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Recruitment is a juggling act, especially within an agency. Sometimes, you can feel like the candidates, clients and processes you’re juggling are all in place, floating above you and within easy reach. But other times, those juggling balls come tumbling down and you have to scramble to grab them all before they roll away to the feet of your competitors. Metaphors aside, keeping track of the many aspects of the recruitment process is very tricky, and you need to work out the best way to stay on top of things.
Lizzi Hart of the Graduate Recruitment Bureau offers a selection of ways to stay organised as a recruiter, based on her colleagues’ experience:
Write Weekly and Daily To-do Lists
It’s a well-known fact that our brains can’t actively remember everything we need to do in our busy lives as recruiters; it’s this very reason why to-do lists are so important – and not just in this industry. Many to-do list tips advise you to split tasks into more manageable chunks, as this allows you to visualise the task completion a little better. But why? The Zeigarnik Effect, or as psychologists put it, the fixation on unfinished tasks often means we forget completed ones; no wonder we feel unfulfilled when we get stuck on a tricky project. Researchers at Florida State University explored this effect, and found evidence to suggest that even if something can’t be completed, if you have a plan in place for how you’ll complete it, you’re less likely to feel stalled by the unfinished job, and be able to move on to other projects.
Rebecca Johnson writes a to-do list at the start of each day, and a weekly list on Monday morning. This means she isn’t too overloaded with tasks on a daily basis, but can refer to her weekly plan if she needs to. Sara Walker also jots down her weekly goals, combined with how she’ll achieve them, at the start of the week. This is complemented by a summary of her main and most urgent action points written on Friday, for Monday morning, allowing her to easily focus as soon as she returns to work. But why paper? Some just prefer writing to typing, but Rebecca makes the excellent point that: “IT systems can be temperamental, so make sure you keep your own records of things like BD company call lists, CV and interview tracking and your KPIs etc.”
Tim Meredith also has a running to-do list, and says that “If I have any task to do, it goes on the list, no matter how small. If it doesn’t go on the list and I start doing something else POOF! It’s gone.” Charlie McKenna agrees, and needs to have everything written down somewhere, because as he puts it: “mental notes are about as good as Poundland’s sticky notes… they don’t stick.”
Use Your Inbox as a To-Do List
Just hearing the words “inbox zero” can fill many people with joy, but for others, your inbox already acts as a list of things to deal with. Emma Hawksworth, and many others at GRB, instead uses her inbox as a running to-do list, either by flagging important emails, or marking them as unread.
Once you’re done with a task, most of our team have a delicate folder and sub-folder structure, within Outlook, to file away completed work. You can then easily navigate your folders to find any emails you need to refer back to at a later date.
You could also set up email “rules” which mean that any new messages that fit a certain criteria, i.e. comes from a specific client, are automatically moved to that client’s folder. This means your messages are pre-organised, and you can pick and choose which folders you want to tackle.
Book in calls
It goes without saying that using the phone, over email or InMail, is the best way to get a response within the recruitment industry – it’s much easier to ignore or delete a message. When it comes to booking in calls with prospective candidates or clients, many of our consultants use their Outlook calendar, and make appointments for these.
Within the calendar event, they detail the name, phone number and reason for the call so that when the time comes, everything is ready and in one place. Plus, the appointments all come with reminder prompts, just in case you lose track of time. If not for you, try post-it notes instead – just be careful not to lose them!
Start Colour Coding
Many consultants at GRB are fans of highlighters or colour coding, especially useful for differentiating between processes. Ali Johnstone-Mackie and Lucy Bates highlight all the candidates interviewing for a specific client in, say, orange, but “highlight half of their name if we have emailed, but not called them, then fully highlight once they have been emailed and called”. Danielle Buckland has a similar approach: “One tick for sending the interview confirmation, and two ticks for prepping the candidate.” She also has “post-it note lists of who I’ve cleared for a role, and then I tick the name and highlight it once I’ve sent the CV to the client.”
Meanwhile Gina Cluett uses colour coding within her Outlook inbox for separating out specific types of candidates, for example:
- Green = sent to resourcer
- Yellow = sent to admin
- Red = need to reject
- Orange = left them a message
Sara has a similar colour-coding system within Outlook, because “we’re often playing phone tag with candidates, along with juggling multiple plates simultaneously, so I can quickly glance at my inbox to see which interviews still need arranging/candidates need chasing up.”
Conversely, Dan Pidgeon uses a physical folder to separate clients and job specifications, but uses his paper diary and ad-hoc post-its for tracking specific candidates and interviews. Faith Roberts uses a spread sheet with colour-coded cells “to map my progress on large scale projects that involve lots of candidates.”
Set Yourself Mini Deadlines
“Set yourself mini deadlines for the day”, says Faith, such as “I’ll have this done by 11am, and this done before lunch.” But make sure these are achievable, rather than idealistic, because when you inevitably don’t meet your unrealistic goal, you’ll be left feeling rubbish about your abilities.
Hannah Dodds likes to start her working day by blocking out timeframes in which she will do specific tasks – she then ticks them as she goes along, but with allowances for things to go wrong. As she puts it: “in recruitment, you have to do a lot of fire-fighting, but I find this helps keep me on track”
08.00-09.00 Inbox Handle
12.00-13.30 Resource XX Role
14.00-16.00 Resource XX Role
16.30-18.00 Call back list
Rebecca’s system is similar: “A good thing to do is park time for certain tasks, like block out calling zones”, during which, she ignores her emails and tells her team to not disturb her. Plus, she’s already on the phone, so no distractions there either.
Do you have any other tips for staying organised as a recruiter? Let us know in the comments.