These are the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Resourcing Think Tank (RTT) held on Thursday 12th February 2015 hosted by Polycom’s Nick Turner (Talent Manager, EMEA) titled ‘Industry Benchmarking: What is the Optimal “Recruiter Req Load” for Technology Businesses?’.
The following summary has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior HR and Resourcing professionals from leading national and international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.
Businesses seem to be wanting more and more from their in-house recruitment functions including higher req loads, a high level of quality and candidate engagement whilst also wanting to reduce costs; often by reducing team size. It is easy to see that not all of these are possible at the same time so what is the optimum req load per recruiter that can ensure these business needs are being met instead of sacrificed? In this summary we’ll be discussing the influencing factors on recruitment in relation to having a business case for the ‘right’ number of reqs per recruiter specifically for technology businesses.
It is incredibly important to have an easily communicated business case to justify the optimum req load for recruiters. To build this, the business’s expectations of recruiters needs to be articulated taking into account the variables that will have an effect on optimum req load.
- Global justification / consistency – things such as market conditions and location of roles being sourced may well have an impact on the time it takes and process used to source roles. Knowing the optimum req load for a specific location and what impacts this number is essential to helping the rest of the business understand why the recruitment team in one area are working on a certain req load
- Candidate engagement / experience of the brand – making sure this is not sacrificed due to a lack of time (this is particularly pertinent in the current candidate driven market)
- Talent level – is there enough time to really focus on sourcing top level talent?
- Competitive advantage – recruitment team working at their optimum level
Finding the optimum req load
Global hiring manager surveys are a good way of creating a business case which compares the number and quality of hires (time in business, progression within business etc.) to the req load per recruiter within a certain time frame. If this is done regularly results can be compared against each other to try to understand the optimum req load that leads to quality hires.
Education and definition of the process throughout the recruitment journey is crucial for ensuring hiring managers, teams and clients have realistic expectations of what can be achieved by recruiters and in what time scale. Some recruitment functions now use priority lists to decide which roles will be worked on first. Things such as having a full job description and briefing call as well as the role being signed off can increase a role’s priority. This also helps with setting hiring manager expectations and ensuring recruiters don’t waste time on roles that may never be signed off.
Communication of the exact methods of sourcing can also be useful in setting expectations. Hiring managers may be of the view that it is easy to find a long-list of good talent on LinkedIn but do they realise how hard it can be to get any of these people to be responsive? Sometimes it works better when the hiring manager contacts the candidate directly on a platform like LinkedIn as this can have a higher response rate but also makes them realise how long the process takes.
Is recruitment pushing back enough to the rest of the business? It is important to have support from management and the business on the factors that may slow the recruitment process down. For example, if a hiring manager is slowing down a process, the incurred costs could be communicated to them and the business as well as what effect it has on time to hire and candidate experience. This should hopefully make hiring managers realise how important their part in the recruitment process is. Recruitment could also demonstrate the cost of wasted time on roles that were never approved to ensure the business and hiring managers realise the importance of ensuring a role should be worked.
Standard of ATS (Applicant Tracking System)
Gathering and tracking data is essential in creating an efficient recruitment department. However, for many of the businesses that attended this Think Tank it was clear that they had not found the ideal ATS that could also handle CRM and that not having this technology was impacting on the time spent on each role and gathering / analysing the data. It was also clear that ATS providers currently lack integration and companies do not have the right workflows set up for the systems to be as successful as possible whilst working alongside the business. If these systems were as efficient as possible they could lead to behavioural change within the organisation. However at the moment they tend to be used more as an after thought rather than for driving business decisions.
Avature was used by many of the businesses but they were not particularly pleased with it apart from using it for pipelining. Ascendify was mentioned as an ATS to try which also has a CRM bolt on which is something that is crucial as separate CRM systems tend to be used less.
A few other ATS’s that were mentioned that could be worth looking into were Workable, Workday (dependant on when they release their newest software update) and Connexor when adding a CRM such as Smashfly. When making decisions on an ATS it is essential to look at the architecture of the systems that it is built on and evaluate if these are adaptable and can work in the long term and link up to the business’s current systems. Companies also seem to be struggling to find an ATS which is good for pipelining.
It is sometimes best to work with a third party when implementing an ATS. This party needs to understand the organisation’s needs and be able to act as consultants to advise on how it can best be used for this particular organisation.
There are worries that LinkedIn may not always be the tool it is now and therefore relying on this is an issue. Sometimes using excel can be more beneficial but can take time. If companies want recruiters to work at higher workloads the systems need to be effective and efficient and the business needs to understand this when signing up for an ATS. Demonstrating the cost implications when systems aren’t efficient is a good way to make a business case for the need for an effective ATS.
Company Expectations – “businesses get the recruitment function they deserve”
Companies often have expectations of quality candidates, extremely quick hires, high touch with candidates throughout the process, pipelining / keeping warm future talent and at a low cost. However, is this really realistic? Management need to be clear about which aspects are most important to them and which ones they are more willing to sacrifice.
One way that was suggested to get businesses to understand the needs and costs of a recruitment function is to change the model to be more commercial – similar to external functions. This way time and costs (including variable costs which are influenced by business input) as well as the value that is being added by the recruitment function can clearly be communicated. Resourcing functions can even run with their own P&L to clearly define this. Ultimately this creates a very different relationship between the rest of the business and recruitment.
Using data is a good way to get business understanding for the recruitment process and help set expectations. Tracking the physical hours spent on different elements of resourcing and then translating these to costs is a good start. This can be broken down to how long specific sections of the process take so that it can be worked out how many hours need to be spent on different elements for a specific roles. The other parts that are added on that aren’t recruitment then need to be calculated to help show the business why hires may be taking longer than they would expect and give a clear view of the value add. Recruitment could even go as far as to compare the cost of a recruiter to how much money they are saving the business.
Sometimes clearly defining the cost or loss of having less time for certain processes is important to help the business understand the resources needed in terms of time and cost. For example a figure could be given to the business for how much it costs / the time it takes to source for a role that has been pipelined or how much it costs to have a reactive last minute approach. Other statistics such as the time to fill and how long the employee stays with the company could also be used to justify the case for whether resources need to be spent on pipelining.
Another element for consideration that needs to be communicated clearly is the different time / effort it takes to recruit for differing levels / types of roles. It is hard to create an exact chart to show how long each will take to fill as roles are very different but giving a guide may be helpful to the business. The same thing could be done with the effect that differing market conditions have on the recruitment process. If these are communicated to the business in a clear way that they understand and can refer to then their expectations on recruitment are far more likely to be realistic.
If the business does not see the need for other activities such as candidate engagement, Net Promoter Scores ® can be used to track how the candidate found the recruitment process (score out of 10). Businesses need to remember that detractors (scores of 6 or less) may well spread bad messaging about the business both to potential employees and customers and that the candidate may well have been a customer themselves.
When deciding on the optimum req load there was no exact number due to the different nature of businesses, roles and other influencing factors on recruitment. However, most of the businesses did agree that around 12 – 15 reqs was the optimum load for roles that needed a little more attention and 25 was the maximum for the high bulk roles that are being recruited regularly.
The wider business has a large part to play when setting expectations on recruitment. They need to clearly define what they want from the recruitment function and understand that if this is more than just sourcing roles that the req load will have to be lower for each recruiter. A big question that many businesses need to ask is do they want their recruitment team to be 360° recruiters or purely sourcers? For the latter it would be necessary to have dedicated teams or assign hiring managers to deal with other parts of the process such as candidate experience.
It was clear that there was a need for data in justifying to the business how time is being spent, the value add and the need for resources in recruitment. However, businesses currently seem to be lacking the technology or a succinct process to gather this data and properly use it. Ultimately a successful recruitment function should be robust, flexible and have metrics to aid the rest of the business with setting expectations.
Benchmark your recruitment function’s performance against industry peers
We are currently in the process of conducting a mini benchmarking exercise which anonymously compares recruitment data from an array of industries. We’re specifically looking at an organisation’s:
- Number of hires
- Number of vacancies
- Internal / RPO headcount
- Number of declined offers.
Collecting this data has enabled us to gain a greater understanding into the average req load per recruiter in addition to some other valuable insights. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re interested in partaking and accessing our survey results.