What is lean recruiting and why do it?

The concept of lean recruiting originates from “lean manufacturing”, an inventory strategy that aims to reduce costs and waste during production. An example of this would be receiving raw materials only just as they are needed, which then reduces inventory costs. Lean manufacturing is best known in the context of Toyota, who use it as part of their “Just In Time” vehicle production process.

What is “waste” in recruitment terms?

Like manufacturing, recruitment is based on supply or demand, and the smoother the process is of supplying that demand, the better the end value for the user (in this case, the company that is hiring a new employee).

In a recruitment context, waste can be thought of as excess time spent in the recruitment process – whether it’s sourcing, screening, qualifying or interviewing potential candidates. Lean recruiting aims to reduce this wastage within an organisation (and specifically an HR department) during the process of hiring a new employee.

Why do it?

Traditionally, the recruitment model is fairly reactive. If a company needs a new position filled, they’ll typically define what they’re looking for, put it out to market and then follow the usual routes for filling it. Lean recruiting aims to use a more proactive approach, including anticipating when new employees will be needed before the time, and using more strategic and efficient methods to find them.  

How do you do it?  

Sourcing top talent efficiently can involve a number of strategies and techniques within an organisation.

Here are six ways to start:

1. Refine how you search for candidates. This could mean not using as many recruitment channels, cutting out the channels that aren’t producing quality candidates, or reducing the amount of data you’re analysing to narrow down the field.

2. Automate where possible. By first mapping the journey from identifying the need for a new hire to filling the position, you can then identify areas where you can automate repetitive tasks using tech like applicant tracking software. This then means you can shortlist candidates with less manpower.

3. Spend time doing the most productive things. Determine what adds the most value in the recruitment process and then put more resources there. This may include things like speaking to candidates or hiring managers directly, rather than reviewing resumes or searching job databases. You could also look at cutting down time between stages, such as the time between reviewing CVs and interviewing the candidate, or between first and second interviews.

4. Make use of employee networks. Highly qualified candidates can often be found informally using your existing employees’ personal and professional networks. In its Global Recruiting Trends report for 2017, LinkedIn found employee referrals to be one of the best sources of quality hires. Using an employee referral programme means everyone wins: the recruiter uses less resources, the job seekers are of a higher quality and the employee gets rewarded if the referral is successful.

5. Understand that recruiting goes in cycles. There are times when your company will have a lot of roles that need to be filled (for example if you win a large new client), and other times when things are much quieter. If you can examine trends to try and predict what your hiring needs will be in future, you’ll be able to allocate resources to the hiring process more efficiently.

6. Get other stakeholders involved. Success in the recruitment process depends heavily on how much communication there is with HR and the rest of the business in order to source employees that are the right fit for a particular role and department. Streamlining goals between HR and managers is a way of cutting down the time spent in finding the right employee for the job.

Lean recruiting is about being proactive – whether it’s recognising market trends for when you’ll need more hiring resources, being clear on the type of employee you’re looking for, or finding the most efficient internal hiring process for your organisation. Doing this means you’re able to cut down on time, resources and excess waste in the process of finding the ideal person for the position you’re looking to fill.

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