All Positions ARE NOT Created Equal

Spend any time speaking with a recruiter or recruitment leader in today’s world and you will likely hear they are overwhelmed by the number of positions, applicants, hiring leaders and systems being managed on a daily basis.  After all, the new mantra within the workplace since the 2009 recession is ‘do more with less.’  The net result, a lot more work per person.  It is easy for a recruiting department to be busy but lack meaningful productivity.  They can get caught up doing low value tasks, in fighting fires and servicing ‘squeaky wheels’ rather than having an impact on the organizations most critical hiring needs.  All positions ARE NOT created EQUAL.

I recently learned of a company where each recruiter within the centralized recruitment function is managing 70+ openings at a time.  Many of the recruiters are overwhelmed.  The organization has missed revenue projections for the last quarter, while not accepting new clients.  Why are they turning customers (and therefore revenue) away?  Because there is not enough staff to deliver the required services.  As you peel back the layers, you discover the recruiter responsible for this division is spending the vast majority of time managing the recruitment process for easier to fill non-revenue generating requisitions rather than for tougher to fill, revenue generating roles.  The recruiter is very, very busy and working hard to satisfy the needs of the most vocal hiring managers.  Busy, but not productive, and as a result, revenue opportunity is lost.  How might this recruiter (and frankly the recruitment leader) prioritize their time differently?  What if there was a clear understanding of how their effectiveness impacted the objective of the business?  What message might be sent to the ‘squeaky wheel’ hiring manager if everyone was focused on the right objectives, i.e. making money so people can be employed and the business can make investments.  What rapport could be established with the most senior executives within the business?

As you dig even further into this particular organization, you learn there are other divisions within the operation which have decided to use temporary employees and contractors to fill vacancies so clients can be supported.  Why?  Because the internal recruiting team is not identifying the talent fast enough to get the positions filled and the divisional leadership does not want to lose out on revenue.  However, by using higher cost resources to deliver core services the organization is sacrificing profit margin.  What has the recruiter for this division been working on?  After probing , you learn the recruiter has been spending an equal amount of time trying to service every hiring manager (both for revenue generating and non-revenue generating positions).  A valiant effort, no doubt, but the process this recruiter has decided to follow reveals further challenges.  Some of their key positions have plenty of applicants, as the organization is viewed as an employer of choice.  The recruiter decided not to screen any resumes, but to simply forward along every single applicant to the hiring managers being supported.  No value is being added to the recruitment process for the hiring managers, they are left to do their own screening of resumes, phone interviews and on-site interview scheduling.  As a result, hiring managers are taking the easy but more expensive route which has resulted in the use of 3rd party agency resources.  What a missed opportunity for the recruiting organization to have a direct and meaningful impact on the business! The hiring managers and business leaders are begging for help, pleading for someone to care as much about their operation as they do. 

These types of scenarios are not limited to this particular firm.  I know of a service organization who pays almost $1m per year in overtime wages due to the lack of performance by the recruiting group.  Ouch!  Talk about a chance to leave a mark.  The fact of the matter is there are a number of businesses whose bottom lines could be directly impacted by an effective recruitment department.

In order for a recruitment team to perform strategically, they need to have a very clear understanding regarding how their performance impacts the objectives of the business.  How do they impact profitability?  How do they impact revenue?  So many recruitment leaders are focused on reducing the cost of recruitment they do not consider how the reduction in cost might be flowing through to the business.  It is completely possible to have a reduced cost per hire result in lost revenue opportunity for the business, creating a net loss for the organization as a whole.

As previously stated, all positions ARE NOT created equal.  In order for a recruitment team to understand the most critical hiring needs, they should first have a good sense of how their activity impacts the outcomes of the business.  How does the company make money?  How does the lack of a position being filled impact staffing costs?  How does an unfilled opening impact morale and/or turnover within a department?  How do improper staffing levels impact quality of service?  Does being under staffed introduce risk to the business?  Asking these questions and getting answers is how you start to get a seat at the table as a recruitment leader.  Engage with the business leaders, figure out what drives their business and work your tail off to impact it in a positive way.

There are a few things you can do to get started:

1. Spend meaningful time with the individual(s) responsible for managing the profit & loss statements to understand how staffing (or lack thereof) impacts cost and revenue

2. Share what you learn with your recruitment team and establish a mindset to impact the business beyond just closing a requisition

3. Create a plan to attack those positions which have a direct impact on the profitability or revenue of the business  . . . including how certain investments might result in an overall positive net impact to the bottom line

4. Measure how your plan actually impacts the departments’ profits and/or revenue

5. Report back and modify as required

I certainly believe you would be viewed as a more strategic member of the organization should you choose to implement these ideas.  It is this type of activity, thought leadership and interest which is required to truly earn a seat at the executive table.