Justin Thomason is the Regional Director of Recruiting at MATRIX and was recently named as one of the Staffing Industry’s “Top 40 Leaders under 40” by Staffing Industry Analysts. His expertise includes hiring, training, and leading world class recruiting organizations. With a focus on innovative delivery strategies, Justin's recruiting teams specialize in leveraging social media to develop lasting relationships with talented IT professionals.
Inside an Agile Recruiting Organization
I am blessed with a really sweet gig. My role entails setting and implementing our delivery plan for the western region, managing a fast-growing nationwide intern sourcing program, and serving as the product owner for Bullhorn from a sales & recruiting perspective. However, what I enjoy most right now, is being in the trenches of our Dallas branch operation. And here in the craziness of Dallas, among double digit IT job growth and huge corporate relocations, you will find an agile recruiting organization in its truest form.
First, some quick background. Our Dallas operation is large and very complex. We have 20 recruiters and five sourcers supporting 12 account managers. The team is mature, talented and very well respected by our competitors, customers and candidates. On any given day we are managing between 250-300 open IT jobs across 75-100 customers. We focus exclusively on IT within Dallas/Fort Worth and are very relationship-driven. Sure, we work the big boy VMS accounts, but the majority of our energy is spent on relationship-driven business.
The reason I detail our structure is to show that what works for us may not work for you. Agile recruiting in a smaller firm or in a corporate setting will not compare apples to apples. As a business leader, after doing the right thing, my number one responsibility is to maximize our margin opportunity. That means the way we prioritize may look very different than what you do. Finally, let me point out you need to have great recruiters. The best strategy around will not overcome weak or complacent recruiting. However, regardless of your current situation, I hope you can take a few things away that will help your recruiting team be more effective.
Our agile recruiting process starts with the backlog. For us, the backlog equals job orders- the positions our customers want to fill. Each day, twice a day, our leadership team grooms the backlog. This is the process of prioritizing our open jobs. It is a complex formula based upon past success, future opportunity, quality of relationships, feasibility, margin opportunity and on and on and on. For those of you who know our business, it is really just working closest to the money. How can we manage and guide a large, diverse team to efficiently work closest to the money today?
After the morning backlog grooming, we move into our daily stand-up. The scrum version of a hot job meeting, minus the account managers, that takes no more than 15 minutes of the recruiter’s time. Jobs, skillsets and focus are all assigned. We point out what has been accomplished in the previous sprint and what impediments are holding us back from locating the persona- the ideal candidate our customer wants to hire. Everyone walks out with a clear plan for the day and an understanding of what will define that day’s success. We then are in our sprint, which for us is defined as a one-day recruiting cycle on a job or skillset.
We track all of this on two large scrum boards visible for all to see. Jobs are constantly moving across the board, communicating their place in process and necessary next steps. The board gives you scary accurate insight into exactly what is happening in real time (Bullhorn does this in a very sexy way as well).
The afternoon backlog grooming session is not followed by a second stand-up. It is almost our version of a retrospective but not in the traditional sense of agile. Instead, this session is used by leadership to evaluate progress and drive next steps. Leadership analyzes the burndown charts, which means we are inspecting documented activity on assigned and focus job orders. The analysis will lead to next steps. Do we need more recruiting focus? Do we need feedback on submittals? Have we confirmed and prepped the interview? What is our next step on completed interview? And so on. Typically this session is more focused on driving account managers to complete needed next steps and drive activity into real revenue. This session also allows us to determine our velocity. In other words, we can anticipate our capacity to recruit and cover more jobs tomorrow. Subsequently, these details directly affect the formula we use to determine what will be the focus and what will be assigned in tomorrow’s stand-up.
And tomorrow, well, tomorrow we do it again. I may get some flack internally for sharing our “secret sauce”. But really, these are no secrets. They are the same fundamentals of the staffing industry that have worked for years and years, just executed under the agile methodology. And you have to have the right team to execute. That is why so many companies have tried to implement agile and failed. Don’t blame it on the methodology...