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Your Guide to Recruiter Productivity (and How to Increase it)

Posted by
Diana Mitchell
March 20, 2023

The situation has changed from a year ago. Especially three years ago. As we head into 2023, teams are shrinking, hiring has changed, talent expectations have changed, and a lot of professionals are on edge. That’s why recruiter productivity should be a top priority right now.

Amongst all that, recruiters need to operate at their most efficient. Delivering on all these expectations while in the midst of economic uncertainty and a mindset shift in talent is a LOT.

Why recruiter productivity is more important than ever

While there is some uncertainty for a lot of folks across industries right now, there are some pressing changes and challenges that recruiters are facing that impact productivity, like:

The Great Resignation (aka Great Reshuffle, Quiet Quitting, etc)

It is completely acceptable to roll your eyes here – I’m tired of that phrase too. But there is some merit to it. Although the notion of a “Great Resignation” began in 2021, many experts are still discussing it in the present tense. Yes, even amidst layoffs and a looming recession, people are still looking for greener pastures (at other employers or via self employment/freelancing).

Your candidate funnel needs to stay full, and not just full of any and all candidates, but full of engaged talent relevant to the skills and background your organization is seeking (or will likely be seeking). For recruiters to increase productivity, it’s imperative to better leverage the candidates that are already in the database.

Competition in recruiting is fierce

Recession or no recession, top performers will always be in demand. And your recruiters will always be searching for ways to reach, engage, and retain them throughout the hiring process.

But reaching, engaging, and retaining top talent takes time and effort. Maxed out recruiting teams don’t typically have extra hours to spare each week, which can make it challenging to increase recruiter productivity.

Shift in candidate expectations makes it difficult to increase recruiter productivity

Sense CEO Anil Dharni has been discussing this quite a bit lately on some major publications, and it bears repeating – talent mindsets have shifted, and their expectations right along with it. They don’t just expect recruiters to respond to their messages in a timely fashion (although that will always be important).

They expect recruiters to serve almost as career coaches, helping them to find the right roles within their organization and then moving them through the process toward receiving and accepting a job offer.

As with everything else I’m mentioning here, that kind of thought, care, and attention takes time.

Recruiting teams are maxed out

The previous points lead here – recruiting teams are already maxed out. They were pre-pandemic, and they have been all along. But now with many budgets and teams shrinking, they are expected to not only keep up production with fewer resources, they have to meet new demands and expectations from talent.

It’s a lot.

Roadblocks to increase recruiter productivity (and solutions)

There are some pretty significant, albeit fixable, roadblocks to recruiter productivity that are likely hampering just about every recruiting team right now. I’m going to take a closer look at them and offer some suggestions for fixing/improving them – I won’t leave you high and dry here. There are ways to improve this situation without adding headcount and significant costs.  

Without further ado, the roadblocks that are eating up your recruiters’ time (with some suggestions for fixing those roadblocks):

Meetings and how they impact recruiter productivity

Be honest – has there ever been a meeting you were looking forward to?! Meetings are a necessity, but they don’t necessarily have to be a productivity suck when it comes to your recruiting efforts. There are some pretty consistent areas where meetings tend to drain the most productivity, like:

Back-and-forth scheduling

Scheduling meetings and interviews is doubly inefficient for recruiters. First, because it takes time to go back and forth while trying to set them up – it can take days to set up a meeting. Second, when it comes to scheduling interviews, the time it takes to sync a date and time for the interview often leads to candidates being pulled toward other opportunities.

Oh, and what if you go through all that only to find out that a candidate isn’t a fit? Multiply that by 10, 20, 100?! Talk about a waste of time!

Too many meetings decrease productivity

And to that point, let’s be honest: Could that meeting have been taken care of in a Slack conversation or email? The University of North Carolina surveyed 182 senior managers in various industries: 65% said meetings keep them from completing their work. 71% said meetings are unproductive and inefficient. 64% said meetings come at the expense of deep thinking. I mean…that’s a lot of waste. And in quite a few cases, a well-crafted email, Slack conversation or even a quick, impromptu Zoom rather than a full-fledged meeting can often resolve questions or needs. Check out our ready-to-use cold recruiting email templates that you can easily customize and use.

Inefficient meetings reduce productivity

Of course, sometimes we really do need meetings. It’s the nature of, well…work! But, meetings are often so inefficient, they end up taking way more time than necessary. There are some ways around this problem, though – chief among them is an agenda. And not just any agenda – it has to be laser-focused, and you have to stick to it for an agenda to actually help. What’s the point of the meeting? What should happen for it to be successful? And what will it take to achieve the goal while in the meeting?

Eliminate whoever is unnecessary – if someone is “optional,” then they probably shouldn’t be included on the invite at all. Leave time at the end for everyone to make sure they’re clear on what’s expected of them and any next steps. And keep meetings to 50 minutes or less if you can. This gives people much-needed breaks to hit the bathroom, grab some water, or get some food between calls (we’ve ALL had those days where there were an endless barrage of calls). Many meetings need only 20 or 50 minutes if they have crisp agendas. If you aren’t ready to get there just yet, make it a goal. Everyone will thank you :)

Job Matching and its impact on productivity

Figure out the “secret formula” to matching the right talent to the right jobs and your day becomes a cake walk, right? So then why do so many recruiters struggle here?

Poor-fit applicants

Sifting through poor-fit applicants is a major time suck for recruiters. As the economic slowdown continues (and/or gets worse), the risk of getting inundated with more, poor-fit applicants increases – along with its impact on your recruiter calendars.

One of the biggest contributors to this problem is actually your job postings. Very few recruiters put the time and effort into crafting job postings that actually sell the right talent on your company and jobs. If you’re not sure how to craft job postings that achieve this goal and you don’t have a recruitment marketing professional on your team, reach out to your marketing department – seriously. One key way to increase recruiter productivity is your job postings. Your job postings are literally advertisements for your jobs and company. Treat them that way, and you’re much more likely to attract the right talent to your job openings (and actually get them to apply!). Well-crafted job postings also make it clear who should and shouldn’t apply, helping to shave wasted time off your calendar and helping you make better hires. Win/win! I recently put together some recommendations to help you craft better-converting job postings, and you can find those here.

Better candidate data also plays a role in increasing recruiter productivity by better matching talent to jobs. Rich candidate data and profiles in your ATS help recruiters better find talent with the skills and background necessary to thrive in your (or your clients’) open roles. But, overworked recruiters don’t typically have the time needed to consistently update candidate profiles for tens of thousands of candidates. Automation plays a powerful role here. Sense customers, for example, use Engage to automatically send emails or texts to candidates in their database to update their personal and professional data (in many cases, actually updating candidate profiles in your ATS). This helps keep candidate profiles strong and up to date, while also helping to reactivate dormant talent.

Out-of-control job board spend

Chances are you’re spending at least $10,000 a month on job boards. At least. That adds up quickly, and as I’ve mentioned already – and this will come as no surprise to you – many folks are throwing around the ‘r’ word, as in recession. Maximizing every penny is essential, and there are plenty of pennies being thrown at job boards every month.

Our own research found that up to 40% of candidates you pay to attract via job boards each month are already in your database(!). Imagine at least $6,000 flying away each month, because that’s essentially what’s happening as you spend money to attract candidates you’ve already attracted.

Technology really comes to the rescue here. A talent engagement platform like Sense can help you reactivate dormant candidates by leveraging automation. And the most powerful platforms (definitely Sense) leverage AI to best match the candidates in your database to your job openings. That means you’re not blasting talent with a generic email linking to all your openings. Instead, you’re sending personalized messages to candidates inviting them to apply to jobs that match their skills, background, and interests.

All of this happens automatically, so rather than adding more work to busy recruiters’ to-do lists, it saves them time and increases productivity all while also helping them make better hires. This one is a game changer and will help recruiting teams of all sizes achieve results far beyond what similarly-sized recruiting teams are able to do manually or with inferior technology.

Poor candidate sentiment and negative word of mouth

Sense leadership has been shouting this from the rooftops, but it bears repeating – there is no longer a “candidate’s market” or “employer’s market.” At least not in the terms you’re probably considering. Where an “employer’s market” means candidates can be treated like numbers and have terrible experiences with your company because they should be “grateful” to even be considered.

Candidate expectations have changed. Permanently. Top talent (any talent) expects an exceptional experience with employers regardless of the economy. That’s not going to change, recession or not. That makes positive reviews and word of mouth more important than ever. Whether it’s a Google or Glassdoor review, or perhaps even more dangerously, word of mouth in conversations, texts, or on social, creating negative experiences for talent is going to hurt you in the short and long run. It will catch up to you.

If you haven’t already prioritized creating positive candidate experiences, now is the time to do so. Start with your hiring process and eliminate unnecessary stopgaps. Then, consider this advice for creating better candidate experiences.  

Screening Candidates and its impact on recruiter productivity

Screening takes time, there’s really no way around it. Well, there is a way to make it much more efficient and effective, but we’ll get to that :)

Applications come in after hours

It’s impossible for recruiters to be available 24/7, and yet that’s what it seems to take nowadays to land top talent. Candidates are looking for jobs and applying 24/7/365, and they want answers to their questions or next steps, like, now. If your recruiters can’t deliver on those demands, another company will. Talent is likely to move on, at worst. At best, they stick it out with you (for now), but they’re far less engaged than when they initially visited your website or job board.

Recruiters could technically check emails at all hours, but that’s not sustainable or healthy for anyone. It is a one-way path to burnout, and recruiters are already overburdened. More work isn’t the answer. As this guide has already shown, smarter work is where the magic is happening.

The solution to needing 24/7 recruiters comes again from technology. Today’s best-recruiting chatbots act like 24/7 recruiters, answering questions, leveraging Natural Language Processing to deliver seamless conversations and in the case of Sense Chatbot, “touching” various technologies (including your ATS) to deliver one seamless experience to talent (while some really sophisticated stuff happens behind the scenes).  Chatbots can answer questions, suggest job openings, prescreen (see below), and even schedule interviews on your recruiter calendars.

Your mind is probably whirring right now, adding up all the time saved here. All of this can and does (!) happen automatically, and when talent wants to have these conversations. Three o’clock in the morning on a Thursday? No problem. Saturday afternoon? You got it. Chatbots are always on, and they deliver candidates the information and experience they want, when they want it.

Unqualified candidates

I already touched upon the importance of job postings for attracting strong-fit candidates. This is an essential component of weeding out poor-fit candidates (or better yet, directing them toward jobs where they are a fit, and not just “discarding” them because they aren’t quite right for one particular job). The time consumed by unqualified candidates is a huge time-suck to recruiter productivity.

I just touched upon the power of chatbots to enable 24/7 recruiting and in addition to answering questions and suggesting jobs, chatbots (like Sense AI Chatbot) can also prescreen candidates and redirect candidates who are a poor fit for specific openings.

This can open up significant time in back-and-forth scheduling and actually getting on the phone to prescreen candidates. For some recruiting teams, this functionality alone can put 20 to 30 hours (or more) a week back on the books. Exciting, isn’t it?

Candidate communication and its impact on recruiter productivity

Literal communication with candidates takes a lot of time. Large corporations and staffing firms in particular could be communicating with thousands of candidates on a daily basis. But regardless of the actual number, suffice it to say that it’s a lot, relative to the size of your recruiting team (and the amount of work on your recruiters’ plates). There could be anywhere from five to a dozen (or more) candidate communications for a single job application. Multiply that by a thousand and spread those over the course of a month…adds up quickly, doesn’t it? Here are some of the biggest time-wasters when it comes to candidate communication:

1:1 Follow Ups

Those individual follow ups are necessary and important, but they are rough in that they take a lot of time. It’s a numbers game, and it’s one that can feel impossible to win. I touched upon the importance of candidate experience above, and those 1:1 communications play a big part in positive candidate experiences. Skip one or more messages and candidates are unhappy (which can lead to negative reviews, negative word of mouth, and candidates heading elsewhere). Send every message individually to every candidate and you leave little time for anything else.

How can you deliver and make everyone happy? Technology is key here. But not just any technology – technology that empowers you to create better experiences. Automation through a platform like Sense Engage can help you deliver personalized messages to candidates. Automated texts with interview reminders or directions to the interview, for example. Automating just those repeatable messages in a Candidate Journey can save hundreds of hours every month. And there are seemingly endless opportunities to automate these messages while delivering personalized messages. The best part? With Sense technology, recruiters can easily step in with real 1:1 messages when candidates reply to automated texts or emails. Your recruiters don’t miss a beat, jump in where needed, and save valuable time by automating 1:1 communications wherever possible.  

Career suggestions and advice

Sense CEO Anil Dharni wrote recently in a piece for Forbes about the evolving demands of talent. Candidates today don’t just want recruiters to “woo” them for jobs, they want recruiters to offer career guidance, matching them with the best roles for them in your organization (or with your clients).

An awful lot of manual (and time-consuming) work goes into doing this, and it’s not very scalable. But with the right recruitment technology, it can save time while being extremely scalable. I touched upon job matching above. Think about when candidates apply to a job. Right now, you may have a generic, automated message sent out from your ATS after candidates apply. That’s fine. But, imagine if that email can instead recommend specific, additional jobs at your company that are a good fit for that candidate. This creates a better experience for talent while also potentially filling more roles, faster (and automatically!).

It would be impossible for recruiters to manually make these suggestions and send them to everyone who applies, but with the right technology, it can all happen automatically, saving your recruiters time while decreasing time to hire and creating better candidate experiences.

Some thoughts on technology and how it increases recruiter productivity

I want to caution you about the notion of technology as some sort of recruiter productivity panacea. It’s not that simple.

Choosing the right technology is much more important than the idea of adding “any” technology. So while technology can solve many of these problems and make recruiting teams extremely productive (and successful), putting the right effort into vetting potential technology partners is essential.

In particular, point tech solutions can actually compound issues, rather than simplify them. One vendor for texting, one for automation, etcetera, means more logins to track, more customer service requests to send, and these point solutions don’t talk to each other, something that’s critical to create better experiences for recruiters AND talent. Most of the time, these one-off solutions also don’t integrate with your ATS, so they’re all working independently, rather than together. This can add to recruiter stress, rather than alleviate it.

Powerful talent engagement platforms help to increase efficiency across the candidate lifecycle while also delivering better results for recruiting teams. But not all talent engagement platforms are created equally. Here at Sense, for example, our platform has been carefully built (and continues to innovate and expand) with the end user in mind. We integrate with top ATSs, and our technology delivers powerful, user-friendly experiences – and game-changing results.

Looking for a deeper dive on talent engagement and creating better experiences (I promise it won’t make your recruiters less productive!)? Check out our eBook: The Definitive Guide to Talent Engagement. It’s chock full of great advice and suggestions to help you start creating better experiences, now.

Want to learn more about how the Sense Talent Engagement Platform can help your recruiters be more productive? Schedule a demo with our team to see Sense technology in action.

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