A Perfect Week, The Perfect Day: Time Management for Recruiters

One of the best things about being a recruiter is that you can pretty much predict the events and activities that will occur during the day. It’s also easy to identify the things you need to get done, prioritize them accordingly, and then plow through the day and accomplish it all. Yeah, right…in our dreams! Actually, one of the biggest challenges recruiters face is trying to manage their schedules and accomplish the “tasks at hand” in a work environment of constant change, interruptions, fire fighting, etc. If you’re a recruiter, your time management, planning, multi-tasking and organizational skills are tested to the max each and every day. It’s often enough to drive a normal person crazy! A Perfect Week, The Perfect Day In a past article of mine, Steering Clear of Recruiter’s Rut, I discussed tactics you could use to inject life into the day-to-day grind of recruiting to become more productive, efficient and have more fun. In order to beat recruiter’s rut, right after that article was written (and to practice what we preach), our office adopted “A Perfect Week, The Perfect Day” routine. This routine has personally helped me (and our entire team):

  • Dramatically improve my time management, planning, and organizational skills
  • Manage multiple projects/ and tasks
  • Not forget things that often used to fall off my plate
  • Get more things accomplished in less time!

Can you have a perfect week? A perfect day? The answer is probably no. While we strive to complete each week and every day perfectly, it rarely ever happens. But if you take a defeatists’ attitude and never try to have a perfect week (or perfect day), I can pretty much promise you it will never happen. A great analogy to illustrate this point is that of a football coach (or any athletic coach for that matter) preparing for a game. All week long, a coach and his assistants spend 16 hours a day in preparation and practice to prepare the perfect game plan. They try to predict what the other team is going to do and, based on that prediction, develop a plan of action to do the things necessary to win the game. Six days of intense preparation, planning, and practice ó all to find out that one minute into the game, their opponent’s strategy is vastly different than what they prepared for! So what do they do? Throw in the towel and give up? No! They adjust their plan of action (based on the new strategy of the opponent) to win the game. If you talk to a coach, this happens more often than not. So why do they spend all that time preparing for the game if they don’t know the other teams strategy? There are lots of reasons. But minimally: “A plan that needs to be changed is better than no plan at all.” To me, this is no different than what recruiters face each and every week. How many times have you started a week thinking that you have X requisitions to work on and X things to get done ó and then by 10:00 a.m. Monday every thing has changed! Positions go on hold, candidates don’t accept offers, and new positions are thrown on your plate. This is why our office created “A Perfect Week, The Perfect Day” routine to help set a strategic course for the week AND to allow for changes that might pop up each and every day. Developing A Perfect Week At the beginning of each week (Friday before you leave for the weekend, over the weekend, or early Monday morning), we list all the activities that we want to accomplish in the upcoming week. We organize these activities into two categories:

  1. Billable. Billable are activities directly related to hiring new employees (a recruiter’s primary job). In Business 101 class in school, they called these “line” activities: things that directly contribute to making money for your organization. For recruiters, we get paid for hiring quality people! Examples include prospecting for candidates, making offers, attending job fairs, setting up interviews with hiring managers, qualifying a requisition, etc.
  2. Non-billable. Non-billable (or staff) activities are things that you must accomplish and typically support your line activities. Examples include entering candidates into your ATS, developing postings for the Internet, activity reporting, department meetings, training, paperwork, etc.

We then document activities in our perfect week as either actions or results. Some examples of actions:

  • Source six hours on the Branch Manager position.
  • Get requisition from Horseman for the SVP of IT.
  • Attend EEOC/Compliance training on Wed.

Examples of results:

  • Get three submittals to Koesel for the IT audit position.
  • Close Doris Kellsy! Get a start date!
  • Get Lisa and Catherine scheduled for interviews with Minnick.

The template (and an example) we use to document our perfect week would look something like this:

David’s Perfect Week Billable:

  • Source six hours for BM position. Get three submittals to Minnick.
  • Get requisition from Horseman for the SVP of IT.
  • Close Kellsy and get her to start on the 24th!
  • Attend job fair in Fairfax ó hopefully get 10 good candidates.
  • Source four hours for SVP position ó goal is two submits to Craig.
  • Set up date for Lisa and Catherine to interview with Williams. Non-Billable
  • Finish website information and post.
  • Do edits on website from CC.
  • Make travel arrangements for Charlotte trip.
  • Do expenses.
  • Pull of posting of the Internet.
  • Update job posting for BM position.
  • Attend EEOC/Compliance training on Wed.

Every Monday morning, we have a team meeting to discuss last week results and our plan of action for the upcoming week. We have fun with this meeting! We critique our own performance. We discuss how the week went ó what we did get done; what we didn’t get done. We rate our performance like grade school: A through F, plus or minus acceptable. We post everyone’s perfect week on a flip chart for all to see. This makes it is easy for review purposes. We also use this meeting to share information, to ask for advice, and to get our “game faces” on for the week. If you are part of a “remote” team, have a conference call. If you work by yourself, meet with yourself! The Perfect Day To actually accomplish the activities outlined in our perfect week we create the perfect day. Prior to starting the day, we review our Perfect Week (to see what we still need to accomplish) and work in progress from the previous day and develop a plan of action. For peer support, we email out this schedule to our teammates to kick off the morning in a positive manner. A typical perfect day email looks like this: 7:30-8:30 Planning, return emails, call Bob about Sue

8:30-11:00 Sourcing for SVP position (database search and Internet research)

11:00-12:00 Interview with Joe Edwards

12:00-1:00 Lunch; return emails, voicemails; call to cancel hotel reservation

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1:00-1:30 Meet with Barb to qualify new position

1:30-4:00 Call/email all candidates I found in dbase and through next research

4:00-5:00 Return all emails from net postings

What I want from my day: I hope to get the requisition qualified with Barb and find at least two qualified candidates (and talk to them) for the SVP position! The perfect day routine forces us to keep reviewing all the activities we want to accomplish during the week. By sending out the email (and receiving them from my peers), it forces all of us to plan our day. Questions on “A Perfect Week, The Perfect Day” Routine

  • Does each week and every day go perfectly? Absolutely NOT! Like a coach preparing for a game, rarely do I see it go perfect. But I do know that with this tactical level of planning, I am getting more done and managing my time better than ever before.
  • What happens if the activities you document in your perfect week change 180 degrees during the week? Then I readjust and develop a new plan of action. Plans were meant to be changed. That is what The Perfect Week routine is for. To allow for changes that occur during the week.
  • How important is the format for the perfect week/day routine? Not important at all. Do what makes sense for you and document it with tools that you use. (I still use a day planner. I know many of you probably use Outlook or a Palm Pilot.)

Helpful Hints

  • Frontload your week. I like to play a game with myself and try to check off as many activities as early as possible in the week. This is motivating and allows me the option of cutting out a little early on Friday knowing I had a great week. What an awesome feeling!
  • Have fun with this routine. In our planning meeting, or when we shoot our perfect day routine via email, we send motivational quotes, jokes, etc. to lighten up the day.
  • Create contests against your teammates or yourself. When planning your perfect day, challenge your peers (or yourself). See who gets a hold of the most candidates; gets a candidate to accept an offer; etc.

This routine has dramatically improved my planning, time management, and organization skills. More importantly, I am getting more done in less time and not forgetting to do things that in the past often fell off my plate. If your having a difficult time managing all the things us recruiters have to get done during the day, I would encourage you to develop a perfect week and plan the perfect day! Let me know how it works.

David Szary is senior vice president and general manager, recruiting services, HealthcareSource. HealthcareSource is a leading provider of talent management solutions for healthcare.

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