Lean Recruiting: It’s Easy If You Do It Smart

I was having a conversation about the ‘state of recruiting’ earlier this week with a friend who is now a school principal. He has completely lost control over his ability to manage his daily schedule. At least 30% of his time goes towards managing the district’s recruiting process. So he was asking me about innovative sourcing techniques for filling teaching jobs for his district.

I wanted to put down in writing what I described to him as Lean recruiting.

It has nothing to do with the idea of a small talent acquisition team making the most of a limited budget. It is certainly not bare-bones recruitment.

Lean recruiting has been adapted from the concept of lean manufacturing. Toyota developed its own production system (TPS) in the mid 1900s which focused on incrementally removing waste from the production process. Many say that the TPS is was led Toyota to dominate the car manufacturing market from the 1980s onwards.

There are 2 core principles to Lean manufacturing:

  • Focus first and foremost on what the customer considers valuable. Anything beyond the absolute minimum amount of resources needed to fulfil the company’s needs is waste (or muda in japanese).
  • Small and easy steps are the best way to improve. Forget “breakthrough” changes all at once which are often unstable and short-lived… In order to solve big problems you have to think small; continuously taking baby steps towards improvement at a very high and steady frequency. By focusing on continuous “incremental” improvement, you guarantee small successes you can build on and gain momentum.

At Movinhand we are seeing more and more recruiters shift towards lean recruiting, knowingly or not. They are removing waste from their recruiting process in 3 major ways:

1. They are realising that CV databases are a waste of time.

Extra inventory is considered the most harmful of all the 7 wastes in a Toyota plant because it conceals all the other kinds of waste. Similarly, engaging with CV databases gives recruiters the illusion of work whereas they are mainly engaging in ‘busyness’. Remember the last time you were last searching for your last job and uploaded your CV to a database? When you got your new job, did you go back and take down your CV? Of course you didn’t — and neither did 99% of job seekers like you. So when going through such databases, 90% of CVs you are looking at are outdated or, even worse, most listed candidates are no longer looking for a job.

More and more, today’s savvy recruiter is resorting to a kind of Just-In-Time (or Kanban) recruiting. She is building follower audiences on social networks through her own thought leadership. Having these candidates always within reach, she can access an engaged, active talent pool exactly when a vacancy opens up. This saves a boatload of time as she can be working on one position at a time in a mindful and fully focused manner.

2. They are fleeing job boards for a more focused kind of sourcing.

Job boards have become a new form of website traffic arbitrage.

Most job boards nowadays ‘trade’ traffic, sending candidates to each other to boost their numbers. Very little value is really created as most job boards barely achieve a match rate above 1%. Recruiters who post their jobs betting on the job board’s traffic end up receiving hundreds of CVs, of which the qualified ones amount to only about 2.5%.

The modern recruiter is laser-focused on improving her talent targeting (just like Kaizen experts do via Kobetsu Kaizen workshops). She is constantly trying new targeting methods, measuring results and refining her process. She is mainly using social recruiting and other kinds of ad technology to serve their job ads only to relevant candidates across all websites and mobile devices. Through hyper-targeted advertising, she ends up hiring 1 out of every 10 applicants she receives.

3. They interview in real time

If your hiring process is still layered on CV databases and job boards, it is understandable that your job has less to do with targeting the right talent and more to do with high volume screening. If you feel you have a mountain of CVs at the tip of your fingers, your job is to comb through them as fast as possible to get to the few needles in your giant haystack. By contacting applicants months after their application (especially the qualified ones) the chances of them being still available are slim to none.

Today’s recruiter implements a kind of interview load levelling (like heijunka in manufacturing terms). She puts in place a fixed repeating schedule for her interviewing. For example, she allocates 2 set interviewing time slots on a weekly basis (let’s say Tuesday 10am-12pm and Thursday 3pm-6pm). Given that she is not using job boards and is hyper-targeting her candidates, she spends 20’ every morning screening a handful of applications. When a qualified applicant comes through her funnel, she schedules an interview immediately into one of these standard slots.

Originally published at www.huffingtonpost.com