4 powerful ways to optimise your recruitment process

When it comes to the recruitment process – it’s pretty much the same everywhere, right? We define a new role, interview some people and make a hire – it’s all very similar. But when that process is optimised for our own needs, and we learn to tweak it based on our learnings, well that’s where the magic happens.

Recruitment is a service and our aim should always be on getting a bit better every day. Hires should be of higher quality, candidate and hiring manager experience should be improved and our process should become more and more efficient.

This mentality is a big one in Agile and Lean project management, and one which we should be instilling in our team and our recruitment projects. In order for us to become better recruiters, we need to constantly learn from our successes and failures. Only when we are aware of what works and what doesn’t – and why – can we refine our methods and practices. And that’s when ‘a bit better every day’ happens.

At LevelUp, we’ve started implementing Agile recruitment to make sure we are learning and optimising our projects constantly. We’re not fully agile just yet, but we have already started using some key aspects. We iterate the process frequently, work in 2-week sprints and review our progress in “retrobreakfasts”. Using Lean principles, we’re also making sure unnecessary (wasteful) aspects are removed as much as possible.

breakfast table

On a personal note, I love (and am mildly obsessed with) processes – especially efficient ones! There’s just so much comfort in having a plan that works. And the satisfaction of getting to the end goal quicker, and with a better result than expected is the ultimate high (for me at least)!

In the past few years of creating, implementing and refining processes, I’ve established 4 rules of thumb you can use to make your recruitment operations smooth and productive.

1. Repeat key stages in the process so there is always a plan B

All recruiters know that the hire is the gold at the end of the rainbow. It’s what we all work towards, and what gives most of us that rush of excitement. That being said, we shouldn’t only focus on the end result. Common feedback from hiring managers include wanting a shorter time to fill, having more (qualified) candidates in the pipeline, and knowing there’s a safety net. These needs can be solved if there’s a continuous flow of candidates.

You know that saying, “don’t keep all your eggs in one basket”? That’s very true for recruitment. We should never pin all our hopes and dreams on that one candidate, because let’s face it, you never know what could happen! He/She could accept another offer at the last minute, or the hiring managers might change their minds about the offer. Realising that recruitment is more of a cycle with key stages (sourcing, reaching out, phone screens and interviews)  being repeated, will ensure the pipeline stays full and there’s always a backup plan.

2. “Think big, start small, move fast”

This is IBM’s AgileTA motto and I think it’s one of the phrases that resonates the most with me about process optimisation. It’s all about keeping the ball rolling and only doing the tasks which get us one step closer to the goal.

You may ask, “what impact do Agile principles have on recruitment?” Some of the benefits include:

  • Constantly keeping the hiring managers engaged and involved in the process
  • Transparency and focus is maintained with small intervals of planned work
  • Progress is reviewed often which helps in dealing with last minute changes
  • Self-organising teams are more proactive, and people take ownership for their actions
  • There is collaboration and commitment to work together to achieve success
  • Learning and development is continuous with regular reviews

If you’re interested in getting some more insight into IBM’s AgileTA, check out this blog post and look at the visual below which gives a high-level overview of a 2-week recruitment sprint from Beamery:

3. Focus on progress, not process

It’s quite common to spend a lot of time developing a structure or process first. But what happens when that structure is too rigid? In that case, progress stagnates. The aim of any process should be to have forward movement to the goal.

Think of it this way:

When you need to restock your fridge, the process might include identifying what you need to buy at the grocery store, going to the store and buying the food, and then packing the groceries away at home. But, without making space in your kitchen for the new food or actually going to the store, you won’t end up with a restocked fridge.

The process itself may be the backbone for achieving the goal, but without progress, the end result will never be reached. And what’s the key to making progress? Well that’s continuously improving the procedure, and learning from the successes and mistakes.

4. Make sure each and every action adds value

When there is a new task or action added to the process, the first question should be: “Is this going to move us closer to our goal?” If the answer is “maybe”, hesitation, or a flat-out “no”, don’t do it! We should only be putting our time and effort into things which have a direct, positive impact in the process.

This is a key principle used in Lean Six Sigma project management – eliminate as many wasteful activities so that there are only value-adding activities remaining.

Within recruitment, wasteful activities could be:

  • Transportation: switching focus between tasks or roles often, or having unnecessary interview stages (e.g.: 3 face to face interviews, 1 tech assignment and a lunch with the entire team)
  • Waiting: for hiring managers to respond to questions via email, instead of just picking up the phone and getting a decision directly
  • Overproduction: Over-filling the pipeline with high volumes of candidates sourced without knowing if these profiles are the best fit, or rewriting the job vacancy over and over to get it absolutely perfect
  • Inventory: posting the job vacancy on numerous paid platforms which don’t target the right market
  • Motion: holding multiple intake meetings with the hiring manager asking the same questions or putting in a lot of time to find additional info just for the sake of having additional info

To summarise, process optimization takes time and effort – it’s not going to happen overnight. But with these 4 ways to improve your process, you can easily gain more speed and impact in recruitment. Using principles from Agile and Lean will help you to continuously enhance the operation. Take baby steps, focus on doing tasks which are beneficial and not wasteful and learn constantly.

Perhaps my biggest learning about process optimisation though is that you’ve got to make it work for you! Be flexible enough to be able to change things around if necessary, focus on moving forward and commit to the progress.

by Teri Gibson – Head of Operations