You’ve been there before. Whether you have 1 or 10 recruiters on your team, periodically there’s a glut of open positions that gets pushed your way.
Don’t freak out. The whole situation and your game plan should look something like this:
1--Your company was doing NO HIRING, THEN THEY OPENED UP 4-6 MONTHS’ WORTH OF POSITIONS. Could be an expansion or a new piece of business causing the need for immediate resources, or maybe Finance just opened up approvals after a four-month hold.
I feel you, friend.
So when that happens to you, what do you do? What’s the plan?
2--The normal TA/Recruiting Department goes into battle mode with the order to get a big chunk of the jobs filled each month. But remember that normal TA shops are designed to knock out a normal amount—not a peak amount—of positions every 60 days.
3--Let's say you're dealing with a five-month backlog (as a result of a sudden landslide of approvals), and your TA/Recruiting Team is running at 150% capacity—hero time in the recruiting function. How long does that mean it takes your TA/recruiting team, running hot, to work through a five-month backlog that pretty much got opened up all at one time? Well, it's not sixty days, because the company wouldn't let you hire more recruiters to get ready. At the end of the day, great/hero/epic TA/Recruiting performance works through this COVID-like backlog in three to four months, depending on staffing levels. It's just math related to resources they have vs. what the business threw at them. Nobody's to blame, but everyone's involved in the solution. Patience is required.
4--That means that a TA team dealing with a COVID-related backlog is operating at SUPERHERO levels if they are dispatching one-third of that backlog a month and doing very well at one-fourth of the backlog dispatched per month. That means it takes them a quarter or more simply to get back to normal, and that assumes new open positions monthly are at zero while you work through the backlog, which is never the case.
Notice I said the performance above is great/hero/epic performance on the part of your team.
That’s true. But it doesn’t mean it will also be viewed that way by your leadership team or the folks in the field who expect their positions to be filled immediately.
Since that backlog is going to take a bit to work through, I have some simple advice.
PLAY OFFENSE. GET THE TRUTHFUL NARRATIVE OUT THERE EARLY ON HOW LONG THE BACKLOG IS GOING TO TAKE TO WORK THROUGH, AND LET OTHERS HELP TROUBLESHOOT THE SOLUTION.
It’s easy to sit back and assume that people around you will think your recruiting function is doing hero work in the circumstances I just described.
They won’t know that unless you tell them. So tell them, and make the ask for additional resources while you’re there.
Here’s how to play offense and get your narrative out when you’ve just received approval to open up months’ worth of positions at one time:
- Do the math on what high-performing normal looks like on a monthly basis. Tell your leadership team and the hiring managers what your normal, high-performing TA department looks like related to positions filled monthly.
- Tell your Leaders how you’re squeezing even more productivity out of your existing TA/Recruiting team as a result of the SURGE. You’re in triage mode, so tell them the operational changes you’re making in TA/recruiting to get to 150% of your normal capacity with the SAME RESOURCES. #hero
- Project how long the current backlog will take to fill with your existing resources running at 150% of their normal output. Spreadsheets work well if your company loves spreadsheets. A short slide deck might be nice, as well, based on your culture.
- Present options to knock that backlog down quicker along with what it will cost. No surprise that we love the Project RPO option for you here (We’re an RPO company), but the big point is it’s a great time to give leaders options, cost, and make them accountable for the decision on the timeline.
You’re too good at what you do as an HR/Recruiting leader not to follow this advice.
You ask for more resources by reminding people you’re good at what you do in recruiting and that you’re rising to the challenge.
It’s not a recruiting shortfall, it’s a business decision on whether the company adds more talent/recruiting resources (RPO, contractors, etc.) based on the circumstances at hand.
Good luck! Follow my advice and the business will respect you slightly more than they did yesterday. And you won’t be used as an excuse for why someone didn’t make their numbers.