Talent Acquisition

You Need to Start Hiring, You Also Need to Know What That Means

I remember the first outsourced recruiting engagement we took on. This was in 2010, our company had 12 people, and one of our top clients asked us if we could put one of our recruiters on site to take over their recruiting efforts. As most small companies would, we said yes, didn’t ask enough questions, and dove in headfirst.

Hard work and pride meant we weren’t going to fail. Nearly everyone in our company got involved, and we helped a company that was notoriously terrible at hiring bring on 30 engineers in four months.  Their VC firm said they had to “ramp up their engineering team” to justify a Series C round – so the hiring was going to get even more intense over the next 9 to 12 months. We tried to explain to the company that they needed to greatly ramp up their investment in recruiting if they wanted to scale at the rate they intended in the following year. It fell on deaf ears until six months later when their new CEO hired an experienced head of HR. She quickly built a team of six to accomplish what the previous regime thought a single recruiter could handle.

Nine years later, I still see plenty of companies underestimate what it takes to build a world-class recruiting function. No one wants to pay search fees for all of their hires – I totally get it. But you better understand there’s no free lunch when it comes to Recruiting.

If you think I’m wrong, guess how many people show up when you run a LinkedIn search on recruiters at Amazon, Facebook, Google, or any other major tech company.

  • Amazon – 1701 people

  • Facebook – 997

  • Google – 1400

That’s your competition.  They have more people in talent acquisition than most companies have employees.  And they are sending InMails, emails, or texts to your executives, engineers, and salespeople as we speak. Heck, they are probably recruiting your recruiter(s). But this isn’t supposed to be a horror story. It is something to keep in mind, however, as you try and build the next Amazon, Facebook, or Google.

Winning the Numbers Game

Recruiting has been and always will be a numbers game. Look at it like this, if you’re trying to bring on 30 new clients in a year, you’ll need to develop a sales plan to do so. And this will most likely involve a sales funnel because, more likely than not, 30 companies aren’t guaranteed to jump in the boat. Smart companies approach recruiting in the same manner: They think backward. If you want to hire 30 people, how many interviews are your hiring managers going to have to conduct? How many phone interviews need to happen? How many resumes do your recruiters need to review?

If you aren’t tracking these things, do so. We’ve seen the numbers vary, but on average, for every hire, it takes three to five interviews with a hiring manager. For every interview, it takes twice as many people to do an initial screening. Your recruiter most likely needs to review three to five resumes or profiles for every person that results in an initial screen. That can mean reviewing at least 50 profiles, calling/messaging them, and attempting to schedule time for an initial screen. If you are lucky enough to get interested from half of those people, that can result in 20 to 30 plus phone screens (30 minutes each). That will likely result in 10ish profiles to share with a hiring manager for an initial screen, hoping that three to five make it through the other end of the funnel for onsite interviews. If you do everything right, all of that should get you one hire. Now double or triple it if you want to make two to three hires per month.

If there is a steady flow of resumes, that is all possible, but what if there isn’t?

Understanding what a Recruiter actually does

Amazon doesn’t have 1700 people individually doing those steps outlined above. They have a very well-structured team, which is undoubtedly more complex than necessary for most companies. But the biggest takeaway is that companies break out all aspects of recruiting into individual functions and have people specialize. Let’s define a few of the roles involved in most TA departments:

  • Full-cycle Recruiting – Someone that handles hiring from the start (identifying candidates) to finish (delivering offers and getting people on-boarded) and everything in between. Recruiting is a lot of jobs in one – and a full-cycle recruiter can get bogged down fast – which is why companies hire for the next two roles…

  • Sourcing – Someone needs to find those resumes proactively. That takes a lot of time. And tools (which cost money), not to mention the experience of differentiating good from not-so-good. There is only so much time in the day, and sourcing can often take the majority of it, especially with 3.7% unemployment. Top candidates rarely apply for jobs, so someone needs to go out and find them.

  • Interview Scheduling / Coordination – Coordinating interviews is tedious. It is a tremendous time suck, and it pulls recruiters away from what they need to be doing (vetting candidates and getting them hired). You may want to hire a coordinator to relieve some of that burden from them.

  • Strategy / Leadership – If you are lucky to find a great full-cycle recruiter (someone who can handle all three of the roles above at a reasonably high volume), congratulations.  But that leaves little time to strategize for the future or manage others proactively. In a perfect world, your first recruiter can grow with the company and move into a leadership role. If he or she can’t, you’ll need someone to design your recruiting strategy and manage the team.

Remember, there are no silver bullets or Swiss army knives when it comes to hiring. Recruiting is hard. It has become an arms race. If you aren’t investing significant resources in your efforts to bring in top talent, your company is going to struggle to keep up.

Develop a plan. Hire great people to execute the plan. And bring in partners to fill in the gaps.

We’ll cover some specific scenarios in part 2, and how we encourage companies actually to scale their Talent Acquisition teams.

About the author:Matt Massucci is the founder and managing partner of Hirewell, a Chicago-based Recruiting and Talent Acquisition Solutions Provider.

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