How Many Recruiters Do We Need?

Recently, we have been spending a lot of time on the question “how many recruiters do we need in our corporate staffing function”? When corporate staffing budgets were decimated over the last three years, and have (very) slowly moved back up again as the economy has trickled upwards, there has been a renewed dialogue on this age-old question. We have at least three separate clients that we are working with now who are trying to build a more scalable corporate staffing function, and they are trying to do this for the long-haul. It is no surprise that over the last several decades, corporate staffing functions have expanded and collapsed multiple times with the ebbs and flows of the economy. Now, after being stung so many times by the pain of building up highly performing teams and then having to tear them down over and over again, the idea of scalable staffing functions is really top-of-mind for corporate staffing leaders. And, the questions around how many resources do we need is the primary issue.

In the “good old days” (which could have been, 1999… or even 2006… you name the year), as hiring demand increased, so did the budgets and size of many corporate staffing functions. Generally, as requisition loads increased, we simply added new bodies to the function. Ten years ago, we may have gone out and recruited full-time regular recruiters. Five years ago, after being stung during the economic downturn after the dot-com bubble burst in first part of the last decade, staffing functions were more conservative and added more “variable” or flexible resources such as contract recruiters, temps, etc. They also embraced contingent resources including contingent staffing firms and RPO (Recruitment Process Outsourcing) to provide the resources needed. Since the major recession of 2008-2009, after mass layoffs and cuts to these functions… organizations are even more gun shy to add the resources they need. In our opinion, there is a real rise in highly thoughtful planning for the future resources of the function. We are seeing it now in our work with our clients. They are smart and its a great trend!

What is different now, than I have ever seen in the past… is a real embrace of using some form of workforce planning coupled with prioritization of jobs, volumes, and workload into something closer to scientific rather than a good solid guess. The nirvana of workforce planning has always been something organizations have aspired to, but have rarely achieved. But, in this new era of more thoughtful resource planning for staffing, I have seen more leveraging of workforce planning techniques than ever before. Organizations may not have all pieces and parts of workforce planning, but they are at least engaging in the dialogue between HR and business leaders about realistic workforce needs and capturing that data in a more manageable, shorter-term horizon. What that means is that they may not have all the fancy high-tech software that that takes all forms of input and then spits out great outputs with highly analytic models… but they are using thoughtful checklists and prescribed interviews with business leaders to gather authentic data on the future of their teams.

Once data is gathered with this more realistic approach, all of the jobs that have been hired, sometimes over several years can be prioritized using categories such as how easy/difficult the jobs have been to fill in the past, what volumes of these jobs have been filled in the past, and how important or valuable are these jobs to the organization as a whole. Taking this approach has helped to categorize the jobs to see what kinds of recruiters does the organization need. This can be a time-consuming, and difficult task, but it must be done to help plan for the future.

Once the prioritization has been done, a simple model can be built for each category of jobs (for example, one model for high volume/easy to fill jobs, another for low volume/hard to fill jobs, etc.) that deals with some assumptions:

  • How many annual requisitions do you expect to hire?
  • What is the average number of working days required to fill each requisition?
  • Average working days per year?
  • What is the target number of open requisitions per recruiter at any one time?

For example, for the category of jobs that are high volume/hard to fill… the calculation might look like this:

  • How many annual requisitions do you expect to hire = 350
  • What is the average number of working days required to fill each requisition= 60
  • Average working days per year= 260
  • What is the target number of open requisitions per recruiter at any one time= 25

I then can calculate that for this category of jobs, I will get 4.33 cycles per year (this is where I figure in the average number of working days required to fill a requisition and the number of working days in a year). By having 4.33 cycles in a year, I will need 3.2 recruiters, or 4 whole recruiters.

I then do this same calculation for each of the job prioritization categories I have identified, using the assumption variables I created for each category (each of which will be different). I will then know approximately how many recruiters (and what type of recruiters) I will need to staff my team. I can also use this model to help me with a large number of other decisions in identifying the resources needed… such as how many coordinators/admin resources will I need, what will be my costs to staff the organization, etc. By changing the assumption variables, I can really see what kind of model may work for my organization. Its not perfect, but a good guess… and it all starts with the prioritization of the jobs.

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Jeremy M. Eskenazi, SPHR, CMC

Jeremy Eskenazi, is the Managing Principal of Riviera Advisors, Inc.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Hello

    I am really interested in your answer to this question but I did have trouble following. I did see how you determined the number of cycles based on number of working days/number of days to fill position. However I don’t see how the total number of reqs or number of reqs per recruiter came into play.

    I’m sorry to ask but would you be able to further dumb it down for me?

    Thank you

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