Tips for High-Volume Recruiters

Research, preparation and referrals go a long way

By Roy Maurer Sep 23, 2016
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High-volume recruiters are a breed apart. They're consistently under pressure to fill multiple positions per day, meet tight deadlines and satisfy metrics tied to bonuses.

"It can be very stressful—overwhelming at times," said Rebecca Queen, an Orange County, Calif.-based recruiter for Grainger, a supplier of maintenance products. "Everything is go, go, go."

Queen's placement goal in a previous role at a recruitment process outsourcing firm was five to seven candidates per day. "It's not just finding the candidates. It's interviewing them, prepping them and making sure they get moved through the process," she said.

The large candidate pools for mostly entry-level jobs that high-volume recruiters source from can offer nearly unlimited choice, but must be constantly managed through the talent pipeline due to high turnover and candidate fall-off rates.

"You'll have a lot of no-shows, canceled interviews and unprepared candidates," Queen said.

"You'll need to prepare your candidates more thoroughly, on things you may think are obvious, like dressing professionally, how to get to the interview, and basic research on the company and the job. I don't think I ever worked an eight-hour-day when I was doing high volume."

Big-picture solutions include implementing a talent acquisition model that focuses resources by splitting sourcing from recruiting, building talent communities with candidate relationship management tools and using video interviews to cull down huge applicant pools.

Here are some tips and tricks for high-volume recruiters to hit their goals, be effective and maintain their sanity.   

The Power of Research

To know where to find potential candidates, recruiters will have to be researchers first. High-volume recruiters will have to go beyond the typical large job boards and mine the state's unemployment database, military employment and industry-specific websites, colleges and universities, places of worship, and workforce development centers.

Collecting business intelligence about the industry and local area will pay off. "Start with a reasonable commuting radius around your office location and identify the resources available to you in terms of public transportation, higher education, competitors or companies with employees with transferrable skills, and any workforce development centers or talent incubators," said Rebecca Barnes-Hogg, SHRM-SCP, founder and CEO of YOLO Insights, a strategic staffing consultancy based in Myrtle Beach, S.C. "Then look at the impact of these things on your recruiting efforts."

You also have to know who you're looking for. Barnes-Hogg recommended using the marketing concept of buyer personas to create candidate personas that focus search and save time by identifying ideal candidates.

Knowing what's going on at key competitors can be instrumental for success. For example, Queen was able to recruit a lot of people for a call center after hearing about a particularly unpopular pay structure at another one.

Often, the best information can be gathered from the candidates themselves. "Candidates can provide you a lot of information on benefits, work-life balance and perks at the companies they work for," Queen said. "Get as much information from every contact. They have the inside information on the best places to source, where layoffs are happening and information about the local area you're recruiting in."

Plan, Plan, Plan

Queen advised prepping for each day the night before, including sourcing and e-mailing potential candidates and readying interview templates.

"Start with your candidate persona and use that intimate knowledge to organize your day to reach your candidates when they are available," Barnes-Hogg said. "When are they most likely to take a phone call or respond to an e-mail? Instead of focusing on what's most convenient for you, focus on what's best for your candidates. If you spend your time reaching out to them on their terms, you will be more efficient and effective."

Alexa Merschel, U.S. campus talent acquisition leader for consulting firm PwC, said that it's critical for recruiters to prioritize their day. "Your day will consist of blocking time for activities such as candidate communication, stakeholder or internal communication on candidate status, and school relationship networking e-mails and discussions. After an event on campus you can receive hundreds of follow-up e-mails. Finding a way to acknowledge and respond is critical."

Despite efforts to plan ahead, surprises will happen. It's important that high-volume recruiters be able to adjust accordingly and tackle the most critical items first, Merschel said.  

Referrals Are a Lifeline

Experts agree that referrals are vital for high-volume recruiters. "Referrals can make or break your search for high-demand talent," Barnes-Hogg said. "It's too easy to forget relationship building when you're under pressure to fill large numbers of positions quickly, but job boards and resume databases are no longer as effective as they once were and you need referrals to build a pool of candidates."

Queen recommends asking every contact for a referral. "Ask the referral for a referral," she said. "Make it part of your presentation. And let candidates know that there are dozens of open positions so they won't jeopardize their chance at a job if they give a referral."

The majority of PwC candidates hired from campuses are sourced through early identification programs, on-campus events, and faculty and career center connections, but referrals always help, Merschel said. "Candidates who have been referred by a current PwC employee stand out because they are being endorsed by someone who is already working at the firm and knows what it takes to be successful."

Track Your Metrics

Real-time reports that track hiring progress against goals are useful for high-volume recruiters and the companies they work for to stay on top of their hiring pipeline. Recruiters can track their calls and e-mails in the company's applicant tracking system or on an Excel spreadsheet. "Set a daily goal for yourself," Queen said. "Anywhere from 60-80 calls is a goal to shoot for."

Jerome Ternynck, the founder and CEO of SmartRecruiters, a talent acquisition platform based in San Francisco, provided the following tips for tracking bigger-picture, high-volume sourcing and recruiting metrics:

  • Track quality-of-source and cost-per-hire to narrow recruitment advertising efforts and save money. "In high-volume recruiting, the myth is that distributing your recruitment budget to multiple channels will get you more candidates," Ternynck said. "The right approach, however, is tracking sourcing analytics that help determine where to focus your recruitment budget for procuring the highest return on investment in terms of both candidate volume and candidate quality."
  • Track time-to-hire and time-to-start metrics to emphasize speed. "Competition for talent is steep and high-volume recruiters have realized that if they don't hire faster than the competition, they are likely to lose candidates to the competition," Ternynck said. "Determine internally what your time-to-hire should be and track it across your company to ensure you meet it."
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