3 Keys to an Effective Recruitment Department Structure

By Linda Brenner | October 07, 2019

Org design can be a powerful tool for addressing efficiency and effectiveness problems, but it can’t work in isolation. When human resources and TA leaders look to reorganize the talent acquisition team, they’ve usually tried a few other things first. Perhaps it’s a new technology, a desire to decentralize the recruiting department, or the hiring of a new leader. While pulling the reorg lever might seem like a good way to drive rapid results, it simply can’t work if the building blocks aren’t in place. 

In a perfect world, a new organizational structure would follow the building of a business-based talent (and talent acquisition) strategy, identification of recruitment goals, and defining of detailed processes for different types of hiring (e.g., passive sourcing, high volume, college, etc.) This would identify what types of roles, capabilities, hand-offs, accountabilities, etc. are required within the TA function - as well as how many of each type of role. 

But what if you don’t have all the time and information you need before designing your new TA org? Here are three keys to making your org design deliver improved speed and quality of hiring:

1 - Determine Your Hiring Plan

Take a data-based approach to estimating your organization’s hiring needs over the next 12-24 months. 

A. Analyze two years of hiring, movement and retention data:

Gather the last two years of raw data related to company-wide hiring, internal movement and attrition. Complete a thorough analysis of this data by level, job type, function, geography, etc. This analysis is critical because it must be done with appreciation for talent, spotting relevant trends related to acquisition - for example, external IT hires leave at double the rate of other professional, external hires. In this example, a sweeping review of all externally hired professional roles wouldn’t catch that trend and therefore wouldn’t help the TA team identify a critical hiring implication.

This analysis will provide the groundwork or baseline needed for holding data-based meetings with key business leaders.

B. Gather available region / function / business unit-specific strategic plans, headcount / budget information, etc.

Obviously, budget or headcount plans for the upcoming year can sometimes become the talent acquisition plan. But typically this information is imperfect, incomplete or just a swag. To complement this, look at the strategic plans for the business in order to identify talent acquisition implications. For example, if investor documents indicate a strategy to increase the number of drugs in the pipeline of a pharmaceutical company, it’s a good bet that the hiring of research scientists will be a priority.

C. Meet with regional or functional business leaders to review past trends and future hiring assumptions:

Using this data, create business- or region-specific hiring forecasts and review it with each key leader. Ensure that the analysis breaks down the forecasts into each hiring type - for example, executive, professional, critical roles, new grad, high volume hiring, contingent, etc. Such variety in hiring requires different types of recruiting approaches, skills, technology, etc. This information should be reviewed and revised in partnership with key business and HR leaders. Once hiring plans have been estimated, quick quarterly reviews can allow for adjustment. Note that the objective here isn’t perfection - it’s to identify directionally accurate information with the understanding that this will be reviewed and revised against actual hiring data regularly.

2 - Document Your Recruitment Processes

Hiring can no longer work efficiently or effectively if organizations must rely on the instincts of company recruiters or the preferences of hiring managers to win top talent. Gone are the days of assuming that recruiters and hiring managers will work it out together, using their wits and experiences. Winning top talent, particularly those with scarce skills, in this hotly-competitive talent market demands a different and defined approach. Modern talent acquisition leaders ‘blueprint’ their hiring approaches in great detail in order to inform, invest and measure. 

To get this done, determine how many high level hiring processes your organization needs. This may include high volume hourly hiring, general professional, roles that require passive candidate sourcing, internal recruiting, and executive recruiting. Within which, the work that needs to be done is documenting step-by-step every activity across each of these hiring processes. The detail required includes roles and responsibilities, inputs and outputs to each step, which activities require compliance or policies or technology, how hand-offs and integrations will take place, etc. This will map out exactly how TA resources in the organization will be used and how many are needed given the forecast and the way by which work will be done.

3 - Build a Req Management Plan

Now, knowing your expected volume of hiring as well as the way by which work will be done, you can determine how many requisitions can be managed by your recruitment team. The process for high volume hourly hiring will likely be technology optimized and template-based, so recruiters for those roles can be more junior and can carry larger req loads. On the other end of the spectrum, those who work on the hardest-to-fill roles that demand the scarcest, most sought-after talent, will require a great deal of manual work (research, networking, outreach, pipelining, etc.) so their req loads should be similar to that of an executive recruiter’s. With that said, many other factors affect the number of requisitions recruiters can carry (e.g., employment brand, number of hiring managers supported, administrative help provided, etc.)

To help you determine the right amount of reqs your recruiters should be carrying based on the type of roles they’re assigned, download our Req Load Calculator tool. You can also use benchmarks based on research by Saratoga, SHRM, etc. but note that those are typically averages, and don’t take into account critical variables that can necessitate dramatic differentiation in req assignments.

What if you have more reqs than your recruiters can handle? One option - which we do not recommend - is to pile on the reqs to unsuspecting recruiters. This isn’t a good plan because the only outcome of too many reqs is poor quality. When recruiters are overloaded, they can’t spend time on intake / hiring planning meetings, sourcing passive candidates, even screening candidates thoroughly. They end up playing the role of administrators, passing paper from candidates to hiring managers, and adding little value. The best option is to build the business case, using the information above, to demonstrate the need to improve either talent acquisition process design, use of hiring technologies, or - if that has already been done - adding recruiter headcount. The latter is your last resort, because senior leaders are rarely willing to add headcount whenever requests to do so are made. A more sustainable and manageable approach to fluctuating hiring needs begins with improving the processes and leveraging the technology followed by adjusting the number of recruiting resources.

By following these steps, you’ll be more likely to see positive results from your talent acquisition org design changes. Want more information? Check out:

And reach out to talk about your company's talent acquisition needs! 

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