“Recruitment operations” has become somewhat of a buzzword in talent acquisition circles, and if you’re a recruiter, you’ll likely feel its effects sooner rather than later. But this emerging human resources function is still being defined, and its purpose and benefits vary depending on who you talk to. What exactly is recruitment operations? Why is it so important? How can it help your recruiting team streamline processes and increase efficiency?

We’re breaking it down step-by-step, from a common definition for recruitment operations to which metrics you should be tracking.

What is Recruitment Operations?

Recruitment operations is a function that defines work processes, helps talent acquisition teams run more efficiently, and oversees logistics like interview scheduling, offer processing, and onboarding. By applying business operations methodologies to each step in the hiring process, human resources teams can identify opportunities for improvement, use company resources more efficiently, better prove their value to leadership and build stronger business cases for new recruiting solutions.

“Talent acquisition is quite literally our business. Anytime we’re not operationally excellent — we forget to call a candidate back, we let somebody fall out — that’s money that’s gone.”
— Adam Godson, SVP of Global Technology Solutions, Cielo

Recruitment operations professionals can also help their companies prepare for the future of work by anticipating industry trends, combating global talent shortages and identifying how other external forces may affect the company.

Learn more about the basics of recruitment operations.

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Defining the Hiring Process

A key function of recruitment operations is defining each step in the hiring process to identify where there might be inefficiencies or areas of improvement. 

Do you know how long each phase of your recruitment funnel takes?

Source: Adam Godson, The ROI of Recruiting Ops (#STRIVE19)

There are so many steps to filling an open role that the answer can be different depending on the company. Take the time to break down each phase in your hiring process: from posting a new job to screening applicants to scheduling interviews, making a final decision and extending an offer. There are plenty of opportunities to speed up the process if you can identify where your time-to-hire is slowing down.

Here’s a recruitment process checklist to get you started:

The Start-to-Finish Recruitment Process Checklist

  1. Put a hiring plan in place
  2. Identify your main sourcing channels
  3. Create and publish your job posting
  4. Make it easy to apply
  5. Promote the open position
  6. Screen candidates and create your shortlist
  7. Prepare for the interview
  8. Schedule & conduct interviews
  9. Assess candidates
  10. Communicate with candidates post-interview
  11. Make an offer and close the deal
  12. Prepare pre-boarding materials
  13. Conduct new employee onboarding
  14. Analyze results

No matter how you define your organization’s hiring process, the focus should be on providing a more positive candidate experience. Application procedures must be smooth and painless. Screening must be seamless and swift. Interview scheduling, often the log jam of the hiring process, must be updated to reduce lag and bring in talent quickly, before the competition does. 

Are you following a step-by-step recruitment process checklist?

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Common Recruitment Operations Challenges

Today’s tight market conditions make recruitment operations challenging for all businesses, but pain points in the process can exacerbate the issue.

Interview scheduling is typically the biggest issue for recruitment operations. Manually scheduling interviews can be an endless loop of phone calls, texts and emails, juggling timetables and rescheduling. Not only is it a significant administrative burden for your recruiting team, but it can often give job seekers the impression that your organization is low-tech or disorganized, leading to candidate drop-off.

Slow or ineffective candidate screening is often another problem in the hiring process. Manual screening of applications or resumes is a time-consuming method that can be fraught with errors as well as conscious and unconscious bias. Technology has addressed this problem, with most companies using screening tech to assure the best quality candidates make it through. Failing to use available screening tools puts business behind the competition with regard to speed as well as building a diverse and inclusive workplace.

Candidate sourcing can also be a challenge for recruiting teams with high-volume hiring needs. Filling talent pipelines, attending recruiting events and encouraging employee referrals are all great ways to find talent, but they can take significant time and resources to execute. For many organizations, looking for candidates can often be one of the most lengthy steps in the process.

Overcome your operational hiring issues in 6 steps.

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The Impact of Interview Scheduling on Recruiting Operations

Scheduling candidates for interviews is by far the biggest drain on resources during the hiring process, and is often the culprit when it comes to a lengthy time-to-hire. Interview scheduling is too often a back-and-forth hassle of connecting, finding available times, scheduling and rescheduling that not only takes recruitment teams too much time, but puts them at risk of losing candidates who grow frustrated by a lengthy process.

Recruiters are spending ⅔ of their overall hiring time on the interview process.

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A majority of recruiters say interview scheduling takes them 30 minutes to 2 hours per candidate, which adds up quickly for companies who are hiring dozens or hundreds of candidates per year.

Source: Yello 2020 Interview Scheduling Survey

Finding ways to cut down on interview scheduling time makes for a smoother operations process for the whole recruitment team, as well as a more positive experience for candidates.

Technology is the answer. And it’s a growing trend: 51% of recruiters are already using interview scheduling software, with another 26% thinking about starting. What’s more, 59% of recruiters who use interview scheduling software say they’ve saved between 2 and 10 hours per week.

59% of recruiters who use interview scheduling software say they’ve saved between 2 and 10 hours per week.

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Interview scheduling software leverages AI to reduce the most frustrating part of the hiring process from an average of 60 minutes to 60 seconds. And interview scheduling emails can be automatically set to confirm times and locations and even send reminders.  

Optimizing the interview process is the #1 thing recruitment operations professionals can do to speed up time-to-hire.

How to Build a Recruitment Operations Team

Because recruitment operations is such a new function for most talent acquisition teams, there’s still no defined best practice for what a recruitment operations staff looks like.

Some companies are incorporating recruitment operations strategies into their existing efforts, asking recruiters to continue identifying, engaging, interviewing and hiring employees while increasing focus on data-driven decisions and incremental process improvements.
At the other end, many companies have introduced entirely new recruitment operations staff, with the sole purpose of creating and executing a strategy to improve hiring processes, fill roles more quickly, decrease costs and generally improve recruiting ROI.

While recruitment ops responsibilities fall along a large spectrum, here’s what you might expect your team to accomplish:

What does a recruitment operations team do?

Business operations

  • Support the head of recruiting by managing all operational aspects of recruiting and identify opportunities to drive the efficiency and effectiveness
  • Manage budget, spend and ROI
  • Train and hold accountable the recruiting organization, hiring managers and interviewers on operational changes to promote excellence
  • Build relationships and collaborate across HR, Finance, IT, Procurement, Legal, Operations, Engineering and more

Strategy development

  • Understand market conditions, trends, and business growth targets to develop a recruitment strategy
  • Lead, develop, grow, and manage a recruitment operations strategy to deliver an exceptional candidate experience
  • Manage change and related communications
  • Drive global recruiting strategies to scale the organization
  • Obtain business and candidate feedback on recruitment quality and identify improvement opportunities

Systems management

  • Oversee recruitment systems and tools, reporting and analytics, onboarding, employer branding, immigration, contingent workforce, employee referral, diversity recruiting, global expansion, contingent workforce and employer branding initiatives
  • Identify, build, maintain and manage relationships with recruiting vendors, agencies and third-party suppliers

Reporting and analytics

  • Identify, monitor and regularly report key metrics (including KPIs and ROI) for sourcing platforms, staffing partners and productivity tools
  • Use data to analyze and optimize recruitment processes
  • Identify new tools and technology to improve operations

Measuring and Maximizing Recruitment KPIs

Of any role on a talent acquisition team, the recruitment operations manager should be the most heavily focused on tracking metrics and return on investment. Recruitment operations professionals make data-driven decisions by measuring each step in the hiring process and finding opportunities for greater efficiency.

But which metrics are the most important to track? It all depends on your recruiting goals and objectives. Here are a few top recruiting operations KPIs to consider:

Common Recruitment Operations KPIs:

Goal

Save more money
Hire more quickly
Improve candidate engagement
Reduce turnover

Measure

  • Cost-per-hire
  • Recruitment events budget
  • Recruitment marketing budge
  • Time-to-hire
  • Time per step in the hiring process
  • Candidate points of contact
  • CRM responsiveness
  • Social media engagement
  • Candidate points of contact
  • CRM responsiveness
  • Social media engagement
  • Retention rate
  • Vacancy rate
  • Employee reviews

Learn more about improving your company’s recruiting KPIs.

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Benefits of Recruitment Operations Software

The steps in the recruitment process that aren’t candidate-centric are best managed by tech. Tech saves time: time recruitment professionals can leverage to build more meaningful relationships with potential new hires. Recruitment operations software can execute tasks faster, more efficiently and with less bias.

When it comes to screening talent, technology can target the best qualified applicants within seconds: a task that can take hours for recruitment operations professionals. For scheduling interviews, tech removes the time-consuming tasks of connecting and reconnecting with stakeholders to find a convenient time slot for all. Juggling schedules, confirming time slots, sending out reminders are all done through scheduling software that’s faster and more efficient.

What are the most common digital recruitment operations tools?

Screening

Few employers today use paper applications or receive printed resumes. Candidate sourcing tools make it easier to find and evaluate potential new hires without killing trees. Whether you use a third-party provider or have your own career site, the single most common tool for recruitment operations is the Applicant Tracking System (ATS). Not only can they screen for the best match, they can allow hiring managers, recruiters and other stakeholders to review candidates simultaneously, garnering consensus before the first interview is even scheduled.

Scheduling

Scheduling tools have improved one of the most frustrating parts of the hiring process —arranging interviews—from an hours-long process to a 60-second task. Whether used to schedule phone or complicated in-person interview days, these tools have cut down on downtime for recruiters, hiring managers and candidates.

Showcasing

Recruitment CRMs, or Candidate Relationship Management systems, help recruitment operations teams show off their brand to would-be hires. CRM software helps recruiters effectively communicate with job seekers throughout the hiring process while keeping a close eye on candidate experience. With email, text, and social media recruiting, CRM platforms keep candidates in the loop on their hiring status while getting a better understanding of an organization’s core values and mission.

 When HR professionals have these rote tasks removed from their work day through recruitment operations software, they’re able to leverage their time for the most important task: acquiring talent.

What is recruitment operations software?

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How to Manage a Recruiting Budget

When it comes to setting a recruiting budget, start with your strategy. What are your talent acquisition goals? Are you hoping to hire at campus recruitment events around the country? Or are you more interested in digital recruiting? Identifying your main objectives and tactics will help you narrow down where to spend your budget.

Next, make sure the right people are involved in the budgeting process. Hiring managers and human resources leadership should be consulted for their input. Ask about estimated headcount increases for next year, which departments are most interested in adding new hires, and what business objectives are most important to the executive team for the coming year. Seek as much information as possible before you build a budget to ensure your spend accurately reflects business needs.

Factor in the right metrics as well. Identifying and measuring recruitment operations KPIs is not only crucial to proving ROI, but it’s an important factor when building a budget. Think about how your recruiting process will affect your budget, and vice versa. Measure every step in the recruiting funnel and how your budget might account for the goals you’re aiming to achieve.

Lastly, know how much you have to spend. Before you start allocating your recruiting budget to specific initiatives, have a ballpark estimate of how much you have to spend overall.

Questions to ask before allocating your recruiting budget:

  • How big is your budget?
  • Which areas will require the most expenses?
  • How will you allocate resources month by month?
  • Which steps in the hiring process are most expensive?
  • How many recruiting events are you attending?
  • How long is your recruiting season?
  • How many new hires are you responsible for? 
  • How will you account for unexpected expenses?

The Future of Recruitment Operations

The future holds unlimited promise for recruitment operations professionals. New technology will boost HR’s role as an essential player in strategic business planning. Trends in recruitment operations will redefine the human resources function with technology at the forefront. Once hiring professionals are able to set aside repetitive tasks, they can focus more impactfully on talent acquisition and management. This shift will allow recruiters to concentrate their time, resources and effort on finding the right candidates for every position in a timely and cost-efficient manner and develop applicant pipelines for future need.

With automation comes efficiency in screening and scheduling, and technology brings the promise of more. Mobile and social media recruitment options are on the rise with upgrades in tech making it easier and faster to apply for vacancies. AI is leading the way in sourcing passive talent that may be right for the job and ripe for a change. Texting candidates – connecting through the tools they most leverage – is changing the way we relate and develop relationships.

Technology creates opportunities for data analysis, which was previously time-prohibitive. In mere moments, recruitment operations professionals can access information on every success and failure point in the process. Emerging AI tech may even predict candidate potential and success.

In addition, elimination of bias in the recruitment operations process will be key to building and developing diversity and inclusion initiatives that reach beyond traditional hiring pipelines. These can open enterprise companies to talent streams that add value and further the company’s brand in the consumer and applicant market.

Are you prepared for the future of recruiting operations?

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