How to attract job seekers in 2020

One thing I enjoy about Talent Acquisition is the need for a constant change in the strategy, tactics and tools. A hot topic in the recruiting world is how to attract the modern workforce, including millennials and generation Z. In a blog post on their site, Hibob conducted a study to understand what truly motivates a candidate to accept a new role. Here are some insights on how to attract job seekers in 2020.

Photo by Markus Spiske temporausch.com

It’s not just the money, it’s growth potential

Sometimes, companies believe candidates can be wooed by increases in total compensation. According to the Hibob survey, 56% of employees ranked opportunities for growth as more important than salary. Companies that have extensive learning and development programs along with career pathing sessions with employees will become the companies to rival over the next two years.

A recent Forbes survey found nearly half of workers are unsatisfied with learning and development plans and investments. Recruiting, retaining and engaging the workforce, according to Forbes, hinges on a new kind of competitive thrust: an emphasis innovative training methods, particularly for leadership training.

We have already seen a shift in 2019. Companies are investing in mentorship and similar programs to help engage their current workforce while marketing to potential employees as well.

Through its Career Choice program, Amazon has paid for tuition and fees of some 10,000 workers who are pursuing careers in in-demand fields. The program includes on-site classes held in the company’s facilities. In July 2019, Amazon went even further and announced a $700-million investment to jumpstart upskilling. The goal of the program-help employees create more opportunities for themselves in an economy that makes it difficult to do so.

This value proposition will soon replace the “Show me the money” candidate mantra. Career growth will become one of the primary ways to attract talent in 2020.

Photo by Pixabay

Work/Life Integration

There is no such thing as a work-life balance. The real nomenclature should be a work-life integration. As companies continue to explore and implement flexible work hours and locations, employees are finding more ways to integrate work and life.

Hibob’s survey found 45% of employees valued time off offered as a key deciding factor. Thirty five percent of the workforce also looked at the commute and the potential impact to the work/life integration as a vital factor in accepting a new role.

Companies that market their flexible work arrangements or commitment to a balanced approach to life will win out in the immediate future. Working remotely along with the integration of life and work will continue to be a topic companies will need to address to remain competitive in the talent war.

Photo by StartupStockPhotos

Company Culture of Meaningful Work

Culture is king! The survey discovered 69% of the candidates indicated they would be wary of accepting a job if the employees did not seem engaged in their current roles. The social media native generations do a lot of research on company culture prior to accepting a job offer . They not only review what companies showcase on websites and social media but also what your employees are saying.

Glassdoor and similar firms have made a killing removing the veil and showcasing how employees truly feel about their workplace. Sites like LinkedIn and other networking sites allow for candidates to reach out directly to employees with a firm to get a real perspective on the company’s culture.

There is no place to hide if your culture stinks.

Candidates expressed how they want to be a part of something bigger and more impactful. Companies have begun to change their employer branding to market to this intrinsic need candidates have. CNBC highlighted some examples in its post on November 6th on the topic:

Chipotle doesn’t serve burritos, it “provides food with integrity.” Facebook doesn’t sell advertisements, it “bring[s] the world closer together.” WeWork doesn’t sublease office spaces, it “elevates the world’s consciousness” 

CBNC

In a survey conducted by SurveyMonkey, 69% of workers said it was “very important” to them to work for a company with clearly stated values. Offering candidates the opportunity to have meaningful relationships and work will become a critical piece for recruiters and firms to market.


The modern workforce will continue to evolve which will require talent acquisition teams to evaluate their plans to attract job seekers in 2020. To stay relevant and attractive to candidates, companies will have to focus on these four areas in 2020.

What trends are you seeing?

If you would like to learn more about Sprint RecruitingClick here to join our mailing list. You’ll get premier access to:

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A Powerful Tool for Labor Market Insights- Emsi

Data. It’s become my new addiction at work.

Workforce Analytics is becoming a hot topic in HR, and Emsi has a powerful tool to gather labor market insights to help you analyze your workforce. After participating in a demo recently, I walked away with some interesting insights on my own workforce that I thought I would share in a post.

This is not a recommendation for the Emsi product and I am not compensated for this review.

First, the data points

Emsi combines three data points to create its powerful profile insights:

  • Government Data: Emsi gathers 18 billion data points from dozens of government data sources that is updated quarterly. Sure, we have access to the same information but who has the time to go and pull the information and determine what is or is not relevant?
  • Job Postings: The platform reviews hundreds of millions of online job postings and adds them to the data sets. It also provides filters by company, job title, skills, keywords, and more. This is a game changer, providing a wealth of insight into what employers are looking for in their hiring process.
  • Online Social Profiles: To complete the view, Emsi pulls in individuals’ employment and education profiles from social media by company, job title, industry, alma mater, and skill sets. (This was the first firm I had seen bring in government data with the social profiles.)
  • Compensation Data: This information is sourced from government data sources.

Combined, these four sources provide users a 360 view of critical data points for anyone in Talent Acquisition. Emsi can deliver this robust data set through its online platform, API plugins, and they also have a consulting arm of economists who will tailor the information for your organization.

For the demo, I asked the team to look at software developers in Birmingham and Houston which is relevant to some project work I’ve been working on lately. Below, I’ll share some of the report highlights provided by the Emsi tool.

Now, on to the good stuff!

Working with the Emsi platform

First, I have to say the UI (user interface) for Emsi is incredibly easy to use. As you can see from the screenshot above, you only have to provide the job title or keyword along with the city to begin your quest. There are advance filters that include job title relative to a location (MSA), drive time, or a radius from an address. This is key to consider, especially in large MSAs where the data set could be influenced by commute time and the radius from the location of the job.

Emsi provides a pretty slick executive summary outlining the number of potential targets in the market along with the compensation. I wasn’t too impressed with this considering there are a number of platforms that provide this same information.

What I was impressed with was the number of postings for the job title added in this section. Honestly, I had never thought to look at the number of job postings as a KPI for recruiting to evaluate the competitive landscape for jobs. Another interesting component of Emsi’s talent analytics is the ability to hover over and click into any of these data sets to drill down into the information. For the Posting section, you can even leverage the system to find out what companies are hiring for the job title along with the actual job description/posting.

Emsi gives Talent Acquisition leaders all the data they need to help develop strategies that actually work. With only a few clicks of the mouse, you have access to information you need including:

  • Heat maps showing where workers are willing to commute from
  • The available talent pool
  • Average salary range
  • What other companies are competing for the same talent
  • Local community colleges with related programs

A true view of the labor market

One you have your parameters set, Emsi provides a downloadable report detailing several areas pertinent to hiring discussions. Here are a few of my favorites.

Where are the candidates hiding?

In my example, Emsi found that most of the software developers with the skills needed are in Houston, TX versus Birmingham, AL. (No surprise there.) This feature is especially helpful when meeting with your client to determine to focus your hiring strategy and in some cases, where to open a hub.

What I liked was the breakdown of the larger MSA Houston. The tool shows the number of candidates by area within the MSA which is especially helpful when sourcing. Also, in the case when you are determining where in an MSA to open a location, this feature could be invaluable.

Next on the target list after location is companies with the largest number of candidates. LinkedIn provides this same information but I prefer how Emsi displays the information. This is especially helpful when there is a disturbance at one of the major players and allows sourcing agents to sharpen their tactics for maximum impact.

There are thousands of permutations of job titles to search and even the best recruiter can’t write the Boolean search string to capture them all. Emsi takes the work out of the process by providing the top job titles for you to focus on.

Supercharge your college recruiting with Emsi

The college recruiting strategy is vital to any firm that wants to stay ahead of the talent war. One of the more frustrating parts of developing the strategy is identifying which schools and which programs we should target. Emsi takes the guesswork out of this process.

Sure, knowing all of the nation’s top schools is great but the likelihood of getting a graduate to relocate to your area might be a tough argument. That’s where Emsi’s talent analytics data comes in. Emsi helps by providing an accurate view of colleges in the area along with the top programs for your future rockstar candidate.

I leveraged this report with our college recruiter to ensure we were aligned with recruiting from the colleges listed above. This was great but what was really powerful was taking the strategy to the next level by identifying the deans of the various programs to find ways to create a more meaningful connection to the students.


Although I’ve only outlined a couple of the features I liked about Emsi in this post, you can see this platform could be a game changer for your recruiting efforts. If you are like me and depend on data to develop and execute your Talent Acquisition strategies, Emsi is a great tool to add to the arsenal.

If you would like to learn more about Sprint RecruitingClick here to join our mailing list. You’ll get premier access to:

  • Get helpful recruiting tips sent to you monthly!
  • Read each chapter of the book Sprint Recruiting as it’s written
  • Resources including graphics, reports and training
  • Special Q&A sessions to learn how Sprint Recruiting can help you transform your Talent Strategy.

How Can AI Transform Recruiting?

Is anyone else getting tired of the “Artificial Intelligence will enslave humanity” plot line most movies have had over the last decade? The Matrix. I, Robot. Terminator. What do all of these movies have in common? The evil character is Artificial Intelligence, bent to enslave the human race.

Unfortunately, there is a huge segment of the recruiting industry that views AI in a similar way. They begin running like Chicken Little, convinced the sky is falling but recruiting should be the one industry at the forefront, implementing AI into as many process and systems as we can.

Matt Fischer, President and CTO at Bullhorn recently wrote a piece for RecruitingDaily.com about the possibilities of AI in recruiting. According to Bullhorn’s Global Recruitment Insights and Data for North America, only 27 percent of recruiters are prioritizing investment in digital transformation to improve their operations. That’s a dismal number for our industry.

I wrote a piece on how I believe AI will not replace HR. So, being the nerd I am, I thought it’s time to address how AI can revolutionize how recruiters work. Here’s how AI could transform recruiting.

AI in recruiting
Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

The dedicated sourcer

One of the constant struggles for successful recruiters is there are only so many hours in the day to source quality candidates. Sure, there are ways to save your Google or LinkedIn searches but AI could definitely take sourcing to another level.

Not only could the AI could aid recruiters by learning what successful candidate looks like. Over time, the AI tool could continuously refine its search to bring you only the best, making your life easier and giving you time back.

The Co-Interviewer

Imagine having an AI prompt you to ask certain screening questions based on a candidate’s interest in the job. In Matt Fischer’s article on RecruitingDaily.com , he mentions the ability for AI to one day be able to rate the answers given by the candidate and suggest additional jobs you could sell the candidate on.

I welcome the idea of an AI assistant to look for things I can’t see in a candidate while also helping me keep engaged talent looking at other opportunities open with my firm. I can’t count the number of times I’ve hung up with a candidate, only to realize hours later I should have talked to them about another job I was working on.

With AI in recruiting, we could say goodbye to those missed opportunities!

The Ultimate Recruiting Coordinator

I love my recruiting coordinators but I often think of how mundane a lot of their tasks have to be. (And thank God they do them for me.) When decisions have to be made regarding allocations of funds for headcount, I always struggle between putting the additional position in the recruiting coordinator role or adding another recruiter.

With AI, I could finally have a more cost effective alternative. Recruiters who embrace the use of AI and machine learning recognize many of the tasks of recruiting coordinators could be streamlined and automated. This increases efficiencies in the recruiting process and the candidate experience.

My hope would be as AI begins “taking over” more of these automated functions, we could leverage our recruiting coordinators to become less operational and function more like a concierge.


The next time you hear a speaker talk about AI in recruiting or read an article about the subject, don’t go all Chicken Little! Recruiting could benefit substantially by partnering with AI for the reasons I listed above and so many more.

That’s right…. I’m not done with this subject!

Increase Employee Retention – Create an Internal Career Advisor!

Perhaps one of the downfalls of companies’ recruiting strategy is this elusive idea that external talent is “sexier” than the talent already in the company. Recently, there has been a lot of focus on the need to grow your own talent as a way to increase engagement and keep hiring costs in check. There are three reasons why investing in an Internal Career Counselor is the future of recruiting.


The 32% growth mark is higher than last year’s rate of 19%, Cognizant said. Among job categories, work culture had the highest year-over-year growth; career counselors, a component of the work culture group, accounted for a “seven-fold” jump in job postings, suggesting a “growing need for work culture specialists within businesses to help their employees adapt to digital change and acquire the skills needed to succeed in the future,” Cognizant said. HRDive.com

The Internal Career Counselor saves the company money

Photo by Ibrahim Rifath on Unsplash

Although I hate the cliche “War for Talent”, it is pretty accurate, especially in the tech industry. Candidates with the skills in the highest demand can just about name their price in any market. Unfortunately, this usually leaves the recruiter and manager hiring entry level talent at higher compensation levels than current employees. The level of production this entry level talent can provide, relative to the pay they require, does not make good business sense.

This strategy also creates an issue with retention of current employees who determine they are no longer valued. As these employees leave, companies not only lose on the employee’s precedental knowledge but also lose the amount of time and money invested in them.

Increase employee engagement

The amount of time and money invested in employee engagement is staggering. Companies are finding innovative ways to maintain high morale as more and more studies show this increases productivity.

Internal Career Counselors can boost engagement by taking the normal external recruiting strategy and turning it inward. They serve as not only an internal sourcing agent but also an advocate for the employee. We’ve only been testing our pilot Internal Career Counselor program for a month but have already received numerous Thank You notes from employees who valued someone taking the time to give them a fighting chance for the job.

Rather than simply receiving the “Thanks but No Thanks” declination email, the employees who have an internal career counselor receive valuable feedback on how to prepare themselves for their next role. This especially helps when they do not receive the job! Employees who are given a plan to succeed that they can drive will feel more valued by their company and thus, become even more engaged.

The Internal Career Counselor will help employee retention

It sounds cheesy but Internal Career Counselors help employees feel the love and serve as another entry point into the employee’s state of mind. Think of how many times employees leave and it’s a complete surprise to their managers and HR team.

Another point of contact for employees is always a good thing, especially when they feel as though the person is genuinely interested in the advancement of their career. It always amazes me how more open employees were with internal career counselors. They share not only their desires for better, more fulfilling careers but also any concerns they have about staying with their current company. This is a valuable insight companies can gain by adding an internal career counselor to their recruiting strategy.


Our Sprint Recruiting methodology has recently changed to include the discussion regarding internal talent early in the sprint. We identify potential roles those in our internal portfolio can fill. It’s a win/win for us because we get to retain talent in the organization and in most cases, fill a critical job rather quickly.

If you are intrigued by this idea, try dedicating half of your time or someone on your team’s time to developing internal talent. Create a pipeline of internal talent just as you would external targets. You’ll be amazed the benefits you’ll begin seeing early in the process of adopting the internal career counselor as part of your recruiting strategy.

If you would like to learn more about Sprint RecruitingClick here to join our mailing list. You’ll get premier access to:

  • Get helpful recruiting tips sent to you monthly!
  • Read each chapter of the book Sprint Recruiting as it’s written
  • Resources including graphics, reports and training
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If you find yourself experiencing a Talent Shortage, ask yourself these three questions.

Talent shortage…. These two words strike hysteria in organizations which almost always leads to War Room meetings and perceived DEFCON 1 status levels. I’ve found that when organizations use the term Talent Shortage, they actually have a problem with their recruiting strategy. If you find yourself experiencing a Talent Shortage, ask yourself these three questions.

Do you trust your gut over data?

According to ERE.net, top organizations like Google, Sodexo and even the US Army have a recruiting strategy based on data. Their approach to recruiting is more similar to a scientific approach versus the traditional trust your gut most hiring managers like to use.

Rather than falling into the trap of trusting your gut, or I what I call repeating the same hiring mistakes, apply data in your sourcing and interviewing strategy. Here are some quick ways to start recruiting with data:

Create a success profile and measure it

Start by identifying what traits or competencies your most successful employees have in similar roles. Many organizations spend so much time and money on this process for career pathing initiatives but fail to apply this to creating a measurement tool for incoming employees. The process doesn’t have to be as elaborate as a talent mapping project but could simply be interviewing top employees to determine what the successful candidate profile should be.

Once you have these characteristics, apply a weighting to each and create a sourcing and interviewing scorecard. Each question would be graded so you can create a ranking of target candidates. (This will be a topic of a future post.)

I would run a couple of pilots in different segments of the organization to fine tune the scorecard before rolling it out to the entire company.

Review the source of hire for your most successful employees

This one seems like a no-brainer but even I’m guilty of not stopping long enough to do this analysis. Previous to becoming a recruiter, I managed large sales teams and always had key companies or organizations I would recruit from. I noticed many of my successful salespeople came from companies like Enterprise and local call centers. They already had the sales training needed to be successful, I just had to teach them my industry. Naturally, these types of companies were primary targets for my hiring efforts.

Apply this same approach to your sourcing efforts. Identify the firms you’ve recruited your most successful candidates from and begin building out your pipeline. Then your time will be spent not in identifying candidates, but in evaluating which employees from these firms you’d like recruit.

Once you conduct this analysis, you may there are certain pockets of talent pools you have not explored. The data may lead you to explore what I call the +1 strategy. Simply put, if Enterprise is a successful company to recruit from, perhaps you should explore some of the competitors in the same industry like Hertz. So take your target and apply the +1 strategy to grow your hit-list.

Are you branding your job opportunities?

Photo by Austin Chan on Unsplash

Recruiting has evolved to a branding and relationship management process. The days of posting a job and praying the right candidates apply are now fairy tales from days of old. It’s a candidate’s market and companies have to get with the times.

To attract the right candidate, successful organizations have an aggressive positioning statement and strategy for managers to leverage during the interview process. Organizations like Google and Apple have the luxury of worldwide brand recognition, allowing them to attract candidates with minimal effort. Those of us in the not so glamorous limelight have to put more work into attracting the same quality of candidate.

Managers must be equipped to sell their open roles to perspective candidates. I recently spoke with an account executive from CareerBuilder to gain insight on what candidates are looking for in companies.

His advice?

Hiring managers should be able to answer these questions for candidates:

  • What makes your role different from similar roles in the market?
  • What is the career path look like for this role in your company?
  • Does your company invest in the community either through donation or involvement in non-profit partnerships?
  • What is the leadership philosophy of the company?

Managers who are able to authentically articulate the firm’s position in the market and relate it to the potential success a candidate would have by joining will have an edge in a market with a talent shortage.

Do you only recruit when you have an open position?

I find successful leaders are rarely troubled by perceived talent shortages because they remain in recruiting mode. I love working with leaders who maximize their LinkedIn contacts by introducing me to candidates whether they have a role open or not. These are usually the leaders who have a succession plan in their head and I have the luxury of bringing it to reality.

How do you help managers who do not have the recruiting mindset?

Create pipelines of qualified candidates and conduct a monthly or bimonthly pipeline review with them. This is a great way to maintain not only the focus on recruiting but the excitement involved in identifying great candidates.

You can also hold open houses or information sessions to allow potential targets meet hiring managers in a less intense environment. I know one firm that held a lunch and learn that qualified as Continuing Education credit for the industry. They used the online signup sheet as their target list for future recruiting efforts. It was a brilliant way to bring target candidates on campus and conduct soft interviews during the “networking” times before and after the event.


There’s a major difference between a talent shortage and a recruiting strategy that sucks. If you cannot answer these three questions, you probably need to take a hard look at your recruiting strategy. Meet with your recruiting partners and hiring managers to discuss creative solutions of your own to overcoming the increasing competition for talent!

If you would like to learn more about Sprint RecruitingClick here to join our mailing list. You’ll get premier access to:

  • Get helpful recruiting tips sent to you monthly!
  • Read each chapter of the book Sprint Recruiting as it’s written
  • Resources including graphics, reports and training
  • Special Q&A sessions to learn how Sprint Recruiting can help you transform your Talent Strategy.

Recruiting Metrics- Measure what counts!

“If you don’t collect any metrics, you’re flying blind. If you collect and focus on too many, they may be obstructing your field of view.” 
― Scott M. Graffius

The key to talent acquisition metrics is measuring what counts. I know it sounds redundant to say but there are a lot of recruiters and talent acquisition teams measuring the wrong metrics.

Much like a pilot, recruiters need to have a dashboard to provide real-time data on their candidate flow, open jobs, time to fill and placement numbers. Unfortunately, many in the talent acquisition industry tend to focus on time to fill and number of hires. Although these are critical metrics, they are by no means the only talent acquisition metrics to focus on.

Here are some recruiting metrics you should keep your eye on to be successful. Keep in mind that some of the metrics I tend to measure are associated with the Sprint Recruiting Methodology my team and I have adopted.

First, let me share with you the dashboard I created using Google Data Studio:

The Candidate Funnel

I like to know at the beginning of each week how many candidates we have in each stage of the process. In Sprint Recruiting, we work in two week sprints, focused on a designated number of priority positions assigned points by our clients. The points dictate the priority recruiters place in their sourcing and recruiting efforts.

The section “How many candidates do we have in each stage of the process” is my pulse check for the week. This information is fed by a google sheet our team uses to track the jobs and other necessary metrics associated with Sprint Recruiting.

Using the screenshot above, I can see we have 8 jobs being sourced, 6 in active interview stages and 3 offers out. If this is the beginning of the sprint cycle, I am stoked because it means we have a jump on the sprint. However, if I am looking at this information the Wednesday before the sprint ends (our sprints end every other Friday), I might be alarmed by the number of jobs being sourced with no active candidates.

As the leader for the talent acquisition team, I would use this information to determine which team member I need to help. I would want to determine if there are any obstacles I could remove to help the process along. Perhaps there’s been a shift in the industry creating havoc in our candidate flow that we should discuss.

Regardless of the obstacle, this view helps me quickly assess where my energy should be as a recruiter and a recruiting manager.

Sprint Recruiting Points

In Sprint Recruiting, we work with our clients biweekly to assign a budgeted amount of points to prioritize the work. Points are attained when we fill those roles which populates the “Points by Line of Business” chart.

As you can see, we created a threshold of 300 points biweekly. This is our baseline for success in the sprint. Depending on what day during the sprint I review this metric, I could be excited or depressed by our progress. Again, this metric tells me quickly where I need to focus on as a leader.

The points indicate success defined by our client for that sprint. If by mid sprint we are not at least halfway to the threshold, I leverage my one on ones to dig deeper to find the causes. This metric has helped my one on ones with the team become more efficient and insightful.

Photo by Pixabay

Number of Positions in the Sprint

We also track the number of positions in each sprint. This helps us spot trends, be alerted to increased volumes in a particular area and manage capacity on the team.

If I begin seeing an upward trend, it usually shows the early signs of issues in that particular line of business. It helps us quickly make the right moves on our team to coordinate the work while also allowing us to work with the HR partner to identify the root causes.

Questions I tend to explore would include:

  • Is this a special project where we need additional headcount?
  • If the trend is not the result of recent adds to staff, what is the turnover data telling us?
  • Is this the result of a change in the market or industry? If so, how can we move quickly to stay ahead?
  • Does anyone else on the team have capacity to help?

Before we began Sprint Recruiting, I had to rely primarily on my gut. With this key metric in my face every day, I am able to move quicker and more efficiently to avoid disaster.

Quick Quits

I am amazed at the number of talent acquisition teams that focus only on recruiting metrics and not on what happens with the candidates join. One area I’ve begun tracking is what we call “Quick Quits” or candidates who leave within the first six months of hire.

There is a lot of noise in this metric so you will have to do some data mining to be sure you have quality answers. The data I typically review has all terminations, but I only focus on those terminations when the candidate determined we were not a fit for them.

Let’s imagine your involuntary terminations in your sales organization begin to spike. You might want to meet wtih the sales leaders to understand where your team or they missed the mark. It could be that the industry changed so candidates who were once great targets will no longer succeed in your new environment.

This data can help you spend more time recruiting the right talent. It also saves your reputation with your client by positioning you as a consultant and not just someone who puts a cheek in a seat!

The Experience

If you do not have a survey to send candidates and managers after you fill the job, you are missing out on some great information!

Our surveys are sent out quarterly to both managers and candidates wtih a series of questions using a sliding scale of 1 to 5. We use Google Forms to build our survey so the responses are captured in a Google Sheet in real-time. I leverage Data Studio to pull the information over in the graphic you see above.

I have another page I chose not to share that breaks the experience scores down by line of business and recruiters. This gives me the ability to proactively identify issues with our candidates and clients.

It’s another reason why I love using Sprint Recruiting. Every two weeks, we look at this information during our team’s retrospective to identify any obstacles we can address to increase our experience scores.


I know the other metrics like time to fill and number of hires against goal are
important but there’s a ton of posts out there explaining how to track and
measure those recruiting metrics. I wanted to share the metrics my team and I
have been focused on since implementing Sprint Recruiting and
share some of the early successes we’ve experienced.

What are the Talent Acquisition Metrics you measure?

If you would like to learn more about Sprint RecruitingClick here to join our mailing list. You’ll get premier access to:

  • Get helpful recruiting tips sent to you monthly!
  • Read each chapter of the book Sprint Recruiting as it’s written
  • Resources including graphics, reports and training
  • Special Q&A sessions to learn how Sprint Recruiting can help you transform your Talent Strategy.

How to use Work in Progress (WIP) Limits in Recruiting

One of the key principles in Sprint Recruiting is the use of Work in Progress (WIP) limits to help manage candidates through the process.

The AGILE methodology defines WIP limits as fixed constraints that individuals, teams, or organizations create to limit the total number of work items in process at any given time. They are most commonly used by teams to limit how many cards or products can be active at once.

If you want an idea of how WIP limits help any process, think of the infamous scene with Lucille Ball and her cohort trying to keep up with the factory belt at the chocolate factory. As the speed increased, she and her friend frantically try to keep up the pace wrapping each of the chocolates. It’s one of the best scenes of the show!

There are a lot of similarities between that scene in the chocolate factory and recruiting. I felt just like Lucy 9 out of the 10 days prior to implementing Sprint Recruiting.


In late 2017, I attended an AGILE training to learn the methodology and how we would be implementing it throughout our organization. We participated in an activity that reminded me a lot of the scene from the chocolate factory. After several failed attempts, the facilitator imposed WIP limits on us for each stage of the process. Ironically, placing limits on the process actually increased our production and efficiency.

I remembered the mind blown feeling I had coming out of the excercise as I tried to wrap my head around how limits created more productivity. I guess I had become accustomed to thinking the more you were doing at one time increased efficiency and productivity.

Similarly, when I introduced WIP limits to the team for our beta version of Sprint Recruiting, all of us struggled trying to place limits on stages of the process. The limits we chose to use were number of candidates in each stage or bucket of the process.

If you think about any recruiting process, it really comes down to three lanes or stages:

1. Recruiter Screening/Interviewing

2. Hiring Manager submissions

3. Hiring Manager interviewing

We ran some tests on each stage to determine what the WIP limits should be. We had some recruiters who did high volume recruiting and others who worked on more mid to executive level jobs. There was a lot of debate around whether there should be different WIPs for high volume roles versus the others. We tested this theory but found that establishing the same WIP limit across the team was easier to monitor and there was very little variance between the two volumes of recruiting.

Once we agreed on what he limit should be for how many we should have in the recruiter screening or interviewing stage, we moved on to test the Hiring Manager submission stage. This stage we defined as when the manager is sent a candidate to review.

We set the bar high initially at ten candidates in this stage but discovered quickly that was too many. Managers were either complaining that we were sending too many candidates or complaining they didn’t have enough time to review the candidates. We also had other managers who would go into over analysis paralysis. Once we decided the WIP for this group was five, we began seeing a lot of progress.

When we got to the next stage, Hiring Manager Interviewing, we decided to learn from our previous test and set the WIP at five. We determined if managers became easily overwhelmed with five submissions, they’d be even more overwhelmed with more than five interviews in process.

For those who are visual learners, here’s what our process looks like:

As you can see above, candidates are pulled through the process versus the traditional recruiting method of pushing candidates through. If all you do is continuously push candidates through the various stages of your process, you’ll begin to resemble the chocolate factory and not the pristine recruiting shop you want to run. Candidates who are disqualified at any point in the process open up a slot for a potentially qualified candidate to take their place.

Our managers had to come around on this process but most of that was because of their inherit fear of missing out on “the other good candidate out there”. Let’s face it, we lose a lot of a great candidates in our broken processes because managers keep thinking their candidate in shining offer hasn’t been discovered. Oftentimes, the perfect candidate had already been identified and interviewed but chose to take another opportunity due to the length of the recruiting process.

WIP limits cure that problem.


After almost a year in our Sprint Recruiting methodology, we love our WIP limits. They help us not only keep track of candidates but prioritize our focus and work. When the process becomes bogged down by managers not giving timely feedback or a backlog of candidates who need to be reviewed or interviewed, we can quickly identify the obstacle, address it and keep the process going.

It’s perhaps one of the hardest aspects of Sprint Recruiting we had to implement but has paid dividends in our ability to meet the needs of our candidates and clients.

The Ultimate Recruiting Metrics Dashboard-A Review of Visier’s Talent Analytics Add-on

I’ve already confessed my obsession with analytics on this website in previous posts so it should be no surprise that I am writing another article on the topic. I shared in a recent post the convergence of Data Analytics and Recruiting based on my experience using the Visier platform. I had the opportunity to participate in a demo of Visier’s Talent add-on so I thought I would share my review of the ultimate recruiting metrics dashboard.

Simplicity with Everything at your Fingertips

One of the first things that appealed to me was the simplicity of the dashboard. This is a hallmark of the Visier platform design.

I like how Visier will pose questions and provide the answers once you click on the icon. For instance, rather than trying to leverage the platform to do a deep dive into your turnover, the platform will have questions like:Where is my highest turnover? What makes someone stay or resign?

From this simple yet powerful dashboard you can begin digging into the critical levers within talent acquisition. So let me show you some of the features I liked the most.

What does the candidate journey look like?

In August of last year, I spent roughly an entire weekend tracking our candidate journey. I had to download the information from the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) into an excel worksheet, scrub the data for duplicates and for accuracy,then hours building complex if/then formulas.

Once I had the information, I then had to work through graphs, charts and other graphics to try to find the answer to two basic questions:

  1. How long is the candidate journey?
  2. Where are our roadblocks in the process?

So when I saw this screen during the demo, I was a little pissed off that there was a program that could have done this for me with such ease. An entire weekend of my life could have been given back to me if I had a tool like this.

This particular screen allows you to set parameters or stopping points for your candidate journey, specific to your firm. Based on this information, Visier analyzes the candidate flow and tracks where candidates drop off. You can analyze not only the amount of time it takes to progress through each stage but also who is dropping out and why.

Visier’s built in filter function allows you to go deeper into this information. You can review this information by job, job family, generation and diversity. This is critical for me since I really want to understand how committed my organization is to diversity. Now, with maybe three clicks, I can review critical jobs and answer two important questions in diversity recruiting:

  1. Are we attracting and recruiting enough diverse talent for our open jobs?
  2. Are the diverse candidates in our pool being treated equally throughout the process?

Additionally, this screen will allow you to better understand where your roadblocks are in the process.

Are your recruiters taking too long to review and interview candidates? Are your managers providing timely feedback? Do candidates get frustrated or disengaged because of the length of your recruiting process?

Each of these questions are vital to any recruiting strategy. Needless to say, this was one of my favorite features of the demo.

Laser Focus on Diversity

Companies tout their commitment to diversity and inclusion, however, few know exactly how diverse candidates enter into the organization. Visier’s platform gives great insight to several layers of diversity in the recruiting process.

The first is the number of diverse candidates entering the funnel. Sure, there are a number of ATS platforms that can tell you how many diverse candidates apply but few can tell you whether these candidates were interviewed by a diverse panel.

This particular module is critical for someone like me who really wants to understand the candidate experience of our diverse pool. The snapshot above is already built into the platform so I don’t have to waste time trying to build something. Just point, click, and analyze.

If your organization really wants to understand what is going on in their diversity recruiting efforts, Visier’s product allows you to spend more time finding and addressing any gaps and less time trying to put all of the information together.

Are you successful or only treading water?

I recently tried to build a report in Google’s Data Studio to show me trend lines of our recruiting activity. I know I am not the only one who has weeks when we close a ton of jobs, only to see the total open requisition number move by one or two jobs.

With this module, I can drill down from the organizational level and analyze which lines of business are crating the most havoc in my tranquil garden of recruiting. The filter options will also allow me to look at year over year trends and limit the scope to a job group or line of business.

One of the key benefits in Sprint Recruiting is the ability to allocate resources biweekly according to the priority and workloads of the sprint. I have been doing this process manually over the last year, leveraging Google Data Studio. I am curious to learn how I could use this simple interface to better allocate resources, predict trends in the lines of business we serve and work closer with my HR partners to understand why certain groups are more volatile than others.

Finally-A FUNNEL!

This funnel is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Visier’s funnel includes cost of hire and other key metrics in one simple module for me. Sure, there are some applicant tracking systems out there that tout their ability to create a funnel but it’s rarely something I would use. I’m a sales/relationship management guy and recruiting is a sales/relationship management business. So why wouldn’t I want a funnel to help me understand how many candidates I should search for to find my rock-star?

This particular snapshot shows the progress in college recruiting. The demo allowed me to use their data to drill down to particular jobs, segments of candidates and just about any other quality I could dream of. This type of interface would take me hours to recreate in an ATS. Visier’s platform has this report prebuilt at a macro level but offers the ability to zero in on any subject my heart desires.

How are we doing?

I’m obsessed with knowing where the team’s productivity numbers are. I like to be able to quickly see how we are doing as a team and identify any potential gaps in service levels or candidate flows.

Visier’s TA Scorecard gives me just that.

Although the scorecard is editable, the demo module showed me much of the information I manually track. The only difference is that I can’t drill down into time periods or other key metrics like I can with Visier.

Another key feature you’ll see on this snapshot is the cost to replace. Many recruiters look at the cost of hire but do not take into consideration the loss of productivity an open position creates. I find there is a significant disconnect between hiring managers and recruiters on priority of roles because recruiters are only looking at one of the cost levers associated with the recruiting process.

Visier’s TA Scorecard helps recruiters and recruiting managers keep a finger on the pulse of their business with simplicity and ease.

Applicant and Hire Analysis

Sure, I can pull hire data out of my ATS but Visier’s platform makes it interactive. I can review the applicant flow from the macro level but also drive down into the details by simply hovering over a point in the trendline data.

Another feature I like about this slide is the ability to see where our applicants are finding our jobs. Currently, the ATS we work with does not allow us to track this vital piece of information, so the recruiting team has to manually update a google sheet indicating where they found each hire. This module helps me see quickly where my candidates are coming from so I can spend more time and investment in those platforms.

One screen shot I did not get was the trend analysis of where applicants come from. This will help me as we A/B test various marketing ideas on LinkedIn and some of the career boards we work with. I can easily see the impact of the marketing campaigns on candidate flow with only a point and a click.


There are some more powerful features in Visier’s Talent Module that I liked but these are my top snapshots. The demo seemed to answer my top three concerns as a recruiting manager:

  1. Where is my talent coming from and what does their journey look like?
  2. What are the recruiting trends of my organization so I can plan and allocate resources on my team?
  3. What’s the real story with our diversity recruiting and on boarding?

You may have different questions you want answered for your organization’s recruiting strategy. Based on the demo I participated in, I would be willing to bet Visier’s Talent Module wold be able to answer them not only quickly but with an interface you’d actually become addicted to!

What Does a Headhunter Do?

My daughter once asked me if I was a headhunter and I was a little bothered by the question. I really don’t like the term headhunter because it makes me feel dirty. Why?

  • I know a lot of headhunters who are like those annoying insurance salesmen who give the rest of us a bad rap.
  • Headhunter… doesn’t it make you think about some cannibal on a deserted island waiting to cut off your head for a souvenir?
  • Headhunter…. yes, I have a dirty mind so I’ll just leave it at that.

But her question was not whether or not her dad was what someone would call a headhunter but more around what does a headhunter do?

I’d like to give some perspective from two different angles: for their client and for the candidates.

What does a headhunter do for the client?

Headhunters are merely recruiters who work for recruiting agencies. Some companies are not equipped with the staff or the internal acumen to have their own recruiting function so they go to headhunters to help them find talent for the organization. Even if a company the size of mine has the recruiting function in-house, there are times when a headhunter should be engaged to work on important or hard to find roles.

The benefit for companies that hire headhunters is that they are hiring a specialist. For example, if you are a tech firm specializing in a particular type of tech, you might seek out a search firm that is considered experts in that space. I know for my firm, we’ve gone to a search firm on some key roles that were more like Purple Monkeys and my team had neither the capacity or acumen to find the needed talent.

The headhunter will most often charge either a percentage of the base salary/total compensation of the role as their fee or charge a retainer. It usually depends on the search firm you engage and what your appetite is.

Contingent firms will only be paid once the talent is placed whereas retained search firms charge a fee for you to work on the role over a specified period of time.

Although most internal talent acquisition teams have a love/hate relationship with headhunters, I tend to see them as a valuable asset.

Let’s say I get a project that needs 20 people in 30 days for my firm and my team is already beyond our capacity limits to meet that goal. Engaging a search firm is a no brainer for me and I work closely with the firm more as a partner than an adversary.

Photo by Negative Space

What does a headhunter do for a candidate?

Some headhunters work like talent agents for candidates. If the headhunter is smart, he or she will have a pipeline of qualified candidates for the niche they serve. They can alert you to jobs that may not have been posted online and can help you get in the door quicker and with the right people.

If you choose to work with a headhunter, be sure you know what they’re getting paid. I know I’ll piss a lot of search firms off by giving you this advice but you should know that companies do consider the fee they have to pay for talent when offering a job. You want to be sure the headhunter is there to represent your interests and not just get a fee.

Another great benefit from a headhunter is the feedback you receive. Unfortunately, too many internal recruiters fail to close the loop with disqualified candidates, hindering them from learning what they could do better the next time they’re up at bat.

Headhunters tend to have less administrative BS to deal with and it behooves them to keep great candidates in their pockets…even if they didn’t get the job.


There is definitely a time and place to engage a headhunter and only you will know when the time is right.

For all of my fellow corporate talent acquisition compadres, don’t be so adversarial with your headhunters. Remember, they’re usually dialing for dollars more than you are and more in the know.

If you piss them off, you can get a bad rep and not even know it.

Oh and a major shout out to the handful of headhunters I work with! You have saved my butt more times than I care to admit. I do truly see you as a partner!

Disclaimer: I hate the term headhunter but I noticed it’s a term most people know more than recruiting search firm or a recruiting agency. If you don’t believe me, type in “what does a search firm do” into google and see if you get any suggestions on topics.

If you would like to learn more about Sprint RecruitingClick here to join our mailing list. You’ll get premier access to:

  • Get helpful recruiting tips sent to you monthly!
  • Read each chapter of the book Sprint Recruiting as it’s written
  • Resources including graphics, reports and training
  • Special Q&A sessions to learn how Sprint Recruiting can help you transform your Talent Strategy.

Job Descriptions aren’t Dead! They just need to evolve!

I swear, if I read one more blog post about how job descriptions are dead….

Every so called influencer in Talent Acquisition has weighed in on the idea of job descriptions going away completely. They give statistics on how few candidates read them or how companies should try this new sexy way of marketing their jobs. These influencers would have you believe you can be the next Facebook or Tic Toc of your industry if you would only do away with those “stupid job descriptions”.

These influencers tend to miss answering one obvious question- How the hell will candidates know what the job is if there’s no job description?

The real problem with job descriptions isn’t their function but the lack of evolution in the presentation. You can throw all the videos, pictures and holograms you want into your job post but if the candidate still walks away wondering what in the hell they’ll actually be doing, you’ve still missed the mark.

Also, much of the chatter around this subject tends to forget that small to medium sized companies may not be able to afford all of the bling suggested for their job descriptions. In many of these smaller firms, they may not even have an HR manager, much less a compensation department, formal marketing department dedicated to job descriptions or anything of the sort.

They need something to go out on a job site to attract candidates, tell them enough of what the role is to get them interested, and something to create a guideline of how to measure the success of the candidate if they’re hired. They don’t need all of the crazy shit some Talent Acquisition influencers are preaching.

Let’s talk about what needs to happen with job descriptions.

Photo by geralt

Qualifications-Easy Tiger!

Qualifications should be treated as the price of entry to a firm, not your wish list of a perfect candidate. The list should not be the length of a grocery list for a family of five but more like a list you’d make for a quick run to the store. It should be more like milk, bread, oreos, lunchmeat and cheese. You know, the kind of list you make to ensure you’re only in the store 15 minutes and come out spending less than thirty dollars. Just get the basics in there.

This approach helps the writer of the job description spend less time on how they could disqualify potential candidates. It also helps candidates not become discouraged when they’re reading your job post.

One critical piece to this is your ability to recruit diverse candidates.

Credit: thinkgrowth.org

If your qualification list is ten miles long, you can just about gargantee yourself a pool of male candidates. That’s why I suggest brevity in your qualifications. Give enough to tell the candidate they either have a chance to get in or not.

They are not SEO Friendly

Job descriptions or job posts should be updated for the times. Candidates don’t go to their daily newspaper to look for jobs anymore. Google is KING so if you’re not writing your description with your target candidate in mind, you’re better off not posting the job all together.

When writing the job description, you have to write it for the target audience while also keeping in mind keywords the candidate might search. One of the biggest mistakes made in this area is using corporate jargon known only to insiders of your company. When you put too much of the jargon in your description, you diminish the number of candidates who might find your job in a generic search.

As an example, the firm I work for calls tellers Branch Associates. Sure, the title is sexier than teller but what candidate would go to Google looking for teller jobs and type in Branch Associate?

If you find yourself in a similar scenario, try to use the more common keywords in the introduction of your job description to help draw the parallel to what the market calls the role and what you call the role. This will not only help candidates find your job but will also help them understand the value you place on the role.

Google now ranks websites higher for the value of the content which means this could be a goldmine for you in free marketing if done right. Take the time to position your job post to be found leveraging the true power of SEO.

Job Descriptions should be for Marketing, NOT Performance Evaluation

In a couple of recent meetings regarding job descriptions, I felt like the team I worked with was writing the handbook for performance management for the position. The manager actually referenced being able to hold an employee accountable to the items listed on the job description as a performance measurement.

Job descriptions should never be written this way. The KPIs (key performance indicators) for the role should be set separate from the job description. Sure, they should be discussed during the interview process but is that really what you want to lead with to attract candidates?

It’s as if you’re saying: “Here are the list of things we’re going to use to see if you stay or get fired.”

Stupid!

The job description should be a loose definition of the role, not the string holding the blade of the damn guillotine.


Photo by Pixabay

Are job descriptions dead? Hell no! Unfortunately, most job descriptions are more like a dead end sign than an invitation for a career.

They just need a face lift and a change of focus. If you find your candidate flow is dismal, the job description is the first place you should look.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is it marketing the role as an opportunity or merely showing the price of admission to your firm?
  • Does it showcase your company culture or does it only, blandly talk about what he role does?
  • Does your list of qualifications look like a list of side effects found on the latest prescription drug? If so, modify it and trim it down.

When you find the right sauce for your job description, you’ll begin finding the right candidates. They are the storefront to the opportunity you’re selling so make sure they tell the right story!

If you would like to learn more about Sprint RecruitingClick here to join our mailing list. You’ll get premier access to:

  • Get helpful recruiting tips sent to you monthly!
  • Read each chapter of the book Sprint Recruiting as it’s written
  • Resources including graphics, reports and training
  • Special Q&A sessions to learn how Sprint Recruiting can help you transform your Talent Strategy.