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Recruiting Feast-Famine cycle

How to avoid the feast-famine problem in Full-Cycle Recruiting

by Jonathon Palmieri

Full-cycle recruiting is a very unique type of sales. Whether you are an internal corporate recruiter or an agency recruiter, you are responsible for a double-sided professional service “sale.” The two sides of this professional service relationship are the client or hiring manager side and the candidate side. When a recruiter works on both the hiring client side and the candidate sourcing side, they are referred to as a full-cycle recruiter. The feast-famine cycle in a recruiting firm, particularly for a full-cycle recruiter, manifests when there is an imbalance between sourcing candidates and marketing for new clients. Initially, if a recruiter dedicates excessive time to sourcing candidates, they may neglect client development, leading to a “famine” phase. In this phase, if they successfully fill (or lose) a recruiting requisition, the lack of ongoing client development efforts results in an empty pipeline for new client requisitions.

Consequently, to counteract this famine, the recruiter often shifts their focus and invests substantial time in marketing to attract new clients. While this can lead to a “feast” of new requisitions, the recruiter finds themselves unprepared with an inadequate candidate sourcing pipeline to fulfill these new demands. This cyclical pattern of alternating between abundance and scarcity in different aspects of the recruitment process highlights the critical need for balanced and consistent attention to both candidate sourcing and client development. This feast-famine cycle is one of the hardest things to deal with in agency recruiting. That difficulty is exacerbated when you are a solo recruiter and operator of a recruiting firm. 

Effective Full-Cycle Recruiting with the 60-40% Principle

To combat the feast-famine cycle, I advocate for the 60-40% principle. This approach dictates that when your recruitment desk is brimming with roles to fill, allocate approximately 60% of your time to sourcing candidates and the remaining 40% to marketing for new clients. Conversely, when the number of open requisitions decreases, this ratio is inverted. This strategy ensures a continuous balance between maintaining a healthy candidate pipeline and developing new business opportunities.

What are the benefits of the 60-40% principle in full-cycle recruiting?

In addition to minimizing the extremes of the feast-famine cycle, utilizing the 60-40% principle in full-cycle recruitment has other advantages, such as reducing time wasted on requisitions that aren’t likely to be filled, researching candidate sourcing companies and client competitors and having more market intel to discuss with candidates and clients. 

  1. Consistent Client and Candidate Engagement By adhering to the 60-40% principle, full-cycle recruiters can maintain consistent engagement with both candidates and clients. This ongoing interaction not only helps build stronger relationships but also helps both parties stay top-of-mind.
  2.  Reduction in Wasted Efforts: Allocating time wisely between sourcing and marketing minimizes the time spent on requisitions that are less likely to close. Given that most firms work on a contingent basis, this means not spending too many resources on a position that will not result in a successful placement and revenue. This efficient time management helps focus efforts on more fruitful opportunities, enhancing overall productivity.
  3.  Enhanced Market Intelligence: Spending dedicated time on marketing enables recruiters to maintain valuable, up-to-date insights into the industry, competitors, and potential candidate-sourcing companies. This knowledge not only aids in strategizing more effective sourcing and recruitment campaigns but also equips recruiters with market trends and data points that can be leveraged during candidate and client discussions.

Techniques to Implement a 40-60% Principle in Full-Cycle Recruitment.

There are two main ways a recruiter or recruitment firm can implement the 40-60% principle. Implementation of an effective full-cycle recruiting, candidate sourcing, and client marketing effort strongly depends on the style of leadership and the maturity of the recruiter metrics tracking and performance management. Generally, recruitment performance management falls into time and metrics tracking. 

Using 40-60% principle with Full-Cycle Recruitment Metrics

Recruiting firm leadership and recruiters utilizing metrics track candidate sourcing and client marketing pipeline conversion and volume metrics to create predictive analytics around their activity and recruiting metrics trends used to be leveraged only by larger recruiting firms and internal talent acquisition teams. However, we have been building more and more recruiting metric dashboards and reporting for smaller recruiting teams and solo recruiters. This trend is larger due to many recruiters utilizing ATS, CRM, and ERP systems that enable easier metric tracking. Additionally, these recruiting metrics are pivotal in recruiting profit-loss calculations, candidate sourcing, and client development ROI. Firms that leverage cost-per-hire, candidate sourcing, and time-to-fill metric calculations can use them to steer recruiting efforts into a more precise breakdown of client marketing efforts and candidate sourcing efforts. 

Implementing 60-40% principle Time Blocks in Full-Cycle Recruiting

Time blocking can be an effective alternative for those who find it challenging to adhere strictly to percentage-based time allocation. Setting aside specific blocks of time for candidate sourcing and client development activities can help maintain the necessary balance. This method ensures that both critical aspects of the recruitment process receive the attention they deserve without one overshadowing the other.

Summarizing How to avoid the feast-famine cycle as a recruiting firm

The feast-famine cycle in recruitment can be daunting, but with strategic planning and disciplined time management, it can be managed effectively. The 60-40% principle, supplemented by time blocking, offers a practical approach to maintaining a steady flow of candidate sourcing and client development activities. By implementing these strategies, recruiters can avoid the extremes of feast and famine, leading to a more stable and predictable recruitment process.

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