· 9 min read

How Recruiters Can Stand Out In Times Of Uncertainty

Recruitment can be a challenging field, especially during times of uncertainty. In order to stand out, we'll show you how to stay ahead of the competition and find success in any market.

Daniel Jakaitis Image
Daniel Jakaitis
Recruitment can be a challenging field, especially during times of uncertainty. In order to stand out, we'll show you how to stay ahead of the competition and find success in any market.

The concern people are feeling about the economy is running high.

As layoff lists continue to grow, some might be wondering who is actually safe. And with many companies hiring needs slowing, are agency recruiters next on the chopping block? Not if you can show your value beyond just sourcing talent!

There is much more to what makes a great recruiter than contacting strangers and asking them if they want a new job. Recruiting is selling, negotiating, and closing on a new opportunity with a candidate, developing communities of professionals, and building a reputation for scaling and developing lasting teams.

With this slowdown, now is the time for recruiters to lean into their versatile skill set and showcase their value to the firm and its clients. While sourcing new relationships never stops, hiring slow downs offer a unique time for recruiters to level up their recruiting processes.

What you will find ahead outlines three core areas to provide value and grow during this offseason:

  1. 3 KPIs Every Recruiter Should Optimize
  2. The Recruiters Role in Refining Interview Processes
  3. Why Agency Recruiters Are Critical To Candidate Onboarding

3 KPIs Every Recruiter Should Optimize

Efficient recruitment operations can maximize an agency’s success. Understanding the cost and resources involved in making each hire will pinpoint inefficiencies. With placements slowing down, now is an opportune time to start looking at how to calculate and monitor these recruiting metrics.

To get you started, let’s highlight three key metrics that will have a tremendous impact on identifying friction within a top talent agency.

Time to Hire

What you will measure:

  • How long has the job been open?
  • Total time from initial outreach to new hire start date

Using these metrics to identify bottlenecks, pain points, or misaligned role requirements will reduce time to hire. If a position has been open for several months, one might wonder why it has been so difficult to find and hire a suitable candidate.

First, have your team create a definition of when to start the clock on your hiring process: Is it the day the job posting went live or the first cold outreach email was sent? Similarly, decide what defines an end to the hiring process: This could be when the offer letter is signed, or the first day on the job for the candidate.  Most applicant tracking system reports or talent CRMs will give you the tools to capture this data.

Tracking whether the job requirements are too niche or too broad, if there are too many interviews, or if there is too much time between each interview will further pinpoint which recruitment operations process needs to be addressed.

Maintaining a close watch on the duration of the activities within each hiring cycle can let you optimize this timeline further. If you can reduce time to hire, candidates will be more engaged, your team will be more productive, and clients will be happier.

Cost Per Placement

What you will measure:

  • Recruitment operations expenses incurred in proportion to the revenue generated from a single placement (e.g. What are the gross margins of your recruiting effort?)

If each placement costs more than it generates, you need to radically rethink your business. Tracking recruitment operations expenses on a per placement basis will give you the information necessary to optimize gross margins for your recruiting business.

To start, create a detailed breakdown of your operating expenses on a monthly basis. This will include any software services, data aggregators, office supplies, job board fees etc. Divide this monthly cost basis by the number of placements in a given month. Keep track of this each month or quarter to establish a baseline.

An important skill to perfect is to preemptively assess how complex a placement will be before starting the search (more on resource efficiency below). If a single placement takes several months – not uncommon for executive searches – you need to ensure generated revenue is commensurate with the cost.

Learning to gauge and document the changes to this metric will give you an idea of resources needed per placement. Find opportunities to shrink this cost by placing candidates more efficiently or reducing costs incurred per hire.

Resource Efficiency Ratios

What you will measure:

  • Open roles per recruiter ratio
  • Sourced candidates per week
  • Sourced-to-interview ratio

Keeping a balanced amount of roles available for each recruiter to work on ensures all requisitions are attended to and no recruiter’s workload becomes overbearing. Delegating along industry verticals and seniority can be a good starting point to keep work evenly spread across recruiters. However, simply calculating open requisitions on a recruiters desk will be insufficient to gauge their true workload.

Open roles per recruiter ratio should be quick to calculate based on assigned clients and open requisitions within your Talent CRM.

Similarly, monitoring the sourced candidates per week for each requisition keeps track of volume of work focused on each open requisition.

Finally, to get a grasp on how efficient the recruiters’ efforts are and establish work capacity, keep an eye on how many candidates are selected for next steps by the client. This tracking should be easy to implement using Projects in Chatkick’s Talent CRM or other similar platforms.

Resource efficiency ratios will give your team a data-driven guideline on how to effectively allocate time and resources. Using these ratios can also identify areas of improvement for specific recruiters and gaps in your recruiting processes.

The Recruiters Role in Refining Interview Processes

Candidates don’t like being strung along.

Interviewing is a muscle that requires constant training to stay strong. Because hiring spans several talent operations groups – from HR, to recruiting, to hiring managers – many organizations overlook exercising this muscle creating a cascading set of issues in the hiring process.

Luckily, as recruiters, we exercise our interviewing skills constantly. As experts in candidate screening, recruiters can provide clients with critical feedback to improve the interview process.

Since the recruiter is essentially the full-time cheerleader and candidate advocate, they should be the ones prepping and pushing the interviews along. Coordinating schedules between the client and candidate prevents long delays in decision making.

Following up post-interview to gather feedback and leaning on hiring teams to make decisions about next steps is more art than science. Establish a clear plan with your client about precise steps of the interview process. The plan should be built from the expectations of the open role – don’t let hiring managers convince you the new junior hire needs to meet with 35 different team members. Align with the hiring manager on core competencies using the job description as a guide and build your interview process from there.

The process should be well thought out and thorough enough to assess the appropriateness of the candidate but short enough to avoid exhausting the candidate.

Establish the interview panel, then delegate responsibilities for core competencies to specific panel members. Introducing the candidate to their peers, direct manager, and upper-level management should be sufficient for them to understand the hierarchy and how the team operates.

Here is an example interview process you might propose for a new senior software engineer:

  1. Initial Phone Screen: 30-minutes with recruiter
  2. Senior/Manager Level Technical Phone Conversation: 45-minutes
  3. Technical Assessment: 60-minutes with peer or hiring manager live coding session (engineers)
  4. Team Panel Interview: 60-minutes with full direct team
  5. Final Decision

With proper coordination, clear competency expectations, and standardized feedback processes, these interviews could be completed in less than 10 days.

When dealing with the candidate, be upfront about the length and complexity of the process. Never leave them guessing or in the dark. As soon as a candidate catches wind of disorganization, they might drop out of the process.

Placing yourself inside a candidate’s shoes can humanize the entire hiring process. Before getting on a call with a prospective candidate, re-read your outbound messages and confirm with the hiring team the plan.

A few final aspects to keep in mind:

  • Candidate assessments should not be used for unpaid labor.
  • Avoid repeatedly rescheduling or adding additional interview steps.
  • Try to avoid replacing interviewers at the last moment before an interview.
  • Keep high quality records – such as call recordings or transcripts – to help accelerate decision making steps.

Even with hiring slowing down, reviewing past placements and interviews will offer a training ground for you and your clients to reflect upon. Acting as a quarterback to move the process along will have hiring managers insist on working with you in the future.

Why Agency Recruiters Are Critical To Candidate Onboarding

The relationship to your candidate and clients should not end the moment an offer letter is signed.

Your client’s employee onboarding playbook will vary, but as a recruiter you can act as a concierge to the new employee to ensure the placement is a success.

Checking in with new employees is not only a great way to maintain a high candidate NPS but also an excellent way to gather feedback about the interview experience, new role, and the team.

By going above and beyond for the candidate, recruiters can stand out as a true talent partner.

Recruiters should aim to do the following to mitigate a bad candidate experience:

  1. Introduce the new hire to all relevant points of contact on the new team.
  2. Act as a sounding board for feedback on the new employers hiring and onboarding processes.
  3. Provide a written document outlining feedback and offering a plan of action to improve future placement initiatives with the client.
  4. Follow up with the candidate at the 30-60-90 day marks and beyond to ensure satisfaction.

By stepping up beyond the normal recruiter role, you will develop deeper connections with candidates and hiring managers. Over time this will provide opportunities for new business through strong referrals and future job changes.

Good candidate onboarding is only one piece of the puzzle recruiters can solve. Outlining and initiating common new hire processes will free up the hiring manager to focus on their already busy schedule. Providing busy hiring managers peace of mind leaves you top of mind as the recruiter of choice for future open roles.

Recruiters can be an invaluable resource for hiring managers by:

  • Creating 30, 60, and 90-day expectation guidelines for new employees
  • Provide industry standard playbooks on management strategies such as:
  • 1:1 focus points for new hires.
  • How to work in remote, hybrid, and in office environments with new hires.
  • How to balance self-directed and hands-on learning for a new hire.
  • Organizing internal knowledge bases to more easily share with new hires
  • Inviting new hires to topic-specific Slack channels (who doesn’t love the daily pup-dates!)
  • Create easily consumable documents of internal links, wikis, training etc.

Getting all team members on the same page allows the system to function seamlessly. Allowing your client to hire without headaches will be a key difference between the agency recruiters who make it in the current environment.

Sharpening your knives now will help you prepare for the battle later

Taking the time to deconstruct and monitor the changes in the talent acquisition process will prepare your business for operating within a changing labor market.

The best way to make this pivot is to start building out stronger recruitment operations by measuring and iterating on your processes. Becoming more consultative with your clients and less transactional will pay dividends well into the future.