Recruiting calls for rhythm, routine and “business within a business” mindset

Source: Shortlist

Former New Zealand Post recruitment manager Rory Walker says overseeing the recruitment of hundreds of posties and mail sorters taught him the importance of rhythm and routine when supervising a team of recruiters. Walker worked in a range of senior roles at NZ Post and is now NZ sales director for HR software firm SilkRoad. Speaking at the RHUB conference in Auckland this week, Walker said his top tip for managing recruiters was giving them a rhythm to work by.

“At New Zealand Post, we had a team of people who were very fragmented, they were chasing around hiring managers, chasing around candidates, and they were trying to cram all of that into a fragmented week, so it was just really stressful for them.”

NZ Post was recruiting hundreds of the same types of roles over and over again, Walker says, and he realised that he could use that high-volume scenario to his advantage by breaking up each recruiter’s workload into structured parts.

“So maybe on Monday the recruiter is doing screening, on Tuesday they are doing telephone calls, on Wednesday they are doing interviews with the hiring manager, on Thursday they are doing reference checks, and on Friday they are making offers. “It sounds really simple, but when you’ve got someone who’s trying to do all of those things 10 times in one day, it’s much easier for them to do it all in one day, and get some rhythm in.”

Secondly, Walker says, companies that have a high-volume recruitment workload can also benefit from examining the patterns in their work, when they have a seasonal hiring peak or a major project.
Once they have established their business-as-usual rhythm and routine, they will have reliable data on how long it takes to get someone into a role. “Then you work backwards from your project completion dates and you know exactly when you’ve got to advertise, when you’re going to be screening, when you’re interviewing, and you let your managers know.  “Tell them they need to block out two hours or four hours… this week or next week, and it is going to keep happening. Start to get them into that culture of routine as well.”

Teach your consultants the “business within a business” method. Business coach and former recruiter Bernadette Logue told the conference her top recruitment tip is to encourage consultants to treat their desk or portfolio as if it were their own business.

Logue, who co-owns personal and business consultancy Pinch Me Living, says her first boss in recruitment instilled in her the idea of operating “a business within a business”. Consultants needs to think of their desk as “a microcosm that depends 100% on you to thrive”, and work in such a way that if the agency around them disappeared, their mini-business would continue to run smoothly.

For the recruiter, she says, that means being proactive, and developing an individual networking strategy and marketing strategy, beyond what the larger business does. “If this was your own business, these things would be top of mind because your livelihood would depend on it on a whole different level.”

Logue says in her recruitment career she built relationships with magazine journalists and provided commentary for articles on the contracting sector. “Where you’re an expert in your area of the market, what are you doing to get your name out there and build your brand?” Managers can also encourage recruiters to champion their own professional development, look for operational improvements, and nip problems in the bud themselves rather than wait for their team leader to step in, Logue says.

“If I’m running my desk like a business within a business, I want that thing humming, so I will do what I need to do to make sure [problems] get fixed. And if that means creating my own little fixes – that stay within the rules – then I’ll do that. “And when issues come up I’ll stamp them out and get on them early. When you know you’ve done something wrong, own up to it really quickly, because when you do that you get so much respect from the client.”