Most recruiting organizations will establish a Service Level Agreement (SLA) with their clients but it is only one-way. It outlines the expectations the client or hiring manager can expect from them regarding feedback on the search, number of candidates to be presented, etc. One of the four principles of Sprint Recruiting, “Feedback drives Progress”, was born from our desire to create mutual accountability and increase efficiency in the process. Here’s how we did it.
In the book Sprint Recruiting, I tell how I decided to export candidate data to determine the length of time it took a candidate to make it through our process. I had to check my math a couple of times because I honestly could not believe the average length of time a candidate could spend in our process was 67 days. We are not Google or Facebook, so it wasn’t like candidates were beating down our doors to join the firm. We didn’t have the notoriety for demanding that level of patience from candidates looking for a change in their career. More importantly, it was absurd to require a passive candidate to endure a 67-day journey to join the firm.
One afternoon before sprint recruiting was a fully vetted methodology, I sat at my desk, staring at a bar chart showing our candidate journey. I’m a data nerd and love digging in to see what story data is telling. I will often play around with the numbers to vet my hypothesis because the answer to my question is a bit elusive. Not this time. I was looking at a bar chart that showed two considerable bottlenecks in the process. I’m not talking about two bars slightly above the rest. I’m describing two glaring bars that were 15+ points above the others—the two stages when candidates became trapped involved getting feedback from managers. The first was awaiting feedback from the manager on the candidate’s resume and recruiter write up. The second was after the hiring manager had interviewed them.
We aren’t talking about waiting a couple of days for feedback. The average length of time for both stages was over 15 days. TWO WEEKS! It took an average of two weeks to get feedback from our managers on potentially qualified candidates who had been interviewed by someone at the company. It was mind-blowing and depressing to see the statistics.
Previous to charting this information, I spent a lot of my time on the phone with hiring managers who seemed to enjoy calling me to complain about their open roles not being filled quickly enough by recruiters. Of course, my job is to ensure all of my clients are happy, but about 80% of the time, the obstacle to filling the position is not the shortage of talent presented but the length of time it takes for managers to provide feedback on the candidate.
Some managers would interview great candidates and get a case of FOMO or fear of missing out on another “great” candidate who was out there somewhere. They would want to interview ten or fifteen candidates only to finally decide to pick one of the first five interviewed. Of course, by the time they decided, the qualified candidate had accepted another role or lost interest in our firm. We would then start the process repeatedly and recreate the chaos while our candidate experience and the brand suffered in the market.
When we began testing sprint recruiting, the feedback was not one of the principles. We assumed as we became more efficient, we would have more time to track down the feedback on the roles. While the efficiencies of sprint recruiting did allow us to accomplish this, we were still only reducing the candidate journey by a few days. We wanted to see a more significant reduction, so we began focusing on the principle Feedback Drives Progress.
Think of sprint recruiting as a vehicle, and feedback is the gas to keep it moving. It should happen often and should have a deadline to maximize efficiency. We determined the feedback needed to be a principle to keep the process moving and establish mutual accountability. This most important feedback is from the hiring manager. (Read more about The Importance of Hiring Manager Feedback)
We tried various deadlines while building out the sprint recruiting methodology. Our first iteration required feedback in 24 hours, which we realized early on was a bit unrealistic. Things happen on both sides that can prevent someone from being available to give the necessary feedback. Additionally, we desired quality feedback, not just feedback for the sake of feedback. We wanted to provide our clients with enough time to review the information and make an informed decision. If not, we would find ourselves in the same feedback loop just more often.
Our team decided on 48 hours because it gave enough time to evaluate the candidate’s qualifications and gave the recruiters enough time to work on other positions in the sprint. The 24-hour limit caused recruiters to stop too often to receive feedback and adjust their strategy. This cut into the focus time to source candidates for the other priority roles. If the limit were any longer, we would have too much dead time, and we could lose out on good candidates. Once a manager conducts an interview, they have 48 hours to provide feedback to the recruiter. WIP limits helped create stopgaps to prevent managers from requesting 15 or more candidates to interview. It trained the managers to give feedback to receive more candidates.
There is a difference between the generic feedback loop involved in traditional recruiting versus the sprint recruiting method.
|Traditional Recruiting||Sprint Recruiting|
|Each activity like the search strategy design, development, testing (fly-by) is considered as an individual phase.||All the activities are done in a smaller time cycle. The constraint of the sprint paired with the points assigned for priority emphasizes the mandate to get feedback on presented candidates often and quickly.|
|The customer typically reviews candidates at the end of the initial search. Any changes to the needs of the manager or the search strategy involve significant rework. This increases the hidden costs of the search: recruiter time, loss of productivity, and loss of efficiency.||If the feedback is obtained within days, it may be very easy for the team to make quick changes and increase the potential for more qualified candidates quicker.|
|Those roles most critical to the firm may be lost in the shuffle in traditional recruiting. Roles with hiring managers who procrastinate in the feedback process may cost the recruiter a lot of time and recruiters tend to move to where the fire is.||The business and the recruiter are focused on the highest priority roles so there is mutual accountability and partnership in the feedback process.|
Frequent feedback is vital for Sprint Recruiting teams to understand whether the team is going in the direction as expected. If you have already created a SLA, I would challenge you to review it to see if you placed any responsibility or expectations on your client. If you haven’t, you’re really missing out on an opportunity to create some mutual accountability while also increasing the efficiency in your processes.
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