull out their resumes, tag them correctly in your CRM, and see where they might fit now. Sometimes reusing and recycling your core assets is the fastest, simplest way to make a big impact.


Close the Book on Searches and Hire the Best Candidates Quickly
Here’s a storyline that – unfortunately – plays out far too frequently: After interviewing all three final candidates for a senior level position, the members of the hiring team can’t come to a conclusion on which is best for the job.


6. Stay Current on What’s Out There: If you know your competitors are using certain strategies and having success, give them a try, too. Read up on current trends in sourcing, and see if they make sense for your company. Find out the top technologies used by other companies like yours, and consider if they’re right for your needs. You don’t have to come up with brand-new ways to engage with talent. You just need to find quality candidates fast and hire them first.

7. Ask Your Friends in Marketing for Help: Your marketing team comes up with catchy taglines and compelling advertising all day long, so why not enlist their help with your employer brand? They can help you spice up your job descriptions, provide great shots to add to your Glassdoor profile, or give you advice on how to raise awareness about your hardest-to-fill positions.

Tory Clarke“Several boutique executive search organizations, us included, talk about large global company best-practice, boutique service – it’s a real thing but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t adapt,” said Tory Clarke, partner and co-founder of Bridge Partners. “As a smaller boutique organization, one always wants to be conscious of brand recognition and continually leverage opportunities to be more visible. Working on senior-level searches, we try to be content-driven as opposed to gimmicky.”

The way we differentiate, she added, “is very real but that doesn’t mean it can’t be packaged in a way that is compelling to our target audience.” Raising awareness, she said, “about searches we are working on and making sure we are front and center when it comes to the hiring manager’s focus on diversity-inclusion is a key component of our brand strategy and we continually look outside our direct industry, particularly to other professional services organizations, for inspiration.”

Make Technology Work Harder for You

The right technology can help lean recruiting teams boost efficiency by delivering more targeted sourcing, more personalized engagement techniques, and more automated workflows, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg, said the Jobvite report.

It seems like there’s always a new, cool technology that promises to automate the entire recruiting process and magically surface the perfect candidate among hundreds who have applied. Although artificial intelligence and machine learning is all the rage, the technologies are still in their infancy when it comes to recruiting.

8. Try Before You Buy: Put the technology through the paces to make sure that the application lives up to the hype. Push back and lean on vendors to help you show success with quotes and examples from existing customers or an ROI calculator.

9. Start with What Works: As a busy lean recruiter, you don’t have enough time to let technologies fail you. The good news is that many successful experts have paved the way for you with creative ideas for everything from strategic sourcing to streamlining processes. Your task is to figure out which of those ideas you can put to use quickly and efficiently. We recommend starting with a proven ATS and then slowly add in test programs or other applications.

Kick Roadblocks and Time Sucks to the Curb

Lean recruiting teams must be agile enough to respond to new or changing demands, so you’ll need to eliminate the obstacles that typically delay recruiting processes, said Jobvite. The simpler, the better.

Related: 13 Rules for Getting the Most Out of Your Executive Search Firm

10. Say Bye-Bye to Your Biggest Bottlenecks: Hiring quickly is imperative in this economy, so you’ve got to address the hold-ups ASAP. Are there hiring managers who won’t respond to your requests? Are you having difficulty keeping up with communication to candidates? Maybe your bottleneck is simply an over-complicated apply process. Whatever is blocking you, think about the easiest solution to clear your path.

11. Replace Time Sucks with Time Savers: Lean recruiters don’t fall prey to the office’s most notorious time-wasting practices. If you’re using social media to track down candidates, don’t fall into the “I’ll just check my newsfeed” abyss. Stay on task. If you’re meeting with hiring managers to discuss a job description or a candidate, have an agenda mapped out in advance to avoid getting sidetracked. And don’t be afraid to delegate tasks to other people or departments if they’re not critical to the job at hand.

Plan Ahead to Stay Ahead

Even though your day job keeps you very busy, it’s important to plan for the future if you want to stay nimble as market conditions and business requirements change, said the Jobvite report.

Make sure that you’re looking ahead at your roadmap so that you already have a pipeline of candidates for future roles. Here are a few other things to keep in mind:

12. Be Very Clear on Your Hiring Plans: This is as boring as it sounds, but it’s vitally important. You need to understand exactly how many people you need to hire, by when, and that hiring budgets are approved. Pro tip: Make sure that you have market data for each position you’re hiring for; match the title with market data and your budget. That way, you can rest assured that your offering competitive salaries while still staying within fair ranges for the role and your geography and within your budget targets.

“Start with the basics, detail what your timeline is and what you can spend on the process,” said Shelli Herman, president and founder of Shelli Herman and Associates. “Once that is in place, make sure you establish a clear salary range for the position. If you are partnering with a search firm, they can be a valuable resource by providing market intelligence related to competitive salaries for similar roles in your region.”

Once you have these points established, focus on the nuances of the position, said Ms. Herman. “A good search consultant will help you identify and articulate exactly who you want to recruit. Being clear about the nature of the position – its responsibilities, reporting relationships, necessary competencies, and role within the organization – will help in both attracting and evaluating candidates.”

13. Don’t Forget Attrition: Everyone always forgets about attrition in their hiring planning. Based on your current attrition rate, and industry norms, plan for hiring accordingly. The last thing that you want is to get caught flat-footed and miss your hiring targets because you were too busy backfilling roles.

Related: What to Really Consider When Hiring a Search Firm

“The workforce of every organization is fluid, people retire, resign, and get promoted,” said Ms. Herman. “Even in the happiest of these circumstances, the vacancy left when a person is promoted out of a position can be detrimental to company performance. Backfilling a role is often time sensitive and it is tempting to say yes to the wrong person. Recruiting should be efficient, but great candidates are not always available when you want them. The cost of a bad hire is significant, even if the person is the best candidate obtainable at the time. This is why it is fundamental to have a succession plan in place and to continually develop your employees.”

Succession planning is the considered preparation of multiple candidates for any given role, she added. “Leadership must rigorously assess current employees and prepare them months, or better yet, years in advance to take on the next role. This requires evaluation, development, and support. First, assess each person in the organization; identify their aptitudes and areas for improvement. Then connect that to what you need organizationally. How can the gaps between who you have and what you need be closed? Develop the potential leaders who may be ready for succession in a year or two. Provide these potential candidates with knowledge and experiences to build them as leaders. Make sure you identify a few people who have the skills to be promoted should a position become vacant. By continually nurturing a pipeline of leaders, time is on your side when you need to fill a role.”

14. Document Changes: At the beginning of every year, most recruiters have their annual hiring goals locked. But, as is always the case, things change. Either you need to ramp up or down, based on the needs of the business. Make sure to document all changes to the hiring plan, and set expectations accordingly, so that there are no surprises when measuring results.


This Recruiter’s Top Five Secrets for Landing Candidates
With the high demand for quality talent rising, candidates are in the driver’s seat in today’s job market. This means that companies, and the recruiters representing them, must move quickly when they find the right hire. Fred Medero, a managing partner at Kincannon & Reed, offers up some strategies.


Related: Why Finding Effective Leaders Remains a Challenge

As recruiter’s, client servicing, meeting client needs and adding value are key. “Communicating and documenting forthcoming and real time changes and managing expectations are essentials to a fruitful client-recruiter relationship,” said Brett Byers, EVP at The Hawkins Company. “Changes to the recruiting plans for high priority talent to meet critical business needs must be communicated quickly. Managing the expectations around changes in the talent acquisition plan need to be done collaboratively to ensure that all parties are in sync.  In addition, it is important to not only communicate potential changes in direction but also what you are hearing in the marketplace about the perceptions of the organization, total compensation requirements and changing market trends should also be communicated timely so that plans can be adjusted. Constant communication with clients is a must,” Ms. Byers says.

15. Constantly Evaluate the ROI of Your Spend: Make sure that you’re the getting most out of your lean recruiting budget. If something is working, double down on it. If it’s not, drop it like a hot potato, and reallocate those dollars accordingly.

“Since posting on career/job posting advertising sites can eat up a lot of your recruiting budget keeping track of the applicant data produced by career/job posting sites is key,” Ms. Byers says. “Data drives decisions – it is truth telling and should drive you recruiting advertising budget. Career/job postings and social media advertising should be tracked closely to see the type and quality of candidates it produces for your recruitments,” she said. “Sites that produce overwhelming numbers of underqualified “NO” candidates that waste valuable time and clutter your database should be eliminated and avoided.”

Establish a Metrics Minimum

Metrics will help demonstrate the effectiveness of your most basic strategies, so you know whether they’re working or you need to recalibrate as you go forward.

Related: Recruiters Leveraging More Tools to Engage Candidates

As a lean recruiter, your day can’t be consumed by measuring every metric like email open rates or the minute details on ad copy performance, said Jobvite. You need to decide which metrics matter most to you and your organization.

16. Here are a few recommended metrics to always keep your eyes on:

  • Time-to-Hire
  • Cost-per-Hire
  • Visitor-to-Applicant Ratio on your career website
  • Source of Hire

You may also want to consider doing a series of surveys that measure the candidate and hiring manager experience. (SurveyMonkey is a great one, and it’s free!) This will give you great qualitative insights, in addition to quantitative satisfaction numbers.

How Do You Know When it’s Time to Grow?

If you’re doing your job right, you’re helping your company grow – and that means there will likely come a time when you, too, must expand your team’s function, said the Jobvite report. You need a plan in place for tackling that situation as efficiently as you would for any other department.

17. When Do you Grow? When deciding whether to add a new member to your recruiting team, do your homework first. Understand your hiring roadmap, your current hiring team’s capacity, how long it’s taken to hire people in the past, and your budget. Apply those factors to your plan, and see if your current resources will get you there (or not).

“There are many different steps you need to take before determining your plans for growth,” said Asheesh Mahajan, COO of HonorVet Technologies. “The first and foremost question to ask yourself is, how can you consistently deliver the same quality of services with a quicker turnaround?. If your business is evolving, you’ll need a unique blend of employees, technology (AI platforms, ATS, online job portals) and methodologies to support the firm’s growth trajectory.”

18. How Do You Grow? If candidates for a particular type of position are running short, for example, you might need a new sourcer. If your application yield is through the roof, you’ll need help with screening. If your recruiters are spending too much time scheduling, then you may need a team coordinator. And, if you have a big push for a particular skill-set or location, then you may consider bringing in outside help for the short-term.

Related: Common Pitfalls That Will Hinder Any Career Search

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor; and Andrew W. Mitchell, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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