When I started my HR career, perhaps one of the most surprising things I found was just how much there was to juggle. Now, I came form an Executive Assistant role, supporting 3 SVPs and the President, so I was no stranger to juggling multiple tasks. But going from supporting four executives to supporting a client group of over 200 employees was like going from floating in a pool to navigating class 5 rapids with no training. No one teaches you about time management in HR school. For that matter, I think time management is a grossly underrated trait that school simply does not teach, but that’s a topic for another blog post.
The first three months in HR were the hardest months of my entire career. A big part of my job back then was recruitment, and in my rush to fill roles, I stretched myself too thin and got behind on my other work. It was enough to land me in hospital for a stress-related chronic condition!
When I returned to work three months later, I put some mechanisms in place to ensure I was never that overwhelmed again. Over the years, as I’ve progressed in my career, I’ve refined these to fit with my job. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that I urge all HR Business Partners to do some recruitment in their roles. And you’ve also read that recruitment takes anywhere from 20-25 hours of work over a 6-week period. So, how do you stay on top of it all? Read on for tips on how to juggle recruitment with your day job.
Put it in Your Calendar
I can’t stress this enough. This is tip #1 for hiring managers in my blog post on how hiring managers can fast-track recruitment. If it’s not in your calendar, it won’t get done. I know the weeks when I don’t block off time in my calendar for recruitment, I don’t move the needle on my open roles. If I go one week without making progress on my open roles, the weeks to follow get even crazier. Two weeks without progress, and I’ve got hiring managers beating down my door. Plus, I’ve learned the hard way that if I take too long to move through the recruitment steps, I lose candidates.
My suggestion is to block off recruitment time in your calendar indefinitely, not just for the 6-week recruitment period. I’ll explain why a little later in the blog.
But Don’t Block Off Too Much Time
This may sound counter-intuitive, but the title of this blog post is how to juggle recruitment with your day job. The key is to not neglect your day job in favour of recruitment. Remember earlier in the post I mentioned that I landed in hospital for stress? It was because I decided, in my zeal, that to close my roles quickly I had to book back-to-back in-person interviews. Now, you know my tactic on back-to-back 15-minute phone interviews, but in-person interviews are a whole other thing altogether. They take a lot out of you, and if you’re bringing people in, you want to show them your best side. It’s as much a sales game for you as it is for them. When you block off too much time, your other work will suffer and that doesn’t serve anyone.
My suggestion is to block an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon for in-person interviews. In other words, I don’t do more than 2 in-person interviews per day. If you use my 15-minute phone interview process, you won’t have too many in-person interviews anyway. And the ones you do have, you’ll want to give them your 100% and you won’t be able to do that if you’re constantly watching the time!
Develop a Solid Process
I believe in processes. I could devote an entire blog to processes. You can have the best people in the world, but without solid processes, your business will be mediocre at best. I believe that with a set process, you stay on track, you overcome procrastination (chronic procrastinator here!), you check things off your list, and you avoid distraction. James Clear, someone I’ve followed for years now and the author of the bestseller Atomic Habits, says that setting goals is great, but the key to achieving goals is refining your process to get there. Sure, you can tell your clients that they can expect to fill their role in 6 weeks and you can give them a timeline and weekly tasks, but if you don’t have a process to get those tasks completed, you will not achieve your goal. Or if you do, you’ll be winging it. Not the way to establish yourself in your career!
I’ve talked about a process for screening candidates in my 15-minute phone interview. I encourage you to establish a process for your full recruitment cycle from start to finish. Everyone does recruitment a little differently, but if you want some inspiration, post a comment below and I’ll send you my process.
Communication is Key
You can have the best process, but in order to stick to the process, you need to make it public. You need to communicate the process and timelines to your clients and any other stakeholders involved in recruitment. It’s all fine to have your own timelines and schedules, but if your hiring manager is going to be on vacation for 2 weeks, your process will only go so far.
I remember one time I was hiring for an urgent role. It was the end of June and we needed someone in place asap. Well, I did everything I was supposed to do, blocked off my calendar, put a timeline together, and had an airtight process to fill the role in 4 weeks. The problem? I didn’t share that plan with the hiring manager; I simply said we could fill the role in a month. I didn’t share the timeline with him because if I had, he would have seen that he wasn’t going to be there for 3 out of the 4 weeks because he would be hiking in Asia with no cell reception!
Share your timelines and key dates with your clients. It will save unnecessary delays down the road.
Do Recruitment When You’re Not Recruiting
When you’re managing recruitment for multiple roles, it’s relatively easy to stay on track. You have a vacancy and you work towards filling it. But you can reduce the time you spend on recruitment activities if you work on recruitment all the time. Remember earlier I asked you to block off time in your calendar indefinitely? When you don’t have a vacancy, use that time to source and network with candidates. I posted on why all HR Business Partners should do recruitment for their clients. The benefits of keeping your finger on the pulse of your client’s industry are innumerable.
To be fully transparent, I’m not great at this. When I don’t have vacancies, there are plenty of other things to fill up my time. But I have seen other HR Business Partners do this with much success. And when I work to get ahead of recruitment, I see the results ten-fold. When a vacancy does pop up, you will already have a couple of good candidates to start with. If we all recruited even when there was no vacancy, the time to fill a role drops and you have quality candidates that you have got to know over several months, and maybe years. The likelihood of that hire being a successful one shoots through the roof.
There are a lot of ways to juggle recruitment with your day job and be amazing at all of it. I’d love to hear what you do to stay on top of it all. Post a comment below and let us learn from you.