Dealing with scale in Talent Acquisition has two facets to it.  

The first is an increasing scale of the number of hires that the TA-team needs to deliver on. Going from 5 hires per month to 10, 30, 50 and beyond.  

The second is when you increase the pipeline: you deal with more people. For a long time, our only answer to the increase in scale was to hire more recruiters.  

I’m responsible for a Talent Acquisition-team consisting of four people. Monthly, we deal with over 6 000 unique candidates. Each day we average about 300 candidate interactions. With an extra 400 interaction stemming from our automated workflow. All in all, we do more than 200 hires a year without any external agencies. That’s my definition of dealing with scale. 

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it. If done right you will increase the volume and quality of your pipeline. You will see a significant positive effect on the candidate NPS. You will also lower the cost per hire. ​

1. Automated touchpoints 

Digitalise as much as possible, automate as much as rational. That’s an absolute must and should be what you are striving for. 

You will need to handle a sharp upturn in volume while not be constrained by how many hours you can work with each of your processes.  

Having a lot of your candidate interactions automated is a good way to set up your workflow to handle scale.  

A few quick easy things to automate are: 

  • The candidate application
  • Each move forward in the process 
  • After a set amount of time that the candidate has been idle in the process to avoid the black hole of no contact  
  • To give the candidate more information about the company such as culture, recent projects or similar content. This is also when a content plan comes in handy 

And since the touchpoints are automated – they can handle scale.  

2. Build good documentation standards 

A clear documentation standard with a high degree of discipline will increase your data density for every candidate in your process. Not only is this a fantastic source of qualitative data, but it’s also a time saver and a candidate pleaser.  

Having clear notes from earlier interviews at your fingertips is great. They can help keep the evaluation and scrutiny of the candidate consequent over the company and between teams.

Being able to look back on earlier contacts and reconnect about your process and your discussion builds a great report for future recruitment.

3. Definition of done for all processes to the shortest rational timeline 

My team works on a sprint length of one week. We haven’t adopted the agile framework in its entirety, because it does not fit our way of working. Rather we use the terminology from the Agile Manifesto and some of the concepts to fit our version of Talent Acquisition.

Each week we go through our backlog and we break down each task and gives it a definition of done. It’s scoped around the available hours and the following week we go through every task to decide if it’s done.  

This way of working gives momentum and gives a clear idea of what to focus on next. A reoccurring problem when you scale up is that the sheer amount of things that could be done instead leads into a lot of things not getting done. Breaking it down to the shortest rational timeline while stating what is the definition of done circumvents that problem. 

4. Your tech-stack is crucial – and it all stems from your ATS 

A sensible and well put together tech stack is crucial in dealing with scale. Being able to digitise the process to automate it and make asynchronous communication possible while maintaining a good-to-great overview of your data is an absolute must.  

A well organised ATS that can integrate with tests, reference checks, booking interviews, nurture your talent pool and more should be number 1 on any TA Managers agenda.  

Avoiding a fragmented tech-stack will save a lot of time and headache. To be able to scale up the Talent Acquisition workflow a well thought out digital roadmap is crucial.  

5. Optimise the workflow for value-added contacts 

When scaling up Talent Acquisition a common misstep is an ‘either-or’ mentality. If you automate, you automate the workflow completely. The guiding principle should rather be to optimise the workflow so that you can focus on the contacts that bring as much value as possible for both you, the candidate and the hiring manager.  

In some processes, it might be focusing on the early stages of a process, not seldom where the main inflow of candidates is passive candidates. In other processes, it could be taking a larger role in the interview phase where you could introduce interview training for the hiring managers while participating or the value-added might be involving TA during the final discussions before signing. No matter where the most value-added is in your workflow, the process needs to be optimised for it.  

6. Stringent taxonomy 

A fundamental part of maintaining control while scaling up depends on how well structured your data is. 

One of the benefits of scaling up is that you generate more data, but data on its own has no intrinsic value. Being able to leverage data and use it to gain better insights and realising Talent Acquisitions potential to add business-critical information to the management is dependant on a stringent taxonomy that aligns to your business needs. 

Base the taxonomy on how your business is organised and how it works rather than from a Talent Acquisition perspective to align your recruitment efforts with what’s important for your company or organisation. 

Try to create zero definitions that require updating to keep the data relevant. To exemplify, let’s look at seniority. It’s usually a part of the requirements of the role. Even if we today know the low correlation between seniority and job performance it’s still used. If we use years of seniority in our taxonomy we would need to update all uses of this definition since each passing year which would mean a +1 for that factor. If we instead use a definition like “year the person entered the workforce” it would always be constant. 

7. A clear idea of what early warnings look like in your workflow 

Being able to act before the fact is an enormous strength for any Talent Acquisition team. Even more so when the scale goes up and it might be hard to be immersed in every process all the time. Knowing what the red flags look like in your workflow saves time and money. 

All recruiters know that it takes one great candidate to fill a role. But having comprehensive knowledge about the abstract picture for conversion rates in your workflow can give you early indicators if you’re hitting the mark or not.  

And there’s a myriad of legitimate ideas why the candidate is not responding to your communication, but knowing when time is getting away from you and you should follow up is a great way of reducing the number of early exits as well as keeping time to hire in trim. But at scale, you need to be able to spot these and other early warnings and act on them. 

8. Asynchronous communication 

Using asynchronous communication frees you and your team from issues stemming from scalability. No matter if it’s interview platforms that do not require simultaneous availability from both parties, case interviews that can be conducted by only the candidate or the planning and executing of nurture campaigns (that can span months) it circumvents a lot of the bottlenecks usually attributed to scaling up.  

These are the eight most important findings for me when it comes to dealing with scale in the Talent Acquisition workflow. Each finding could be explored a length but hopefully, it gives you some insight into how you can manage a scale-up of the number of processes and candidates while saving money and time. 

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