Recruiting Harder vs. Recruiting Smarter

I had a boss who used to love coming in and giving the generic management direction of “we need to work smarter, not harder”! Thanks, Einstein. Now, are you willing to tell us what the heck that actually means!?

In the recruiting game today, I know recruiters are being told this. As average days to fill continue to rise because the job market has tightened, recruiters need to find new ways to find the best talent and find it fast. Organizational spend on attracting talent is up 7% year over year and that number will only rise as the demographics continue to shift in an aging workforce.

So, the big question will continue to be – how as a Recruiter – can you work smarter (and faster) rather than just harder!? Here are some tips to help you out:

  • Don’t allow hiring managers to think “passive” candidates are still a thing! Over half of your employees are actively looking for a new job, a bunch more are open to hearing what you have to say! Passive is the new active! Your hiring managers have to be open to talking to whomever it is you bring them who meets the needs of the organization. We no longer have room for weird hiring manager quirks of who they like or don’t like.
  • Pick low hanging fruit first, then get out your ladders to reach the apples up high. Sure finding the perfect candidate in some far off talent pool no one else discovered is really cool, but it’s also a huge resource suck! The key is to find those talent pools that are fruitful without having to spend a ton of resources finding them! Have a process to blast your known sources quickly, every time, before getting caught going down some sourcing rabbit hole.
  • Schedule focused time to source on one position. Studies show that one hour of focused time equals four hours of time spent trying to finish a task while you’re distracted. Most recruiters are “professional firefighters”! We run around all day putting out new fires. This is highly ineffective. Schedule some time to stay focused and turn off anything that disturbs that.
  • If it causes you pause, ask the question. One of the biggest time sucks recruiters deal with is trying to get answers to follow-up questions from hiring managers. The reason for most of these is that the recruiter didn’t ask the question to begin with, even when they saw it! Rule of thumb, if it doesn’t look right, it probably isn’t. Ask the question!
  • Spend money, to save money. I constantly hear from recruiting leaders they don’t have the budget to buy new technology to help their teams, yet their organizations are spending millions on agency fees, consultants, and contractors because they aren’t staffed properly. Have faith that your finance leader will understand the concept that you need to spend some money to save some money!

As recruiting leaders, we have to understand the differences between wanting our teams to work smarter vs. harder. For me, it was always I want both! I want you to work smarter and harder. As you can imagine, recruiters loved working for me! The reality is, as leaders, it is our job to help our recruiters work smarter, so they can stop working so hard and get burned out.

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Tim Sackett
Tim Sackett SPHR, is the ultimate Mama’s Boy!  After 15+ years of successfully leading HR and Talent Acquisition departments for Fortune 500s and smaller technical firms, Tim took over running the contingent staffing firm HRU Technical Resources in Lansing, MI. Serving as the Executive Vice President, Tim runs the company his mother started over 30 years ago, and don’t tell Mom, but he thinks he does a better job at it than she did!  Check out his blog at Because he's got A LOT to say, and FOT just isn't enough for him.


  1. David Hite says:

    This post was great and so true. Companies have to figure out the budgets for Talent Acquisition so they can fix the problem of hiring for the company. I always hear this, either they have no time or no budget. And I am talking about Billion Dollar companies. They have to spend money to make money and if the problem is that they cant get the new products needed built and need software developers to build them then they need to spend money to fix it.

    Or yesterday this recruiter kept telling me he was too busy to even talk or set up a conversation to demo a new product but the product will save his company thousands of dollars and everyone time. Not just him but the company would have the developer faster, the product would be built faster and he would have 1 less job to fill.

  2. Randy Samsel says:

    Thanks Tim, great article and spot-on with your observations. One possible exception is convincing C-Suiters to spend on people – especially regarding talent plans that go beyond this quarter. Still a challenge.

    Hopefully HR analytics, strategically minded CHRO’s, etc. will help convince executives that investing in people is as/more valuable than investing in other business assets!

  3. P.K. Maric says:

    The last point really hits home. You need good tools to be effective. Why recruit a bunch of unsuitable candidates who have no chance at the job? This is why the software industry uses coding tests to filter out unsuitable candidates:

    This way a large number of unfitting applicants get filtered out and only those worth interviewing remain. They can then be further screened and tested for their skills more thoroughly during the technical interview, but the most important thing is – these are actually the people worth interviewing.

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