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Recruitment specialist Trent Cotton on what sprint recruiting is and how it can transform your process

“Sprint recruiting has enabled countless teams to shape and develop with their clients, the market, and prospective workers. They have learned to identify the issue rather than focus on a single solution.”

Trent Cotton
VP of talent and culture at Hatchworks
Trent Cotton on sprint recruiting

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Recruiting has evolved dramatically in the last sixteen years. When I first began, LinkedIn was unheard of and I had to contact banks directly to compile a roster of prospects for me to select from. 

It could not have been an easier process – but it wasn’t meant to be easy! 

In 2017, I faced a hard truth: what I wished for was an idyllic recruiting landscape, but instead found myself in the middle of a chaotic recruiting pandemonium.

The traditional recruiting process can feel like a never-ending loop of craziness. You fill the same job multiple times, search for candidates and conduct interviews again and again only to have them leave shortly after being hired. 

To uncover why this keeps occurring, I took an in-depth look into how recruitment is usually performed – discovering four main dysfunctions that contribute to the chaos.

I will discuss each dysfunction and explain how sprint recruiting’s four disciplines can help you streamline your hiring process.

How sprint recruiting can help you get rid of 4 major dysfunctions

1. Not aligned with our client’s needs

Our clients regularly expressed their frustration that recruiting was not meeting their needs. 

When I looked at the numbers, it seemed like a large quantity of positions had been filled in any given month – an impressive accomplishment for one individual! 

Our customers often reported that these roles did not fit with what they wanted from us. This explained why this issue remained unresolved; without careful attention to prioritization as well as communication between all sides, there was little progress being made.

I noticed we had no reliable way to regularly assess our process. 

Despite our best efforts to schedule regular meetings with clients, some would blithely brush us off or claim they had more urgent engagements. 

It wasn’t that we weren’t making attempts; it was just that the iterative process of success didn’t have their full agreement. 

Solution: The sprint creates efficiency

A sprint is a period of time where the scrum team collaborates to achieve an assigned amount of work, which stands as the cornerstone for agile practices. 

When your recruiting team executes these sprints effectively, you will witness fewer struggles and superior software development outcomes.

It’s important to schedule regular sprints in which teams and leaders come together to discuss successes that can be built on for future recruitment efforts. 

Whether a new sourcing tool or trick within your applicant tracking system has helped you reach more candidates, document these wins so they can be replicated and improved upon going forward!

Before sprint recruiting, our success was restricted. We proceeded with the usual strategies, expecting to see results on a continual basis.

Now, we have been able to structure this sharing for maximum growth every fortnight. 

This method has allowed us to expand in ways that were unimaginable before!

Learn more here: How the #1 principle in AGILE can enhance recruiting

2. Lack of prioritization

Supporting a business executive who had a different project each week, and at times even twice a week, was an arduous task. 

All of the sudden changes in direction caused tremendous stress for our team while draining our efficiency rate. 

We were continually forced to abandon all other jobs we had been working on due to his latest demand; as such, we not only lost credibility with candidates but also started taking out anger and frustration toward one another. 

As our objectives continuously shifted, we missed out on a great many opportunities to add exceptional people to the team. 

The definition of success seemed unachievable and fruitless as we followed our client down the path of lunacy each week – something just writing about induces anxiety!

Solution: The business determines the priority

In sprint recruiting, we keep the “business determines the priority” principle at our core. 

This is done by making clients manage a points fund for crucial roles and assign them point values that make sense to their needs. 

Consequently, this allows recruiters to be prioritized while also putting customer requirements in focus; thus determining success as a team! Learn more in this post: Applying the Point System of AGILE to Recruiting

3. Lack of focus

focus in sprint recruiting

As I sifted through the data during the early development stage of sprint recruiting, it became clear that we were spending too much time on a single role when plenty of suitable candidates had already been presented to managers for review. 

This chaos was hindering us from taking care of other urgent roles, thus creating an inevitable bottleneck.

Managers were burdened with over-analysis paralysis or the FOMO of potentially missing out on an ideal candidate who could have been lurking in our applicant pool. 

We kept piling more work onto ourselves and becoming increasingly inefficient by trying to build a car, but focusing on adding doors when we should have turned our attention to assembling the engine – something that was essential for success. 

Our process lacked clarity as to when enough candidates had been presented and it was time to move onto other roles.

When a client incessantly pesters you for additional candidates despite having an ideal one already in the pool, this can lead to severe team engagement issues. 

Solution: Work in progress (WIP) limits 

In sprint recruiting, WIP limits provide a reliable beat for the process. 

Once you hit your limit for one role, it’s time to move on to the next in priority. It’s almost like having music playing – each consistent and predictable beat drives the story forward until its completion. 

Similarly, WIP limits ensure that your team is able to evaluate every task quickly and efficiently while maintaining an organized hierarchy of tasks with designated priorities.

You should set limits to the number of candidates in each stage of the process. I typically focus on three:

  1. Recruiter Sourcing
  2. Hiring Manager Submitted
  3. Hiring Manager Interviewing

Let’s say you decide the max number of candidates in each lane is 5. 

The recruiters work on the role assigned the highest number of points and once they hit 5 candidates in submission, they stop working on the role and move on to the next one.

WIP limits are the key to your team’s success! They not only prevent team members from multitasking and taking on too many tasks simultaneously, but also help them allocate their capacity more efficiently, focus on critical processes, spot opportunities for improvement in performance levels, and even discover new ways to increase productivity

4. The feedback loop is broken

As I was reviewing the SLA, it became evident that we had a lopsided feedback service level agreement – clients could demand deadlines from our team without us having any of their own. 

This created an over-analysis paralysis and fear of missing out for our teams which led to wasted time.

Without proper or sufficient feedback, candidates were left in the dark and our qualified shortlisted applicants lost out on valuable opportunities. 

Was it because they lacked experience or didn’t fit into the organizational culture? We rarely received any tangible information except that “they weren’t right for this particular role”. This resulted in a missed chance to include these potentially great employees elsewhere within our organization.

After analyzing the data from our recruiting software, I discovered that one department could take up to seven business days just to determine if a submitted candidate was even eligible for an interview. 

Then after their initial interview, it took another two weeks before hiring managers would provide any feedback on the performance of said candidate – ultimately adding three entire weeks onto an already lengthy process in this competitive job market we now live in. 

As a result of these drawn-out processes and lack of timely communication with candidates who weren’t selected for roles, our company had developed an unfavorable reputation throughout the industry.

Solution: 48 hours to give feedback

To ensure efficiency, sprint recruiting has imposed a 48 hour feedback deadline for both the submission and interview phases. 

This was put in place to give recruiters the opportunity to achieve their WIPs promptly by working on key roles without delay. If managers wish to interview more candidates or review further applications, they must provide timely feedback on previous prospects first.

This can be a tricky part of the implementation but it is by far one of the quickest ways to increase recruiting efficiency. I’ve written a lot about this particular step of the process! Read them all: Hiring manager feedback.

Sprint recruiting has enabled countless teams to shape and develop with their clients, the market, and prospective workers. They have learned to identify the issue rather than focus on a single solution. 

Rather than investing months in creating a brand-new policy or protocol, they assess it over one or two sprints before coming up with productive outcomes. 

By utilizing this methodology, you’ll be able to establish your own success and will have the time to explore new initiatives. 

If you’re interested in finding out more about this approach, I highly encourage you to read our book! 

Author

Trent Cotton

Trent Cotton is the VP of Talent and Culture for Hatchworks, a high growth tech firm throughout LATAM and the US. His role is best defined as the fun part of HR, leading acquisition, retention, development, and growth. His passion is to lead, innovate and engage the Talent industry. He uses his blog at SprintRecruiting.com to reach thousands of readers and provides unique insights into a range of HR and business topics.

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