Understanding the importance of prioritization is not just a nice-to-have—it’s a game-changer. Welcome to your ultimate guide to mastering prioritization in recruiting, where we dissect the art of effective decision-making, strategic planning, and setting the right course in talent acquisition.
Finding top-tier talent is the lifeblood of any thriving business, but it’s also a battle of constant challenges: high-volume roles, limited resources, pressing deadlines. The solution to navigating this complex terrain? Prioritization. But we’re not talking about a haphazard approach; instead, we’re delving into systematic, data-driven prioritization methods that dramatically enhance your recruitment process.
Unlike the generic advice found elsewhere, this comprehensive guide is your passport to an optimized recruitment process. Here, you’ll discover how smart prioritization fuels efficiency, drives value, and cultivates a robust talent pool. We provide actionable insights that equip you to strategically allocate resources, streamline your efforts, and identify the key indicators of candidate quality.
If you’ve ever found yourself buried under unmanageable workloads or struggled to make sense of overwhelming applicant data, you’re not alone. And this is exactly where we step in, illuminating your path towards successful recruiting prioritization. So, buckle up and get ready to transform your recruitment approach from the ground up.
In the beginning of Agile Recruiting, we experimented with multiple prioritization techniques, including Red, Yellow, Green and 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so forth. These methods played a key role in highlighting the top roles to focus on during the sprint. What they lacked was a more tangible approach to prioritization in recruiting.
The real game-changer, however, was when we delved into the SCRUM method by Jeff Sutherland, particularly the chapter about the point system. This innovative approach of assigning points as a ‘budget’ for roles revolutionized how we visualized and evaluated our sprint success.
Many readers, after reading my book, frequently contact us with queries concerning the point system. In this post, I want to address the two most common questions.
Determining the Point Allocation
One of the most significant questions we receive is, “how many points?” The answer is entirely subjective. Suppose you’re working with a small department, initiate with a modest 100 points. Agile Recruiting’s charm is that it prompts you to experiment and iterate during the sprint. If you find that 100 points isn’t quite cutting it, feel free to adjust it in the subsequent sprint and compare the difference in productivity.
In larger organizations, we usually bestow department leaders with a heftier budget of 500 points. They are then empowered to distribute these points among their direct reports as they see fit. For instance, suppose an executive has five direct reports. One specific department may be experiencing a high turnover rate or recently acquired many critical roles. It’s within the executive’s purview to grant more points to that particular department.
The distribution could look something like this:
- Department 1: 75 points
- Department 2: 200 points
- Department 3: 25 points
- Department 4: 150 points
- Department 5: 50 points
This approach’s advantage is that department leaders 3 and 5, with fewer points, won’t pressure you to fill all their roles. They realize from their executive that during this sprint, your attention is primarily on department 2, followed by department 4.
Deciding the Importance of Roles
When we introduce this methodology to a new division or client, we typically recommend hiring managers to attend the Agile Recruiting training. It provides them with a complete process overview. One of the inevitable questions they raise is how to determine the importance of different roles.
Getting a mental grip on prioritization in recruiting can be hard for both recruiters and hiring managers. I find it useful to share a matrix with them. The y-axis represents the business impact, which could be risk exposure, revenue loss, or any other impact they deem significant.
The x-axis symbolizes the recruiter’s required effort. As recruiters, we know certain roles require more time and effort to progress due to the role’s complexity, requirements, talent market, or simply the volume of candidates. The recruitment team primarily owns this axis.
Using this matrix, Mission Critical roles are defined as those demanding high recruiting effort and having a significant business impact. You would want to direct your sprint owner to allocate 60% of their points into this quadrant. If your department has 100 points, the 60 points in this area could be split between two roles. This method allows recruiters to focus their limited attention on reaching their WIP limits on these roles first.
The other quadrants follow a similar definition approach. Guiding your hiring partners through this matrix while allocating roles will compel them to define sprint success. As an example, let’s see how our hypothetical manager distributed their roles.
Our Mission Critical roles are the Project Manager and Data Scientist. Looking at the Mission Necessary quadrant, we have three project analyst roles. Logically, you would want to fill the project manager role before hiring analysts, but you may stumble upon suitable analysts while searching for the PM. Makes sense, right?
For Quick Wins, let’s say the MIS Analyst role is in final interviews, so you’d still allocate some points to track your effort.
Adapting to this process might take a little time, but once everyone understands the allocation matrix, the process runs smoothly. The benefit? A scoreboard with an emphasis on prioritization in recruiting:
As you can see from the graphic, once I have points assigned, I have prioritization and a plan of attack. I’m going to work on Peter’s Data analyst role until I hit my WIPs. Nothing else. Once I hit my WIPs on that role, I’ll begin working on Mary’s. This systematic approach gives structure to the chaos known as recruiting.
The beauty of this process lies in its mutual accountability, fostering a team effort to fill critical roles. Recruiters’ ability to swiftly evaluate their progress and identify focus areas creates an irresistible level of efficiency. The visualization of your sprint efforts informs managers of your progress and encourages discussions about potential setbacks.
Prioritization in recruiting promotes iterative success and learning among your hiring partners and the recruiting team with each sprint.
If you would like to see this in action, check out my post in the new Recruiting Mavericks Community (which is still under construction). Check out the video here.
and Sprint Recruiting
Trent Cotton is a highly accomplished leader and strategist with extensive experience in organizational development, talent management, and business operations. With a strong background in HR leadership, he has a proven track record of designing and implementing innovative HR programs that drive employee engagement, retention, and business performance.
As an experienced executive, Trent has worked with some of the world’s leading companies, where he has led and supported HR initiatives across a broad range of functions, including talent acquisition, workforce planning, diversity and inclusion, performance management, and employee relations. He is also highly skilled in HR technology implementation, data analytics, and HR process improvement, helping organizations to optimize their HR operations and drive business results.
If you follow his blog http://www.sprintrecruiting.com or have read his book, Sprint Recruiting, you would experience his raw communication style, his ability to build and lead high-performing teams, and his strategic mindset. He is passionate about creating workplaces where employees can thrive and grow, and he is committed to helping organizations leverage the power of their people to achieve their business objectives.
In addition to his professional experience, Trent is actively involved in his community and has served on several boards and committees supporting education, workforce development, and diversity initiatives.
In his free time, Trent has written two books: “The 7 Deadly Sins of HR” and most recently, “Sprint Recruiting”. He will be releasing “The High Performing Recruiting Team” in the fall of 2023 and “FutHRist” in 2024.
He’s an active participant in the HR Industry and is asked to participate in roundtables or provide keynotes for many organizations. His blog Sprintrecruiting.com reaches thousands of readers and provides unique insights on a range of recruiting topics.