In a recent Recruiter Realness post, I shared some of my favorite insights from other recruiting pros. One of those highlights came from Josh Rock, an experienced, top-tier recruiting leader. He mentioned how we should “always be recruiting.”
On one hand, his advice can (and should) be taken literally: You’ve got vacancies, so you should always be trying to fill them.
However, as you probably also know, recruiting is far more complex than that. So I’d like to offer some additional points of clarity related to what it means to always be recruiting.
Always be building relationships and pipelines.
If recruiting were nothing more than filling open vacancies, the starting and ending points would be a straight line instead of an ongoing process. I’ve likened it to one of my favorite childhood games, Chutes and Ladders, where you could be close to victory (filling a role) and then along comes a chute/unexpected roadblock (a declined offer) that suddenly sets you way back.
Moreover, you could be advancing in the game one space at a time (struggling to identify a qualified applicant) and then when you least expect it, you come upon a ladder to climb (a referral who is a great).
The point is that good recruiters are always forecasting and thinking ahead for upcoming roles. We’re connecting and networking with individuals who may not be a fit for our current openings but who we want to keep in our pipelines for the future or connect to an immediate opening. That’s ultimately how to win the game.
Always be responsive.
One of the biggest complaints that job-seekers and other stakeholders have about recruiters is that we are often slow to respond or completely unresponsive. While I agree that this criticism can at times be valid, there are instances when not setting expectations and/or miscommunication is to blame.
Recruiters should be diligent in providing status updates to applicants and to hiring managers, but we must first communicate the frequency and manner by which we are able to do so.
Some of the job-seekers who complain of ghosting or who would like a personalized response are those who have not advanced in the recruiting process for a particular role. Given the volume of candidates that some recruiters are trying to manage, the expectation that we can customize communication and reach out to every person who expresses interest in every one of our vacancies is unreasonable and not an effective use of our time. So sometimes the best we can do is send an automated, bulk message from the ATS to those who we’ve yet to make contact. Still, you have to ensure that contact occurs.
It is never acceptable to leave anyone hanging or to ignore an applicant who you’ve been in contact with over the course of the recruiting process. It is also unacceptable to demand more communication and respect from hiring managers than you’re willing to provide to them.
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Always be tracking your successes and your missed opportunities.
Early in my career, there was absolutely no better feeling than (literally and figuratively) ringing the bell to signify a signed offer, confirmed start date, and a filled position — especially when it was a role categorized as hard to fill or when the new hire was a coveted purple squirrel.
As I matured, though, the number of vacancies filled was equally as important to tracking other recruiting metrics. I became more interested in time to fill in the context of the difficulty of and specialization of the roles under my purview. I considered that, in many cases, how long it took a person to start was more critical than the amount of time between opening a position and signing the offer letter.
I also developed a deeper appreciation for the source of hires, how diverse candidate slates were, the quality of those hires, and how many times I was refilling the same roles. I paid more attention to recruiting funnels to determine how many applicants reached each stage in the recruiting process before we made a hire. Similarly, I focused more on the stage at which we were having the most difficulty, the percentage of vacancies my team was responsible for filling in relation to the total number of vacancies in the organization, and the number of offers that were accepted.
In thinking about all these metrics, I developed a greater appreciation for the missed opportunities. I don’t want to call them failures because I learned to reimagine NOs as Next Opportunities. Examining areas for improvement with the same enthusiasm and detail as the successes made me a better recruiter. And using data to track missteps and course-correct has proven more valuable in the long-term than using it only to measure short-term successes.
Always be learning new ways to elevate your work.
None of us knows everything about recruiting. It’s ever-changing and there is never a one-size-fits-all approach or strategy that works in every case. More experienced recruiters may not spend enough time learning and engaging new technologies to make themselves more efficient. While newer recruiters may be inclined to adopt the latest and greatest trend to the exclusion of proven, tried, and true practices. Striking a balance is the key to all of us improving ourselves and making recruiting the best it can be.