May 10, 2013
This article is part of a series called Opinion.

We often read about a variety of supposedly recruiting-related topics which are designed to have in-house (either full-time or contract) recruiters “do better.” We typically work on 15-25 requisitions at a time, putting in 45-60 hours of work/week for immediate hires. Consequently, if it doesn’t directly lead to helping us “quickly and affordably put more/better quality butts in chairs,” these topics are wastes of our time.

A number of these suggested topics/tasks are useful (if not vital), and others aren’t. However, when we recruiters aren’t “drinking from a firehouse,” we’re wondering how soon they’ll lay us off, so in neither case can we work on these useful tasks. It would be valuable to have a company say to us:

We’re slowing down a bit now, so we’ll have you work on these other important tasks you haven’t had time to do up to now to keep you working for awhile.

Many companies are unable/unwilling to do this, and would rather lose our accumulated knowledge and practice and start all over again in the future with some largely/wholly new crew.

Anyway, back to those favorite wastes of time we’re supposed to do in the negative-5 to negative-20 hours of free time we have during the week:


This is not only a waste of time for recruiters. It’s actually harmful to us.

We recruiters are paid to fill hires for new or open positions. When people stay longer, the amount of work we have decreases (since there’s less turnover), and so does our job security. As I sometimes say, “there’s no job security in filling a full cup, but there is in trying to fill a sieve.” A company can’t reasonably expect us to work against our direct interests when it isn’t prepared to offer solid and meaningful guarantees of continued employment to recruiters when the need for new hires slows down (as discussed above).

(Social Network) Employment Branding

I don’t consider this recruiting. It’s to recruiting what marketing is to sales. (Actually, it is a kind of marketing.) Let the marketing people do it, and figure out how/if it works. It’s like the old joke about advertising:

“Fifty percent of advertising spending is effective, and nobody knows which 50% that is…”

Also, wouldn’t putting the money that would be used for branding be better spent on tried-and-true recruiting methods, like an improved employee referral program with meaningful payout amounts to participants?

Candidate Care/Candidate Experience

While it’s another important area, it appears recruiting decision-makers don’t think so, even to the extent of hiring $3.00/hour virtual candidate care reps to make sure all candidates have a decent experience, while allowing recruiters to concentrate on dealing with candidates who are moving ahead (“for now” or at all). It nicely dovetails into (social network) employment branding, though staying on this side of the recruiting/marketing border. It’s ironic that companies seem very eager to spend so much money and other resources getting the interest of people who might apply to them, while spending so little to improve the experience of those who actually do apply.

Talent Communities

This is a very hot topic right now. Here are my two different definitions:

  1. “A group of individuals with company-relevant skills ‘attracted’ to gain their interest in the company’s skill-relevant activities for possible eventual employment.” This is perhaps the biggest waste of time — it’s passive and slow. How do you measure it? Who’s going to do it … are they existing people or new ones? Who’ll train them or will they learn “on the job”? As said before, wouldn’t the relevant resources be better used on proven methods instead of this trendy “boondoggle”?
  2. “The 2013 term for ‘talent pipeline.'” This is a very good idea, and one most companies should implement. However, recruiters can’t really develop pipelines when we’re spending 50 hours/week on immediate hires. Companies should specifically hire people to create and maintain these talent pipelines of people we’re pretty sure we want to hire, without the schizophrenia of having to simultaneously fill current openings. (I’d like a job like this; wouldn’t you?)

Paperwork/Data Entry/Metrics

This is a case where you can have too much of a good thing. (You’re thinking: Paperwork’s a good thing? Yes, we need all our stakeholders (staffing managers, hiring managers, colleagues, etc.) to know what is going on in clear detail).

However, I’ve learned about two large companies where the recruiters spend 60-70 percent entering and documenting what they do the remaining 30-40% of the time. It would be laughably ludicrous if it weren’t so dysfunctionally pathetic. I haven’t seen a clear case for taking more than about 5 percent of your time, and if real reasons (we’ve been audited”) or imaginary ones (“if we give them all sorts of metrics, then they’ll say we’re serious and important just like them and will give us a ‘seat at the table.'”) justify a greater amount of time than this, spend as much time as you think — just outsource it to some data entry people for $2.00/hour.

I’m looking to hear your thoughts about these, folks.

What would you add to the list of “Recruiters’ Favorite Wastes of Time”?

This article is part of a series called Opinion.
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