A Click in Time: Automating Processes

When tasks are automated, the assumption is that the automation of the task will save some time and allow the practitioner to complete more transactions better and faster. In recruiting automation, some systems have failed to live up to this assumption – with them some things improved, and others actually got worse. I’ve seen recruiters not use their systems because they claimed they could get the job done faster with a stack of paper resumes and a few colored folders. Yet, automation – well implemented and used – continues to improve and influence the recruitment process toward greater efficiencies and effectiveness. Let’s look at some specific recruiter desktop activities and see what measure of time savings are possible through automation. Prescreening Resumes Manually: A 528-Hour Proposition

One obvious time-consuming area for recruiters is viewing and sorting through loads of resumes. Let’s take an example of reviewing 50 resumes. (For now, this example will not factor in passive sourcing activity). I know some recruiters spend as little as five seconds per resume, and others spend several minutes per resume to determine if it’s a “keeper,” a “maybe,” or a “no way.” Say you are a top-notch recruiter, reviewing resumes at an average speed of 1 minute per resume. That’s nearly an hour to go through the first resumes for one position at one time (1 minute x 50 resumes = 50 minutes). Now suppose you have 40 active requisitions, and at any given time you’re reviewing resumes for a third of those either electronically or on paper or in e-mail – the point is you’re still reviewing to find the top candidates. A typical week might bring you direct activity of reviewing 650+ resumes, which translates into approximately 11 hours per week to do an initial review on resumes (40 req./3 = 13.3 x 50 = 667 minutes). If you multiply this time by the weeks available in the year (let’s say 48, subtracting a few for holidays, vacation and other work), that leaves you with devoting 528 hours, which equals 66 eight-hour working days, or basically 13 working weeks of your year reviewing resumes! For some recruiters, this is still a conservative estimate; for them, resume reviewing may occupy 50% of their overall work time. Automated Resume Prescreening – No Time at All Now let’s apply some automation to this process. In the early generation of automated applicant tracking, the “keyword” search was seen as the panacea for saving time on resume reviewing activity. The problem was that early attempts at this functionality caused recruiters to miss candidates, apply very subjective keyword searching skills, and often could take longer to retrieve and click through the resumes and keywords than, again, the ubiquitous paper version. Currently, automating this task has escalated to built-in prescreening technology that can operate at a very general level (like separating out candidates who can’t relocate right away), to more sophisticated prescreening (like displaying all candidates who have MCSE certifications and other required criteria at the top of the list) – thus eliminating significant reviewing time. This prescreening/sorting now can literally be done as fast as you can click! Email Correspondence A more subtle task for a recruiter is simply utilizing email and managing correspondence with candidates, hiring managers and other recruiters. Let’s say you don’t have an applicant tracking system that provides multi-event automatic emailing to these key groups in the recruiting process. Instead, you have to make the transition and enter the relevant data from one application to another, and then be able to keep track of the correspondence. What amount of time could you spend going from the place where you are viewing a resume to click on another application and enter the email? Using an estimate of 10 seconds to make this transaction 20 times per day, you could spend (read: waste) one working day per year on this single activity. Here again, seconds add up to minutes, to hours and cumulatively, consume significant time out of your recruiting week, month, and year. That’s time you’ve spent without getting any closer to your goal. Push Search and Push Source Now let’s say your system not only pre-screens candidates, sends out automated notices to all the pertinent players or provides auto-links to emails within the system, but also pre-searches your database at the moment a new requisition is entered and offers to push an introductory email to these potentially matching candidates. In addition, the system also sends out an alert to your email or phone/pager that let’s you know a top candidate has just applied to your position and provides their call back number. Just-in-time information like this could literally save hours of time with every occurrence. Now how much time are you saving with this automation? Applied to a full load of requisitions, the implications could translate into weeks of sourcing and searching activity time saved throughout the year. Time to Spare? If even some of this automation is present in your operation, you should experience times savings in your recruiting tasks – time that can you can apply to high value activities such as:

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  • Take on more reqs (OK, maybe not the best suggestion)
  • Spend more face-to-face time evaluating candidates
  • Spend more time with hiring managers…getting to know your customer
  • Spend more time building more effective job descriptions
  • Spend more time uncovering effective sourcing channels
  • Spend more time nurturing communications and relations with potential candidates
  • Spend more time researching and understanding the business you are recruiting for
  • Attend some industry conferences or networking events
  • …Take a vacation!

There’s not enough room here to list all the recruiting activities that can be and have been automated. And the next generation of systems will look beyond automating what was done manually to automating and innovating what has never been possible before. We’ve already seen examples of this level of automation with activities such as receiving alerts on top candidates, a non-existent functionality prior to automation. In the future, look for technology itself to catalyze new possibilities in the recruiting process and profession. <*SPONSORMESSAGE*>

Gretchen Sturm (gsturm@recruitsoft.com) is Knowledge Manager of Services with Recruitsoft, the leading provider of Internet-based recruiting solutions for major corporations. She manages the implementation, eLearning and product knowledge transfer for Recruitsoft's consulting services and global client base. Her career has focused on integrating technology into the full hiring cycle and establishing effective Internet recruiting strategies. Previously, Sturm managed the recruitment technology and online recruiting areas of the Unisys worldwide recruiting team and oversaw recruiting technology and sourcing for CIGNA Corporation's US-based operations.

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