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3 Tips for Effective Recruiting on a Limited Budget

Set expectations for hiring managers, candidates and crunch data for free

A woman is sitting in front of a laptop looking at it.

​Veronika Henderson wears many hats in her role as a corporate recruiter. She spends her days creating job descriptions, posting jobs, sourcing, interviewing, screening, negotiating, closing candidates and onboarding new hires. She also must find time to work on branding, overseeing vendor relationships and running analytics reports.

Henderson is the sole recruiter for the American College of Radiology, a national nonprofit health care association with about 500 employees based in Reston, Va.  

Setting expectations with stakeholders up front and finding and using free resources are a couple of the secrets to her success that she shared at a conference recently held by RecruitDC, a networking group for talent acquisition professionals in the Washington, D.C., area.

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Setting Expectations with Hiring Managers

When you're the lone recruiter for an organization, you've got to be strategic with your time, Henderson said. For example, she doesn't have the luxury of spending her morning sourcing leads like many of her colleagues at larger companies.

"Don't get me wrong, I love sourcing," she said. "It's very important, but when you are working by yourself, you have to come up with a different approach to time management. I strategize every single call and interaction that I have."

Henderson's method begins at the first intake meeting with hiring managers. "I cannot stress enough the importance of setting expectations from that very first conversation," she said. "When you start working with the hiring manager, have them whittle down their preferred candidate skills from 20 down to three or four that are absolutely essential. It's nice to have additional skills, but what are the must-haves?"

Salary expectations can be another sticking point.

For example, if you're asked to find a DevOps engineer with 10 years of experience for $90,000, but that salary isn't possible, speak up in your first conversation with the hiring manager, Henderson explained. "They may not know it's not possible. It's our job to communicate that to them."

You may also need to tell hiring managers that delays in the hiring process can mean losing great candidates. "The best candidates go off the market quickly," she said. "Even mediocre candidates are picked off quickly. It's our job to inform the hiring manager that it's a candidates' market, and it's not wise to bring them in for five or six different interview rounds. If they insist, it's your job to let them know that they may miss out on that candidate."

Engaging with Candidates

Since her time with candidates is limited, Henderson tries to keep interactions short, simple and upbeat. "With every single call I have with candidates, I am excited about the job," she said. "You need to sell it."

She also uses the time with candidates to gather crucial information, like their reasons for leaving their current or previous job, their expectations for the open job and their job search. Information about why they're leaving a job can be used in future interviews and to gauge whether they'll make a good fit, while expectations around things like salary and work/life balance have to be ironed out before the process moves along.

"Asking about a candidate's job search is to see whether there are any other final offers on the table we should be aware of," Henderson said. "That one piece of information is critical, to eliminate frustration if the candidate goes off the market in the middle of your process."  

Tracking Metrics

Henderson runs data reports monthly and annually using the organization's applicant tracking system (ATS), and augments those results with Google Analytics. "Everyone at recruiting conferences had been talking about data and analytics, but no one was telling me where to start," she said. She was reluctant to dive in and only recently started using Google's free resource, which analyzes website traffic.

"It has helped me tremendously when I'm choosing sources of hire and spreading recruitment budget," she said. Sometimes the data have been startling and led to a course correction in the organization's recruitment process.

Henderson studies the following metrics reported from her ATS:

  • Total applicants from each source versus those that were hired. "We want to see if we are getting quality applicants from the sources of hire we spend on," she said. "If you track this monthly and annually, it's eye-opening. When I started, we were spending a lot of money on certain sources that generated a lot of traffic but no hires."
  • Days-to-fill. Henderson tracks how many days it takes to fill an open position, not only to set expectations for hiring managers, but also to add context to her own productivity reports. She gave the example of having a certain role open for 368 days due to the hiring manager's traveling and putting the requisition on hold half a dozen times. This skewed her time-to-fill results, and she wanted to show her boss the reason behind it.

In addition, Henderson has gleaned a lot of insightful information from Google Analytics:

  • Total traffic. "I get the traffic to our careers page on a monthly basis and compare it with how many people actually applied," she said. "Does [the applicant drop-off] mean that my job ads suck? Is the careers page not attractive? Maybe the application is too long? Data over several months will show you the trends."
  • Source-of-candidate. Google breaks it down by organic search, social media sources, job boards and direct candidates who apply from your careers site.
  • Demographics. Google presents the demographics of your site visitors. Henderson found that the majority were Millennials. This led her to advise her bosses to do more with branding and to optimize the mobile-apply function. The data showed that over half of their applicants looked at the careers site on their phones. "But when I went to the page on my phone, I couldn't find the apply button," she said. "No one at the company was even aware of this. So we fixed it."


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