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.

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

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.

Photo by Vlad Chețan on Pexels.com

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.

Top 2 Ways Machine Learning can Change Recruiting

Each new year brings the topic of Recruiting or Talent Strategy to the forefront of business news. My discussions with other Directors of Talent Acquisition have shifted from strategies to tools to help us meet the needs of our businesses. The impact machine learning can have in recruiting is very exciting.

Machine Learning is becoming one of the most influential and powerful technologies in the world. Traditionally, software engineering combined human created rules with data to find answers to a problem. Machine learning uses data and answers to discover the rules or reasons behind the problem. The amount of data available to recruiters is so immense, it can cause our brains to shut down and miss valuable insights that a tool like machine learning can provide.

Here are two ways machine learning can change recruiting.

Improve Recruiter Efficiency and Candidate Experience

Companies are training machine learning algorithms to help employers automate repetitive aspects of the recruitment process such as resume and application review. Imagine the day when you arrive to find your AI Buddy had been working all night to screen and sort your top applicants. Recruiters would be able to focus more time on value added interviews compared to today’s world wrought with frantic and chaotic processes that are inefficient and detrimental to the candidate experience.

Ideal is one company that offers machine learning and AI to help transform the recruiting process. The firm claims its virtual assistant is already trained on “millions of past hiring decisions” so it can quickly adapt to each new client’s recruitment process. Examples of decisions may include advancing applicants to the interview stage and hiring candidates. 

According to Ideal’s website, one of its larger clients reported 71% reduction in cost of hire and tripled the number of qualified candidates. The case study cites Ideal’s ability to automatically review candidates based on previous hiring decisions and then notify candidates of their status. This not only reduced the amount of low-impact activities for the recruiting team members but also increased the candidate experience. You can watch their testimonial here.

Take Sourcing into Warp Drive

There are a number of startups in the recruiting space focused on how to leverage machine learning to ramp up the sourcing efforts for recruiters. Machine learning can leverage past information to help predict which candidates may be the best fit for your organization. While this is an amazing step up from our current sourcing strategies, machine learning could also identify candidates who are perfect for your organization and are more likely to take your call. This would be a game-changer for recruiting!

Entelo is one example of a talent sourcing software company reportedly using machine learning to help recruiters discover quality candidates. The company claims its proprietary algorithm, More Likely to Move™, is capable of identifying individuals who have a 30 percent likelihood of changing jobs within the next 90 days. In one case study , Entelo reports one of its clients was able to improve its discovery of qualified, diverse candidates. The client reported an increase in its diversity efforts, raising its female hires from 40 percent to 47 percent and minority technical hires from 1.5 percent to 11 percent.

Photo by Franck V. on Unsplash

A report by Glassdoor suggests that 66 percent of millennials anticipate leaving their current jobs by 2020. With unemployment being at a ten year low and the high costs of turnover becoming targets for business expense control measures, there will be even more pressure on Talent Acquisition professionals to up their game. AI recruitment tools using predictive analytics and machine learning to recommend candidates will become the differentiating factor in the war for talent.

I am excited by the changes I’ve already seen in the industry and plan to spend a lot of time exploring new tools in the AI and machine learning space in 2020.

Unlocking the Power of Recruiting with Emsi Skills

Job descriptions can be a valuable tool or the silver bullet that kills your first chance with prospective candidates. Contrary to popular rhetoric in recruiting circles, job descriptions are not dead but they do need to evolve. Emsi Skills is a valuable tool for recruiters who want to create a more effective job description and evolve into a more consultative talent agent for their clients.

What does Emsi Skills do?

Emsi has curated a list of nearly 30,000 skills from hundreds of job postings, resumes and professional profiles, according to its own website. It is an open-access skills database that provides an up-to-date collection of the real-world skills that people have and employers value. The skill library is updated every two weeks based on live postings and profiles, as well as suggestions from the community submitted through the Emsi Skills website.

Build the right job description

I know I struggle with job descriptions that come up short. Some are too long and lose a candidate’s interest while others are not truly describing the job I would like to market. Even if the job description is decent, it usually lacks the key words needed to leverage the power of SEO (search engine optimization), leaving it to fall on the second or third page of search results. Emsi will give job postings clarity by auditing desired skills and level setting expectations with hiring managers.

Managers often forget key skills they need for the role and simply hit the high points during the recruiter intake meeting. The Emsi Skills tool gives recruiters the ability to delve deeper into a job to develop the most effective search terms for their sourcing strategy.

Bonus: This tool is also a great enhancement for those of us dedicated to internal recruiting. It will allow firms to match employees quickly to jobs based on their skills versus what an employee may put on their resume. More on this later in the post!

Skill Clustering

In  New Geography of Skills, economist Enrico Moretti discussed an interesting idea. He suggests there are economic shifts happening on a more micro than macro level. Emsi has taken a unique approach to analyzing skills by looking for natural relationships between skills and seeing how they group or cluster together in a market or region.

Recruiters are dependent on the Labor Bureau statistics to create very rudimentary, outline-style lists of major skill sets. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t enjoy reviewing an exhaustive list of skills and its permutations to develop a search strategy. The Emsi Skills tool will graph skill groups into an easy to understand infographic. With Emsi, roles are defined based on a network of related skills as they emerge and shift in the market. See the example below:

This is one small step to help recruiters become more consultative and less reactive. By analyzing the relationships between skills and other aspects of work, we can infer
differences job titles and job skills. This small step will enable us to become more effective talent advisors to our clients.

Measuring the Internal Gap

As the market continues to heat up, companies will begin to focus even more inward to find and develop talent to meet the demands of the changing economy. The Emsi Skills tool will allow talent acquisition to measure internal talent against the enhanced job descriptions (created with Emsi’s help). Recruiters will finally have a tool to help clients create reskill and upskill strategies by analyzing underlying skills for different roles.

The focus on internal talent development and retention is a hot topic right now. As companies fight for talent in the market, some have chosen to focus and invest in their own talent rather than fighting for talent on the street. This strategy can prove to not only help with retention but also with employer branding. Numerous surveys point to a workforce more inclined to work for a company that invests in the continuous development of its employees. Emsi enables companies to finally compare employee skills to emerging skills trends to drive learning and development priorities.


I’ve used the Emsi Skills tool on most of my searches over the last thirty days and have found it incredibly ease to use and insightful. It can help anyone in HR become more informed and impactful to their business. Most of the similar tools in the market come with a hefty price tag and do not meet the level of insight the Emsi Skills tool provides.

I plan to write another post focused primarily on how recruiters can use Emsi to develop better search strategies and own the talent market.

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.

Most Read Recruiting Blog Posts of 2019

I cannot believe 2020 is only two weeks away! Professionally, year has been a year of transformation for my group as we rolled Sprint Recruiting out to the entire organization. As an industry, we’ve seen a lot of hype about AI in Talent Acquisition and other analytic-based solutions showcased in the market. This post will be a roundup of the most read recruiting blog posts of 2019.

Recruiting Metrics-Measure what Counts

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. It was ranked highest on my most read recruiting blog posts of 2019. Read more here.

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. This post was the highest ranked vendor review on my most read recruiting blog posts of 2019. Read more here.

Top 3 Recruiting Trends for 2020

It’s hard to believe there are only 42 days left of 2019. This time of year is complicated for me as I begin closing out the last minute year-end projects while also begin planning for what we should accomplish in 2020. Part of the planning process is identifying the top recruiting trends and the tools I want to use to maximize our talent acquisition strategy. Here are the top 3 recruiting trends for 2020. (My list at least!) Read more here.

What is Sprint Recruiting?

Traditional recruiting is sometimes the very definition of insanity. You get a job, you search for candidates, conduct interviews, place the candidate, they quit, and the cycle repeats. Numerous issues and landmines frequent the journey for the recruiters searching for the best talent. Sprint Recruiting helps prioritize the work, keep your focus and enables you to kick ass! Read more here.


Here’s to an awesome close of 2019! I hope you’ve enjoyed the context on the blog so far. Please let me know what topics you are most interested in for 2020 by commenting below!

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.

Why Sprints work in Sprint Recruiting

One of the key drivers of Sprint Recruiting is the sprint itself. It is also one of the major mindshifts both recruiters and clients have to address when adopting the Sprint Recruiting methodology. Why do sprints work in Sprint Recruiting? One word-efficiency!

“With Scrum, a product is built in a series of iterations called sprints that break down big, complex projects into bite-sized pieces,” said Megan Cook, Group Product Manager for Jira Software at Atlassian.

First, let’s define what a sprint is. According to the AGILE methodology, a sprint is a short, time-boxed period when a team works to complete a set amount of work. Sprints are at the very heart of scrum and agile methodologies, and getting sprints right will help your agile produce better results with fewer headaches.

Agile also uses the pull versus pull methodology to create efficiency.

The push/pull terminology is commonly associated with logistics or operations management. Neither process is more right than the other but in sprint recruiting, we employ the pull method.

Imagine a factory with a line of workers assembling a product. Every time one station gets through with their portion of the assembly, they push it to the next and begin the process again. It’s not a bad method necessarily, but it takes longer for a push-based supply chain to respond to changes in demand, which can result in overstocking or bottlenecks and delays. This creates a ton of inefficiency in the process which directly affects your profit line.

Imagine the same scenario but this time, your station only begins working on a new assembly once your partnering station pulls your completed product to theirs. This is the pull method where production and distribution are demand-driven rather than to forecast.

To demonstrate the power of sprint in increasing efficiency, I usually have groups go through my “Paper Airplane Factory” session. The teams usually laugh and ask how hard could making airplanes be but once they get into the process, they learn how complicated it can be.

I recently conducted this training in our Texas locations with team members new to the Sprint Recruiting process. The goal is pretty simple- each completed airplane is a profit of $100 and they will have five minutes to see how many they can make.

Each team member has one to two tasks to complete in the contruction of the plane. Once they are completed with their step, they are to move on to produce as many as they can in the time allotted. At the end of the session, we will measure the profitability, waste, and backlogs. We would also break down their profit by minute to create our baseline to compare with future sessions.

There are usually three iterations in this training I like to use.

First-no sprint process: It’s fairly straightforward in this session. I simply time the group to see how many airplanes they can make using the push method.

Second1 Sprint Iteration:We will stop the clocks at the middle mark to allow the team to assess what’s working and what isn’t to make necessary adjustments. In this iteration, the team has to use the pull method.

Third2 Sprint Iterations -We stop every minute and a half for 30 seconds to make changes and continue. Nothing is off the table. The teams are allowed to completely redesign the process in any way they feel to be more efficient.

Measuring Efficiency in Sprint Recruiting

I always enjoy facilitating this session and watching the teams work to streamline or enhance their process. I’ve seen multiple variations of this excercise and no two methods have been alike. That’s the power of sprint process-iterative learning.

Iteration 1: Push Method

• 10 planes completed

• Average of 3.33 planes per minute

• Total profit of $1,000

Iteration 2: With 1 Sprint Iteration

• Profit per minute of $333.33

• 13 planes completed

• Average of 4.33 planes per minute

• Total profit of $1,300

• Profit per minute of $433.33

• 19 planes completed

Iteration 3: With 3 Sprint Iterations

• Average of 6.33 planes per minute

• Total profit of $1,900

• Profit per minute of $633.33

The idea of stopping in the middle of the process to discuss ways to increase production or deliberate on what method works better sounds counterintuitive to the participants at first. Once I show them the difference in the profitability per minute, they are almost always astounded by the increase in production and profitability.

In the above example, profitablity increased 200 dollars per minute or 90% from the first to third iteration. Only having one sprint iteration increased the profitability per minute by 30%. Without the ability for production teams to stop, evaluate and decide on better processes, these efficiencies would not have been found.

Sprint Recruiting Efficiency

Recruiting can be a rat wheel at times…well, most of the time. The sprints help me and the team stop bi-weekly to discuss our successes in ord to find ways to scale them for future sprints. It could be a new sourcing tool we discovered or a new trick in our applicant tracking system that helped us bank more points. Regardless of the success, we document these successes to implement and continue to evolve.

Prior to Sprint Recruiting, this success sharing was limited. We usually continued doing the same old thing the same old way, expecting better results week over week. Our Sprint Recruiting method has allowed us to formalize this sharing to maximize our iterative growth every two weeks.

The same holds true for identifying and discussing what went wrong. What are the obstacles? Is it a process or people? How do we overcome or avoid it next sprint? This process helps us not only scale our good but deal with our bad! (Sorry for the Facts of Life allusion!)

Similar to the airplane making exercise, our team has become better with each sprint. Sure, we still have some sprints when we wonder what the hell went wrong but those have become fewer over time.

We’ve also become closer as a team because we actually pause to celebrate our wins. This is important in any type of recruiting but especially in corporate, in-house recruiting. Unlike working for a firm, we do not have the big “pay-day” celebration for big wins. The Sprint Recruiting methodology allows us to celebrate the wins we do get.

Implementing Sprints in Recruiting

The Houston Team Celebrating after the Airplane activity.

If you’re curious about how to start with sprints in recruiting, you should be. It’s a fantastic way to tackle large recruiting projects or high volume targets.

You’ll first need to identify a business unit that is open to innovation. Our first couple of clients who were in our beta version of Sprint Recruiting were great partners not only because they embraced innovation but also because they gave great feedback. You will want to design your sprint around the needs of your client so it’s critically important to have a solid partner who will tell you the good and the bad as you begin your journey.

Second, you’ll want to select the jobs to be included in the sprint. The easiest way is to have the entire business unit’s roles in the sprint but that may not always be the best scenario your first time into it. Talk with your client to garner their buyin on which route works best for them.

Finally, you’ll need to develop a point target to strive towards in your sprint with each position being awarded a point value by the client. This will help you measure your efficiency sprint to sprint. (More on the point system coming in a future post.)


The adage, “it’s not a sprint it’s a marathon”, is good in some situations, but not when you want to increase efficiency in recruiting. The sprint is a powerful tool used to help drive innovation, bust down obstacles, and drive client experience. If you find yourself struggling and in a rut, give Sprint Recruiting a test drive with recruiting in sprints. It doesn’t have to be a two week sprint, maybe start with a four week sprint.

Find what works for you and keep iterating! I think you’ll become addicted to the quick successes you’ll achieve as a team. Be sure to comment below and let me know your experience goes and if you need my help!

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.

Top 3 Recruiting Trends for 2020

It’s hard to believe there are only 42 days left of 2019. This time of year is complicated for me as I begin closing out the last minute year-end projects while also begin planning for what we should accomplish in 2020. Part of the planning process is identifying the top recruiting trends and the tools I want to use to maximize our talent acquisition strategy. Here are the top 3 recruiting trends for 2020. (My list at least!)

Candidate Engagement

According to a recent LinkedIn Survey, 70 percent of the global workforce is made up of passive job seekers. Engaging the passive job market has always been tough but low unemployment rates have created a candidate driven market. If your primary recruiting strategy is to post and pray, you will not survive in 2020. For those of us who go out and find the right candidates, keeping their attention has become even harder with all of the noise of competitors.

Photo by Jason Rosewell on Unsplash

Leveraging tools like Jobvite and similar platforms to grow and maintain your passive candidate marketing efforts will be vital to success in 2020. Human Resource departments around the country that have internal marketing teams solely focused on internal communications and engagement will have to shift to focus on how to engage external candidates with content.

I recently shared a post discussing influencer marketing in Talent Acquisition. Companies like Adidas and Nike have leveraged influencers to market their brand and expand their reach. This strategy provides a more authentic approach to marketing and consumer engagement. I foresee leaders in talent acquisition exploring this tactic and others in 2020 to engage the passive candidates, grow an audience and build pipelines.

Candidate Management

One of the most frustrating parts of talent acquisition is finding the perfect candidate but not having the perfect role for them. Striking gold is hard in this market so what do you do when you find that perfect candidate who isn’t right for the current search but great for your company?

Photo by Maksym Kaharlytskyi on Unsplash

Managing a candidate pipeline will become even more critical in 2020, especially in the high demand talent areas like software developers and data scientist. Half (51%) of the recruiting professionals surveyed by LinkedIn said these tools would have a big impact in the future, while 43% are currently using them.  Ideally, you should have a tool that not only manages prospective candidates but also provides you a method to keep them engaged.

There are a number of great candidate relationship management (CRM) systems on the market. Platforms like Bullhorn, TalentLyft and my favorite, Avature offer recruiters the ability to pipeline and engage talent. If you are considering a CRM, be sure to measure its ability to build talent pools, rank talent and nurture your prospects.

Data, Data, Data

My poor team…

This year has been all about my obsession with data and I have to say that 2020 will bring more of the same. I’ve shared some thoughts on why data analytics is important in talent acquisition in earlier posts and I’m not alone. When asked about the future of recruiting, 43% of respondents said that leveraging data effectively will be a priority. Other surveys show 84% believe that analyzing talent data to drive decisions is becoming an increasingly important skill for recruiters to master. 

I’ve reviewed a couple of tools this year on the blog including Visier and Emsi. Data analytic tools are becoming a hot commodity in talent acquisition. Recruiters must leverage data to better understand the market, where candidates are hiding and what it will take to get them to make a move.

Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash

Visier’s recruiting metrics dashboard provides insight for both your internal and external candidate flow and trends while offering some pretty unreal insights to your labor force. If you pair this information with the market analysis Emsi does leveraging the powerhouse of information regarding the labor market, you can create a more well-informed and realistic talent strategy in 2020.

Talent Acquisition leaders and team must become fluent in the language of data to remain relevant and competitive in 2020.

Final Thoughts

I’m excited about what 2020 will bring!

The talent acquisition is one that requires constant evolution which is one of the reasons I love the industry. Be sure to take the time to begin preparing for the new year by exploring how you will master candidate engagement, candidate management and the influx of talent data.

If you’d like some help evaluating tools and metrics, here are a couple of other posts to get you started!

Recruiting Metrics, Measure What Counts– Learn what metrics really matter in your talent acquisition strategy

Data Analytics and Recruiting-How Data will transform how we do talent acquisition.

Visier’s Talent Analytics Add-On-A Must for the new age of data driven talent acquisition

3 Reasons why relying on your ATS to develop a strategy is a mistake-Helpful insights from Visier.

Emsi – A powerful tool for labor market insights.

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 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:

  • 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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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
  • Special Q&A sessions to learn how Sprint Recruiting can help you transform your Talent Strategy.