Increase Recruiting Productivity with Ideal.com

As a recruiting leader, I am obsessed with how to increase recruiting productivity. One of my fascinations lately is how we can leverage AI in Recruiting to increase productivity. I was fortunate enough to connect with Mark D’Angelo with Ideal.com recently to talk about their product. This is not an endorsement of Ideal.com but rather a sneak peek at the awesome opportunities we have ahead if we begin using AI in Recruiting to increase productivity.

About Ideal.com

Ideal is an AI-powered talent screening & matching system that helps enterprise teams make more accurate, fair, and efficient talent decisions. The firm’s goal is to allow recruiters to spend more time on the high-touch, high-impact parts of recruiting and less on the mundane, low-impact functions of the role. The product features include screening, matching, engagement, and automation. Ideal wants to be the data behind every talent decision to ensure accuracy, fairness, and efficiency.

I spent about an hour with Mark in a demo and was impressed by what I saw. Although I know we barely scratched the surface, I definitely think this is a viable product for those of us who are searching for ways to increase recruiter productivity and client value.

Ideal’s product works with your CRM, ATS and assessment platforms to gather data and help make your recruiting processes more efficient. It sits at the top of the candidate funnel and runs point for the process right up until the initial interviews. In my discussion with Mark, he indicated that this design enables Ideal to do the heavy lifting and stop where the high value touch of the recruiter is needed.

Photo by h heyerlein on Unsplash

Screening

The traditional way of recruiting begins with recruiters reviewing candidates’ resumes one by one for hours on end. For high volume recruiting, this one step can take recruiters days to manually stack rank and interview candidates for the open positions. One of the pieces I had not considered in this loss of productivity was the impact on the candidate experience. There may be the perfect candidate who applied for the role behind 20 not so qualified candidates who does not get a call from the recruiter. This is not only an awful candidate experience but it’s also a detriment to the company since it would lose out on great talent.

Ideal’s AI would stack rank the applicants based on their grading system (A-F). Before you get too worried, the system does allow recruiters to look at the candidate’s report card to explain why the candidate received the grade. This allows recruiters to begin trusting the results and thus, spend less time manually reviewing candidates.

The report card shows why they were graded based on information including historical candidates hired, their match to the skills required and the fit to the job. I was really impressed with Ideal’s “inferred skills” feature which reviews the candidate’s information and goes deeper in the skill assessment of the candidate related to the job. Over time, the AI improves based on your hiring and selection process.

I was amazed by the seamlessness of the product. Others I’ve reviewed were clunky to say the least but Ideal’s presence was impressive. If you’d like to see this process in action, be sure to check out the firm’s YouTube channel. It showcases videos of Ideal working with various applicant tracking systems to give you a better idea of its power as well as the ease of use.

Engagement

I have a love-hate relationship with Chatbots. Sometimes they seem more like a pain in the ass than a help, especially when I’m trying to get information off of a website quickly. When Mark mentioned their chatbot, I have to admit I rolled my eyes until I saw it in action.

Once a candidate applies, the chatbot engages them. You can configure the chatbot to ask additional questions based on the role to further assess their fit for the job. The company uses texting to increase the chances of a candidate responding which I found to be helpful. The bot grades the candidate not only on what they answer, but also how they answer.

Based on the answers, Ideal will improve the ranking of the candidate without any work done by the recruiter. It also allows a firm to share employer branding content and other items as well.

Watch the chatbot in action here.

Matching

So the previous features impressed me, but this feature had me saying “Holy Shit”! I cannot tell you how many times I’ve paid a search fee for a candidate who had applied to another role or who had their resume in our applicant tracking system. The thought of how many perfect candidates are sitting in my ATS who get overlooked keeps me up at night. Well, Ideal has the perfect solution.

When a position is posted in your ATS, Ideal will go and review past candidates to source qualified candidates sitting right in your platform. It not only finds the candidates but also grades them against the current role.

This, for me, was a game changer. The amount of time saved by leveraging Ideal can not only increase the productivity of the recruiter but also maximize the candidate experience with this one awesome feature. Once the candidate is identified, Ideal’s chatbot engages the candidate to see if they’re interested in the new role and invite them to apply. Imagine the candidate’s view of your brand when receiving the invite to consider roles they may be qualified for!

My firm has a huge commitment to internal career pathing and hiring but my team and I struggle sourcing internal talent. Most do not have updated resumes in our system and trying to limit your sourcing to internal talent is clunky in most ATS I have worked with. Ideal has already worked with large firms to identify star internal talent using this feature by promoting internal talent to the top of the search results.


I am excited by the evolution of the recruiting industry with all of the new technology out there. Ideal’s platform definitely perked my interest and excitement. In a recent article, it cited a survey showing 60% of a recruiter’s time is spent on low-impact, low-value tasks like screening, administration and other tasks. Imagine the increase in productivity of your recruiting team if it began using a product like Ideal’s to focus more on the high-value parts of the recruiting process.

It’s definitely something I will continue to research and I hope you will too! If you are interested in learning more about Ideal, connect with Mark D’Angelo on LinkedIn and ask for a demo.

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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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.

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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How can recruiters help leaders focus on strategy?

When you think of Intel, you most likely think of the its dominance in the microprocessor industry. Most of us have forgotten how Intel broke into the market depending primarily on the production of its memory chips. This shift in product strategy altered the brand, making Intel a household name. What was the one question that helps leaders focus on strategy?

As the story goes, CEO Andrew Grove and company leader Gordon Moore were facing a rapidly changing landscape in the technology industry and global competition. They realized they could no longer churn out the same products and services and survive. According to the Wall Street Journal, Groves and Moore asked themselves one question helps leaders focus on strategy.

Groves: “If we got kicked out and the board brought in a new CEO, what would he do?” Mr. Moore answered that a new CEO would get Intel out of the memory-chip business. “Why shouldn’t you and I walk out the door, come back and do it ourselves?” Mr. Grove retorted. He then did just that, reshaping Intel from a memory-chip producer to a microprocessor maker.

Recruiters can help leaders focus on strategy with one question: If you were to be replaced, what would your replacement do be successful?

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán on Pexels.com

The Leadership Conundrum

Leaders are often bombarded with information to process and decisions to make. The noise around them can prevent them from focusing on strategy causing the business to struggle. The value recruiting consultants can bring is clarity through asking this question.

Another aspect of the leadership conundrum involves the difficulty associated with changing course. I have found even when leaders I’ve consulted answered the question, they struggled with committing to action. The idea of changing course seems like admitting defeat or can be so complicated, it exhausts the leader.

How recruiters can help leaders focus on strategy

When you find your client struggling to focus on strategy, help them refocus by asking the question. Step back and allow them time to process the question. You may even help by conducting a brainstorming session with them, allowing the client leader to hash their ideas out. As the recruiting pro, you’ll have to not only be the coach but also the manager to help your client make the right move.

Once you feel the session has produced a feasible strategy, urge the leader to think next through implementation/execution. Play devil’s advocate to push the leader to consider all aspects. Identify the objections and obstacles but also help find ways to overcome them. This is where many recruiters fail. The only identify the risk but fail to help their clients work through them.

Remember, if this is the strategy to help the business succeed, you are just as vested in its success as the manager. This is a great way to prove your value to your client and will strengthen your relationship with them.


Sometimes we are tasked to help leaders get out of their own head. This one question helps leaders focus on strategy and less on the noise around them.

Just imagine if Groves and Moore had not asked themselves this question. Would Intel have suffered the same fate as Kodak, Blockbuster and other who were unwilling to focus on the right strategy to succeed.

Do you have a “Silver Bullet” Question you ask your client leaders to help them focus on strategy? If so, I’d love to hear it!

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!
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How to use a Real-Time Job Posting Response to COVID-19

COVID-19’s effect on the United States over the last several weeks has been traumatic and overwhelming for recruiters. As a recruiting leader, it has become even more critical for me to leverage data to make decisions in this new environment. My friends at Emsi shared a new tool they’ve developed a dashboard to show job postings in real-time as a response to COVID-19.

The Emsi dashboard can track the trends of job postings by day, week or month. This helps me keep an eye on what the market is doing in some of my key target talent areas. As my organization continues to evaluate our staffing plans in the midst of this crisis, this tool gives me a unique view to how our competitors are responding to the crisis in response to COVID-19.

The simplicity of this tool and the comparative data available allows you to leverage real-time data has allowed me to make quicker, more informed decisions. As you can see from example above, you can leverage the drop-down menus to explore the postings by industry, occupation, skills, etc. I’ve found it helpful to leverage the Company option to better understand how my biggest competitors are reacting to the COVID-19 market change.

The ability to compare year over year changes in the postings is also insightful. I have found myself suffering from what I can the New Normal Goggles, losing sight that when this crisis is over, hiring trends will spike to normal levels. This feature also allows me to see which occupations are most impacted by the COVID-19 hiring crisis.


Emsi’s job posting dashboard offers real-time insights into how COVID-19 is affecting the U.S. economy. With so much uncertainty in the world right now, I have found this data incredibly helpful and think you will too.

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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The 2020 Workforce: It’s time to Rethink, Reskill and Redeploy

The true competitors in 2020 have taken an offensive strategy by reinvesting in the talent they already have. Industry giants like AT&T, Amazon and Walmart recognize the threat the technology revolution has created in the 2020 talent landscape but have turned it into an opportunity. If you want to get ahead of the “War for Talent” in 2020, it’s time for you to rethink, reskill and redeploy your employees.

COVID19 has changed how organizations view talent. As unemployment continues to rise and the market tightens, many organizations have begun taking a deeper look at how they are leveraging their employees. It is more important now than before to rethink how you are leveraging your talent, take opportunities to reskill it, and find more effective ways to redeploy your skilled workforce.

Rethink

When I talk to managers during an intake meeting, they inevitability lead with “I think we need to look externally for this role”. Most hiring managers are infatuated with the idea of the dynamite candidate outside of the firm’s walls. Some will go so far as to discredit any potential internal candidate’s credentials to hire an external candidate with the same or even less.

The first step in the battle plan for 2020 is changing the mindset to value internal talent. The amount of money and time spent onboarding and training employees should logically encourage managers to consider internal talent ahead of external but that’s rarely the case. Recruiters and HR partners will first have to work with hiring managers to change the mindset over time. According to Josh Bersin, “Employees who are the beneficiaries of deep investments of time and resources to stay relevant feel more committed to the organization, retention and engagement goes up, and the company now sees a clear pipeline of digital skills emerging in its own talent.”

A quick way to change this mindset is to do an internal campaign highlighting star internal promotions. I have found companies rarely market their internal promotions, thus perpetuating the elusion of external talent is sexier. Create a content calendar to promote the internal wins you achieve to keep your change management momentum.

Reskill

According to Lighthouse Research & Advisory, the term reskill is used interchangeably with upskilling. Here is the difference:

  • Upskilling is the development of additional skills to help make someone more valuable in their current role. For example, a software developer learning an additional coding language.
  • Reskilling is the development of significantly different skills to make someone suitable for a different role. For example, retraining a former cashier to work as a personal shopper instead, as Wal-Mart and other retailers have done.

Lighthouse conducted a recent research study and found the “number one driver of learning content demand for employers was to close skills gaps”. Companies like Amazon, AT&T and other notable companies have diverted more of their focus on reskilling their current employees than hunting for new talent. Perhaps these companies understand this investment will pay higher dividends when you take into account the internal knowledge and less ramp-up time associated with reskilling employees.

In a recent HRExecutive.com article, McKinsey Global Institute cited approximately 300 global executives, a majority of respondents said they’ll need to retrain or replace more than a quarter of their workforce by 2023. Unfortunately, only 16 percent reported feeling “very prepared” to tackle the skills-gap challenge.

My own organization, BBVA, has worked to develop an internal training program to help reskill its tech talent with a program called Ninja. “The need to acquire knowledge and technical skills at the speed at which the organization needs them is not exclusive to the technology areas. Ninja was created to detect, promote and give visibility to BBVA’s technology talent, and now we want it to be a reality for the entire organization,” explains Ricardo Forcano, the Global Head of Engineering and Organization at BBVA. The program is just one example of how firms are trying to reskill its workforce to compete in this competitive and quickly changing market.

Redeploy

Once you’ve changed the hiring manager mindset and retrained your workforce, it’s time to redeploy your newly upskilled workforce into the organization. One would see this as the easiest step but this can often be the step with the highest resistance.

Remember hiring managers’ infatuation with the allure of external talent? The first obstacle to overcome is to change the mindset during the redeployment phase as well.

Some organizations have begun allowing jobs to be posted only for internals for a certain number of days. This allows internals the opportunity to post for jobs ahead of external talent, forcing managers to provide feedback on the internals who apply for the jobs. This is a passive first step to consider, however, the amount of time and money your organization will spend reskilling or upskilling your workforce, a more aggressive strategy is in order.

If you really want to redeploy internal talent, you should rethink how you market internal talent. Simply submitting a resume will no longer work. Work with your internal talent to create a candidate profile worthy of the investment your firm has made in them. Match their training with openings and present your newly created talent pool to managers ahead of postings going live.

You’ll also need to spend more time with your internal talent pool to know what areas would benefit most from their training. If you have the option to help design the reskilling with hiring managers as instructors, this is a great way to get early hiring manager buyin.

I am excited to be speaking on this topic at the Digital Banking Conference this June in Austin, TX. There’s still time to register for the conference if you are interested.

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!
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Learning when it’s time to walk away

Whether in your personal or professional life, determining when you should walk away can sometimes feel overwhelming. The constant back and forth of should you or shouldn’t you can affect all aspects of your life including your health, productivity and focus.

So what are some of the warning signs you should walk away?

You feel taken for granted.

This has to be the one feeling I hate the most. When you begin feeling as though your partner, friend, coworker or boss see you only as a commodity whose value is to serve them, you should seriously consider whether you should remain in that relationship. Regardless of the circumstances, everyone has the right to feel appreciated for more than what they can provide.

There should be fulfillment, at some level, in every relationship. If you feel under appreciated and taken for granted, it’s time to consider walking away.

The relationship is unequal.

There are times in every professional and personal relationship when things can feel out of balance. Perhaps one party is going through something in life or business that requires you to give more but this should only be a season, not the norm. If your career demands everything out of you but does not give you anything back outside of a paycheck, do you really want to stay there for the rest of your life? If someone in your life demands everything out of you and is not there to support, care for or love you back, don’t you feel you deserve more?

Sometimes finding the right balance in life is understanding which person or entity is depositing as much as they are withdrawing out of your life account.

You’ve lost that loving feeling.

Again, there are highs and lows in every aspect of life, so you should not make a permanent decision based on temporary circumstances. However, if you find yourself in a situation where you or the other party seems to have lost the passion, you may consider walking away. Sometimes there is just no more energy in the tank left to revive something that is dying.

This circumstance is most likely the hardest for those of us who are driver minded. We tend to stay in situations because we do not like giving up and are loyal to a fault. My challenge to you is to remind yourself of your value over your loyalty. After all, loyalty should be given and received in equal proportions.

So what now?

Speaking from experience, the decision to walk away will be hard and fraught with anxiety, especially if you care deeply for the other person or the company. I have found that shifting your mindset from being anxious toward growth helps tremendously. So as you go through this difficult transition, here are some things to remind yourself:

  • You are valuable and there is someone or something that will see that value and reward it. Push through.
  • The road less traveled is often lonely but it always results in growth, transformation and self-discovery. The rewards at the end of that lonely road will surely outweigh the pain it takes to get to there.
  • Stay the course. You will be tempted to go back to the disfunction you are used to because it feels safe. Many times, we stay so long in the wrong relationships or companies that we get the Stockholm syndrome. Avoid returning to the situation that has taken so much from you and stay the course.

Sometimes walking away has nothing to do with weakness, and everything to do with strength. We walk away not because we want others to realize out worth and value, but because we finally realize our own. -Robert Tew

I hope my advice helps you during this time. There are several books I have read and would like to share with you as you begin your journey.

What is Sprint Recruiting? A Podcast Interview with upstartHR.com

One of my favorite blogs and podcasts to follow is UpstartHR.com by Ben Eubanks. I can’t express how excited I was to be interviewed on a podcast I listen to by someone I really admire in the HR industry.

Ben and I sort of geeked out on the topic of human resource analytics and the transformation we are seeing as a result of more HR professionals leveraging data to make more informed decisions. As the topic evolved, we dove into the subject of Sprint Recruiting.

Agile, at its core, is about prioritizing (ruthlessly) on the things that need to get done. In agile talent acquisition, managers hold more power to set priorities. At the same time, recruiters and talent advisors get the benefit of clearer communication, a framework that sets them up for success, and a true partnership with their customers (the hiring managers in the organization). 

upstarthr.com

I’d like to say thank you to Ben Eubanks and Visier for giving me the opportunity to talk about the triumphs and evolutions of Sprint Recruiting. Be sure to check out some of the other UpstartHR podcast by Ben and his team!

Hope you enjoy the podcast.

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.

3 Reasons Why Hiring Veterans is a Winning Strategy

I recently read an article in The Motley Fool featuring Daymond John, one of Shark Tank’s successful entrepreneurs, sharing his thoughts on why veterans make great entrepreneurs. Daymond, the founder and CEO of hip-hop clothing company FUBU has created the Heroes to CEOs competition, hosted by Bob Evans Farms, a subsidiary of Post Holdings (NYSE:POST). The contest invites military veterans to pitch their entrepreneurial idea or business and the winner will be awarded a $30,000 business grant and an additional two-hour mentoring session. Daymond obviously sees the tremendous benefits veterans can add to businesses and so should recruiters. After reading the article, it confirmed my thoughts on why hiring veterans can benefit a company. Here are 3 reasons why hiring veterans is a winning strategy.

“This is my fourth year working with Bob Evans Farms and their commitment to supporting veteran entrepreneurship,” John said. “Over that time, I have learned immensely from the veterans who have participated in this contest and truly feel like I am the winner by being able to work with them and mentor them as they take on the new challenges in their business lives.”

The Motley Fool

Obsession for the Mission and Client

Successful companies are made up of employees who have an obsession for the mission of the firm and its clients. In John’s opinion, this is one trait that separates veterans from your average worker: “They dedicated their lives to service,” John said, “so they come with the perspective of, ‘what can I do,’ for this customer.”

Military training focuses on accomplishing the mission, creating a primal-like obsession for success at any cost. The core value of serving becomes ingrained in them and is one of the reasons why veterans are so successful in the business sector. If a company wants to hire team members who will serve their clients with excellence, hiring veterans should be a key focus in the recruiting strategy.

Photo by Chase Clark on Unsplash

Team Focused

“Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results.” –Andrew Carnegie

Movies featuring a character(s) with military training will most always have the sense of duty to the team as a central aspect of the plot. In real life, I’ve seen veterans lead teams to accomplish unreal results. They have an instinct for motivating their team members around a common goal because there is no “Me” or “I” in the genetic code for veterans.

The ability to not only focus on accomplishing a company goal but to also motivate your team toward that goal is invaluable in today’s marketplace. Veterans do not have to be named leaders to smash goals. They tend to have the innate ability to influence their peers in ways that civilian team members and leaders take years to learn.

Low Cost per Hire

As the market heats up, companies will continue to focus on the most economic way to hire the talent needed to meet their goals. Hiring vets is a low cost strategy without a talent trade-off. Why?

According to RecruitMilitary.com, when you hire a veteran, you receive all of the benefits of their training and tenacity with a shorter learning curve. They are accustomed to intense training and have the ability to adapt quicker than most of their civilian counterparts. Additionally, there are some tax benefits to hiring veterans which makes this a no-brainer for businesses who want the best talent who will propel their company to success.

Food for Thought

According to the Human Resource Executive, many of the strengths veterans develop during their service are “intangibles,” Sue Bhatia notes, which may be hard to convey on a resume—but are essential to workplace success: leadership and teamwork abilities, attention to detail and ability to work under pressure, for instance. Eight years ago, when the veteran unemployment rate was at its peak of nearly 10%, JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and 10 other companies started the Veteran Jobs Mission with the goal of collectively hiring 100,000 veterans.

The coalition now includes 200+ companies and has hired 550,000 veterans as of November 2019. This is clear evidence that businesses have an important role to play in expanding opportunity and why hiring veterans should be a key focus in the recruiting strategy

**It’s also important to note that companies can also increase their diversity by hiring veterans. The veteran candidate pool is made up if roughly 20% African-American, 9% Hispanic, and 15% women. In addition, if you are a federal contractor or subcontractor, the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) requires you to take affirmative action to recruit, hire, promote, and retain veterans that fall into certain groups.

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.

Talent Acquisition Should have MORE Resources in HR

If you were to look at how most HR departments are staffed, you most likely see the following:

  • 2% Recruiting
  • 45% Operations
  • 50% Staff to handle Employee Relation issues
  • 3% Management/Strategic

Unfortunately, most companies look at this spread and think, “Wow, we’re efficient.”  I look at that spread and think, “Wow, you really have that @$$ backwards!”

I realize that one of the core functions of HR is to mitigate risk.  It is a CORE function but it is not the ONLY function.  Too many companies spend so many resources and money managing out poor or misaligned talent and mitigating risk but if they were to put more emphasis and resources on how employees enter the company, they could see a number of benefits.

Recruiting, the Last Thought for Resources but first Thought for the whipping post.

I have worked for and with a number of firms who say they value recruiting but the efforts do not support it.  Recruiters are often overlooked, underpaid and undervalued yet charged with selling the company’s brand and opportunities.  The praise and glory tends to go to the HR professionals who keep the ship running and away from the rocky shores of litigation.

It seems that when things go wrong, that’s when the spotlight is placed on recruiting with question like:

  • Why did we hire that person?
  • Why can’t you fill roles quick enough?  I mean I know we are not paying what the market is paying and hiring managers are taking forever to get back to you but you’re hired to be a magician!  Work your magic!
  • Oh, our onboarding is awful.  The recruiting group should really get on that and fix it in their free time of filling jobs, marketing our brand and all while carrying a 25+ job load.

Might sound cynical but it’s often the truth.  Maybe your firm does not have this type of regard for recruiting but most recruiters I speak with feel the same pains.  Little support given relative to the expectations placed on them.

The Solution? Beef up your Recruiting Team and lessen the HR Police.

The facts stare us in the face but organizations are slow to move resources to address it:

If recruiting teams are staffed appropriately to truly be brand engineers, talent agents, and company guards, there would be less need for HR partners to focus solely on employee relations issues and risk mitigation.

The best way to avoid having to terminate employees is to redirect energy to hiring the right ones. Ensuring success will require companies to get leadership and management invested in improving the hiring process.

The How To:

Step 1: Change the mindset within HR

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Leaders within HR must lead the charge and prioritize resources to the front of the employee funnel rather than the end.  This not only includes increasing recruiting staff with the right type of people (brand engineers, hunters etc, not just paper pushers) but also includes diverting resources to sourcing the right candidates, developing a robust branding campaign and an effective interviewing routine to only let the good apples in the basket.  Although costs to do this type of activity might cause your HR budget to be in the red initially, do not lose sight of the goal which is only letting the good people in your organization.

Step 2: Give Recruiters the Key to the Gates

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Once you have the right recruiting team in place, empower them to be the gatekeepers to your organization.  Challenge them to be incredibly selective in who they let “sit at your table”.  Give them the power and authority to be like Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings who boldly stood against a fiery enemy and proclaimed: You shall not pass.  Once you give them that power, you will be amazed at how protective your newly empowered recruiting team will be of your organization.  I would also suspect their engagement will increase proportionally.

Step 3: Educate your Internal Clients

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We all know there is a cost associated with turnover, both voluntary and involuntary.  We tend to only focus on one of these and it’s different in every organization.  In my opinion, both can be traced back to the hiring process.  Once you institute this new way of working in HR, track the expenses throughout the employee lifecycle to help prove to your internal clients that your strategy is working.  Within a year, you should be able to show a decrease in turnover for employees hired within the last year.  If you are able, track the revenue per FTE to help show the impact of retention of new hires as well.

Summary

In most medium to large organizations, HR is the last to adapt to the changing environment.  We tend to like our traditions and processes.  I hope that anyone reading this takes the time to flip the employee funnel around and track the progress it has to the company’s bottom line, engagement and other key performance indicators.  If anything, wouldn’t it be nice to spend more time and energy on how we can bring awesome people into our organization rather than how the hell we’re going to get the bad ones out?  I think that’d be a great organization to work for…. but that’s just me.

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Applying the Point System of AGILE to Recruiting

The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule but to schedule your priorities. Stephen Covey

Prior to implementing Sprint Recruiting, I found it hard to balance what should be done with what needed to be done.  Part of me was driven by my over-achiever mindset and wanted to prove I could do all things like a superman. The other part of me was driven by the value I placed on the relationships I had developed with my hiring managers.  Both drove me to succeed but I did not have a clear way to chart my ultimate destination.

What I needed to learn was how to set priorities work in my recruiting process. 

Why Priorities Work

Have you ever gone to the grocery store without a shopping list?  Maybe it was just a quick run to the store for only four items and you thought, surely you could remember four items right?

How many times have you walked out of the store, gotten hom, only to relized the main reason you went to the store was to get the one item you forgot?

This is what happens when we don’t have priorities.  Our brains are wired to rank lists in terms of priorities.  Stop and think about it:

  • 1st, 2nd & 3rd place
  • Gold, Silver Bronze
  • High, Medium, Low

Ranking allows the brain to quickly assess which tasks should be completed first. It provides structure to large sets of information and creates a virtual roadmap for items to be completed. Absent of a ranking system, our brains attempt to classify information into subsets for quicker processing. This process of prioritization taxes the brain and quickly causes fatigue and anxiety.

Imagine a job board with 25 positions, each with a different manager and each with a different required skillset. Each job is essentially its own unique search which will require a certain investment of time and administrative work.

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Which job do you start on first?

The tendency is to go after the low hanging fruit.  In the recruiting world, this is the job with the most applicants. It’ll be easier to sit and comb through a ton of resumes (most which will not qualify) than it would be to tackle the harder jobs requiring sourcing. Sound familiar?

Don’t beat yourself up, I’m guilty of doing the same. Sometimes we just need a quick win to get us going and prove to ourself we can get through the monumentous task of making all of our managers happy with the perfect candidates. Unfortunately, this is a lie and one too many recruiters keep believing.

As a recruiting manager, I had weekly conversations with executives who compalined how we were not filling their critical roles. I would go into theses meetings with with hire and sourcing reports showing how many jobs we filled to prove the managers’ accusations were wrong. 

No matter how many meetings I went to with this information, the outcome was the same. We were not meeting the needs of our clients, despite how many jobs we had filled.  If only we knew what they wanted filled and when….

Discovering the value of leveraging a points system was a journey for us. We used a number of variations of priority ranking before getting to what we use now. I think it’s important to share the journey with you to help you avoid some of the pain we experienced trying to find what method worked best.

First Iteration

Our first stab at this problem was to have our clients assign a High, Medium, or Low status to each job assigned. We would meet with the business executives and ask them to assign this priority so we could attempt to meet their needs in that sprint.

This helped us in the beginning of the iteration really focus on prioritizing our efforts.  We took the high, medium, low assignments to break down how we would spend our time sourcing during the week.  My approach was to dedicate the first 40 percent of my week to sourcing for those high priority positions to start getting candidates in the funnel early in the sprint. Once I felt ok with the number and quality of candidates in process, I’d move on to my medium priorities to do the same.

Honestly, I felt like I had a process that was working. I had a cadence and system to my week. I knew every sprint would be front loaded with sourcing time for those critical roles as defined by my client. I felt good knowing the clients’ priorities were my priorities. Everything starting to align perfectly for me.

Or so I thought.

The major issue I didn’t plan for was just how many jobs would be marked as high priority. One client marked ten of their twenty jobs in a sprint as high and the remaining as medium. I had no system put in place to limit the number of high priority designations so essentially, I had just added an H, M or L next to our job board. 

While it was not a slam dunk win, we made some slight advancement  in this iteration.  We realized we were on to something. We did see an increase in focus and productivity in our first iteration. The ranking helped us prioritize our tasks and we began talking more as a team about our high priotity positions during our standups.

What did we learn? We were one step closer to aligning our efforts to our clients’ priotities.  The problem? The client still had too many priorities.

Second Iteration

We decided in our second iteration we would limit the number of High, Medium and Low priority assignments.  Twenty-five percent of the open jobs could be High, another 25% could be Medium and the remaining would be Low priority. 

The first sprint we introduced this was a little bumpy.  The clients really struggled while trying to determine a more narrow definition of high and medium priority.  Some asked for a little wiggle room on the percentages but we held firm. Internally, we struggled as a team because we had all been programmed to fill every position as fast as we could.  There were some instances when I almost caved on my own rules but reminded myself I had limited capacity.  I also reminded myself we were not superheroes so we needed to stick with the plan.

The second iteration helped us focus even more on time blocking for sourcing, interviewing and the administrative functions of our job.  We even agreed that by day three of the sprint, we would send an update email to our managers with high priority positions informing them of our progress. After all, with fewer high and medium priorities, we were able to use our sourcing time even more efficiently.

A couple of sprints into this iteration we noticed how hard it was to report our progress.  Did we report how many high, medium, low positions we filled or did we report a percentage of goal? Many of our business partners who assigned the priorities would forget which positions were designated as what by the end of the sprint.

How could we prove to our clients and ourselves how well we were doing? The progress we made in limiting the priority positions created some capacity and efficiencies but it did not allow us to truly measure our progress effectively.

The Point System

I struggled with this for weeks. I knew there had to be an answer but I just could not figure out how to structure the prioritization correctly. I felt like the recruiting team, our clients and our HR partners were all attempting to speak the same language but it just quite wasn’t there yet.

This was about the time I read the book SCRUM by Jeff Sutherland. The AGILE Framework breaks projects into stories. The focus is on the end user so the user story is developed to capture a description of a software or product feature. The process helps to create a simplified description of a requirement and can fit into Agile frameworks like Scrum and Kanban. The purpose of a user story is to write down how a project will deliver value back to the user. It is then the project team’s job to develop the feature to satisfy the requirements of the user story. Points are applied to each story or epic to indicate priority and to measure progress in each sprint.

There it was.

I am not exaggerating when I say I actually yelled “Holy shit!” when I got to this part of the book. Finally, I saw what was right in front of me the whole time. No more high, medium or low assignments.  We were going to a point system!

I was so excited to get to the office and share my vision for our third iteration. I typically do not really put a tremendous amount of thought into execution when I’m in an iterative mode on a project.  The very first sprint call we had with a client, I introduced the concept of a budget of 100 points.

We worked through the first call with one of our clients who enjoys trying new things. They were as invested in making this new recruiting methodology work as much as we were. As we went through this groups 20 positions, we noticed something happen: we were all speaking the same language.

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The Outcome

Rather than seven to ten high priority jobs out of a batch of 25 jobs, we had a clearer ranking of what was critical to the business. Our business partner gave one job 25 points, another two 15 points and then spread the remaining points equally over the remaining roles.  When we hung up the phone, the recruiter and I immediately began planning how we were going to get those two jobs filled to show the clients we were rock stars. 

We almost became obsessed with the points.  Our standups became centered around progress we had made on those high point roles. My one on ones were focused on the progress made during the week on the “high pointers” which gave us a standard agenda for this biweekly time together.  We build dashboards to track how many points we gained by day during the sprint to chart our progress both individually and as a team. Finally, we found what worked.

Our clients liked it too.  It was clearer for them to assign points against a budget. If you have 100 points and have 25 jobs, it might be easy for the client to simply assign four points to each job in the beginning. We had fortunately been through two iterations over roughly three months by the time we discovered the point system so it was an easier transition for our clients.

We did make a minor tweek to point allocation in the middle of our third iteration, instituting a rule that 60% of the points could be spread over no more than five roles. This was a tough sale at first but over time, the clients began to see how the prioritization and focus produced results.

The consistent progress we made in each sprint filling the jobs bought us more credibility and trust with our clients. It also allowed us to position ourselves less as order takers and more as consultants. During the biweekly allocation meetings, we would update the clients on progress made during the previous sprint while also identifying and addressing any obstacles experienced. 

The points allowed us to have a common language. Our clients were business people, they’re used to numbers. We are recruiters and competitive by nature. Numbers worked. Metrics also helped us fine tune our recruiting processes and lingo.

We have our process now and I don’t think we’ll be going back to the old way of recruiting anytime soon! Sprint Recruiting works for us and could work for you too!

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.