Doubling sourcing recruiters’productivity

In the short time span from January 2015 til August 2015 we have more than doubled our recruiters’ productivity. From 0.8 placement/week to 1.8. Per person.

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The two most important factors in this remarkable change were

  • SOURCING LABS (introduced actually in 2014)


I am sure many of you will agree with me when I say sourcing is not a lone activity. Especially, because as Glen Cathey brilliantly revealed the most powerful tool in sourcing in his blog post – aka THE BRAIN – sourcing does come with major limitations. Let’s face it, we only know so much. And that is true for everyone. Some say, the most powerful people are the ones who are clear about their limitations. In knowledge too.

This logically leads to the need of borrowing others’ knowledge. So we came up with a format that was simple, practical and safe. Simple – so people get used to it easily. Practical – so it could offer them help on the spot. Safe – because we ask people to openly talk about “failing”.

The setup

One flipchart/white board in the middle of the room, loads of markers. We chose 3 days from the week, suited to how our workload was coming in. At a given time of the morning we gathered at the board: people looking for help, people wanting to offer help and a moderator.

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  1. The person “in need” briefs the team of the role they are recruiting for
  2. Same person puts up the strings, channels they used so far
  3. ASK QUESTIONS/FIRE AWAY (in a structured manner – this is the part you need the moderator for)

Main gains of the structure:

  • Casual. People are more likely to reveal the need for help if the format they can do it is seamlessly integrated in everyday work. There is no special meeting room,  no sitting around a table with one person “explaining”. It’s a group of their colleagues standing in a small circle chatting.
  • Available when needed: with cutting the time and repeating the labs more often, the setup is able to facilitate immediate improvement in the recruiters’ work. They get answers on the spot for problems they have at the moment.
  • No preaching. No “pressure” to help. It is about practical solutions.
  • Openness. There is no “bad” answer – we are there to brainstorm, to evaluate ideas, share experience.
  • Learning. It’s not just the person posting the question who gains from taking part: everyone there will take something new on board: a synonym, a tool, a hack (I really hate this word, but I don’t have anything better for it as I think trick is reserved for bad magicians).

Main difficulties we had: 

  • Drawing regularly our best performers in. After a while, it becomes a question of “why do I have to help every week”. Given, not everyone thinks this way, but the more successful you are, the more you tend to focus on your work to gain more success in return. Especially in recruitment, where placements are like a drug. (You know it’s true.)
  • Adapting the format to facilitate different needs. If you are taking it out of the context of JIT recruitment (just in time), then you will face the issue of running out of topics pretty quickly. So there you’ll have to revise the setup to ensure you get the most out of it



I am a big fan of failing. Fail fast, fail small, fail often and talk about it – so next time you can make a better decision; and most importantly: never fail at the exact same thing again.

I figured, the best way to bring candidate quality in the picture in our department was to gather a whole bunch of “failed” cases and discuss them in a 1 on 1 meeting with the recruiters. I randomly picked 10 CVs – 5 vacancies each per quarter, printed the job specs, checked where they fell out of the hiring process and asked the recruiters to bring their story. In some cases I did choose a role where one of them were hired – to be able to make a good comparison.


I was going through the CVs beforehand – only based on the jobspec’s info. During the meeting with the recruiter we looked not just at the written requirements in relation to experience, but also at “soft skills” and attributes.

Let me give you an example: the candidate is rejected for a permanent position by the client after a face to face interview with the note: no teamfit/no culture fit. In such a case, we’d look for:

  • duration spent in previous roles
  • language/words used and content of the CV
  • structure of the CV
  • reasons for leaving
  • behaviour during our screening

to see whether we could have identified clues beforehand. A lot of the times, recruiters only create a checklist of requirements and are way too trigger happy when discovering all keywords in a resume.

These conversations have been not just fun and educational for me, allowing me to gain insights into their thinking and decision making like nothing else could, but as it turned out, they also enjoyed it.

The ability to “play” partner in crime (as I am not their operational manager) created a safe environment where they knew they’d be heard. Too many times do we see recruiters being pushed into “just work more/search more/do it again/find a better CV” discussions as opposed to having constructive conversations about performance and delivery.

Once you have their trust, the feedback is also better received. 

Keeping track of their development from quarter to quarter, I was amazed to see that in only a few cases of roughly 20 employees did we have to talk about the same topics already covered previous quarter.

However, the biggest achievement from the quality checks was that it allowed the management team to steer more on point, with higher efficiency. Not to mention, incorporating the results into their yearly performance review made it easier to draw up personalized development targets.







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