When you bite off more than you can chew

Recruiters are notorious for believing they can conquer the world then complaining because they are overwhelmed. Sprint Recruiting has taught my team and me how to be more successful and efficient by leveraging two week sprints. There are a ton of efficiencies to be realized when you focus on what you can and cannot conquer.

Nathan’s Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest is an annual attraction on the 4th of July that attracts both competitors and audiences from around the world.  Mountains of hot dogs are stacked in front of the competitors as the anxious crowds wait to cheer their favorite competitor.

Takeru Kobayashi, a small framed native of Japan, holds six Guinness Records for eating hot dogs, meatballs and other junk food items. In 2001, he set his first record eating 50 hot dogs in 12 minutes at the Nathan’s Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest. The secret to Takeru’s success is his unique strategy to tackle monumental eating challenges by taking one bite at a time. Where many cringe and crack under the pressure, Takeru continues to set world records with ease.

Takeru realized early in his competitive eating career that the biggest challenge is not the number of hot dogs but the tendency for people to have mental barriers. He simply sets a goal and works toward it in a methodical manner.

When he was asked about his ability to think without limits, Takeru said, “I think the thing about human beings is that they make a limit in their mind of what their potential is”. Unlike Takeru, you may find that members of your team have preconceived limits that hold them back.

Implementing Sprints

So as a recruiting manager, how do you help your team manage through times when they feel they have bitten off more than they can chew? One word: Sprints.

There’s an old saying that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. Helping your team recognize that every project has bite-size pieces can be a good first step. Managing these smaller sized portions is an easy way to be able to avoid being overwhelmed.

As stress mounts, we tend to focus on the enormity of the problem rather than the more manageable solutions. Team members who appear to be overwhelmed need you to coach them on how to find the most practical strategy to complete their work. The real barrier may be all in their perception and an objective viewpoint could be the perfect diagnosis to this common problem.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

The Value of Sprints

Sprints break large recruiting projects into two week periods of focus. The sprints have helped my team and our clients focus on what can actually be accomplished during this defined timeline, allowing us to achieve success more often. The sprints also allow teams to test new ideas or tactics in iterations to learn what works and what doesn’t.

Converting to the sprint can be a mind bender for both recruiters and managers but the goal is to concentrate on the focus factor: How do we define success over the next two weeks? This question sparks conversation between recruiters and clients, forcing each to agree to terms that are doable in that time frame.

Without sprints, recruiters tend to work aimlessly on whatever position is the easiest to fill or the position with the noisiest client. This is a detriment to both the client and the recruiter. We’ve found that the sprint allows us to time block according to the priority set by our client and only on those positions during the sprint. Once we’ve reached our Work in Progress Limits (WIPs) for that role, we move on to the next one in priority. This creates a successful cadence for recruiters and hiring managers to follow during the sprint.


Recruiting for multiple positions at a time can be an overwhelming task. Recruiters should use Takeru as an inspiration for their teams and teach them that often the biggest barrier to success is a mental one that can be overcome with the right perspective. Using sprints can help you accomplish your goals without cracking under pressure. It will not only enhance organizational productivity but also show your client that you committed to making them successful.

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Published by Trent Cotton

I joined the HR industry in 2004 after working as a sales leader in the Financial Services Industry for eight years. After spending his first couple of years in HR trying to fit in, I found my voice. Now I leverage all of the things I once hated about HR to become a consultant and invaluable partner to the businesses I support. My passion to lead, innovate and engage the HR industry. I use my blog at NakedHR.me to reach thousands of readers and provides unique insights into a range of HR and business topics. I currently write for NakedHR.me and SprintRecruiting.com. I contribute to the HRGazzette and to DataDrivenInvestor on Medium. WARNING: my writing style is raw and in your face, not what you would expect from an HR executive. Connect with me on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/trentcotton or on Twitter @TrentCotton.

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