Question of the day: How many is too many? How many open Jobs can you effectively manage?

From today's RBC Daily:

How many is too many? How many open Jobs can you effectively manage?

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I have this discussion with my staff all the time.  We recently partnered with another company and all of a sudden have almost 70 open jobs on our board and it is overwhelming.  My staff claims 6/recruiter is manageable.  I wanted to hire more recruiters, but my staff is against it, saying it will take money away from them and the fact that we have not placed but 1 or 2 since the partnership.  Tough dilemma!  To grow or not to grow?!  Without growth, customer service can suffer, but adding staff without being able to close positions is not economically wise.

Some days, 1 is too many!

Really, it depends on tons of factors: in general I would think if the person has to handle only the process of locating candidates through offer stage, then probably around 4-5 at a time. If they happen to get orders that are very similar types of positions, then maybe add a couple of more on. This is assuming they are already trained and have access to whatever tools they might need/use.

@Gabriel: Maybe you need to try and look at why only a couple of placements have been made so you can make a decision that is for the betterment of your office. I don't know if you work for a compnay or are an owner, but your staff shouldn't be the decision makers. I know I have had tons of open job orders a few times, but no placements being made. I had to look at why that was happening and make changes so that we could be workking effectively, not just thinking "Oh, we have 50 orders, we're going to make a bunch of money." Reality is 1 viable and filled order is worth hundreds of hope we can make something work job orders!

I think it depends on what the openings are. , ie;  if i have a company who needs 15 of the same thing i can handle a lot of job reqs.  If there are 15 with different companies and different types of jobs then it is a goat rodeo to try and handle them.  It can be done but it's intense and means a 15 hour day or more.  I am in there with Amber that 4/5 is a workable number to be able to deliver with any sort of finesse that results in somebody being placed.


Gabriel, sounds like it might help in this situation to use a few contract sourcers and let your recruiters do the presenting and followup instead of having to do a full desk deal.  If a recruiter has a sourcer feeding them candidates the process speeds up a lot.

From a corporate perspective (it's the same, right?) the most I ever had open at one time with a high growth company was 42 reqs in varying stages (new req, 1st round interview reqs, final stage req) and it was exhausting, but manageable.  I think a well seasoned recruiter should be able to handle upwards of 15 to 20, however ideal is 10-15 open reqs.  Hiring managers are no different if you're on the inside compared to the outside.  My biggest challenge is keeping them in "pace" so we move through the cycle in a reasonable time, but they have meetings, staff to manage, more meetings, have to go to the bathroom, and then do their actual job, so that's the challenge........making them make the time to fill their jobs.  I NEVER want 42 open reqs again.  But just in the last 2 weeks, I've had 7 jobs open up at all levels of the organization and it certainly feels like 42 because they're all at the beginning stage.  Ugh!


6-8 (I am contingent TPR)

We like to think numbers don't we?  How many open reqs, how many submittals per req, how many submittals to interview ratio, how many submittals to an offer, and how many hires?

How many reqs can a recruiter handle / how many is too many?  You got your answer, between 4-8 seems to be the answer.  Wait, or is the answer 15 or is it 45?  It seems people are interpreting your question to mean different things.  I can't imagine that 4 to 45 as being a numerical answer comes from people who thought they were both asked the same question. 

Let's qualify the question.

Are we talking on the temp or perm placement side? - The temp business has overall a greater number of actual hires.  Keep in mind many of these temps only last 1-3 months.  You might be making multiple placements with the same candidate with different clients.  Theoretically, you could make 3-4 placements per year with the same candidate.  How likely is that to happen with a full-time placement?

Are we talking agency or corporate in-house roles? - "Managing" open positions for a corporate person is different.  They have different pressures and expectations which includes reporting, compliance, process management, and managing vendors.  It's not just about the end result but the process of how that happens.  Also, the amount of support this person has either adds or offloads administrative work which could have an effect on actual performance.

Are we talking a specific vertical or a broad range of industries and roles? - If you're a generalist, you're always starting from zero with each req.  If you're a specialist, you might already have some kind of a pipeline or network for a position you're working on.  This, of course, effects numbers.

Are we talking about a sole full-life cycle recruiter with no support or a recruiter who has a sourcer, robust ATS, and other tools and assistance at his/her fingertips? - Going back to my point above with the corporate recruiter.  There are robust environments with lots of support where companies take recruiting seriously.  Then there are environments where internal recruiting is new or they are tight on budget and don't have any tools for the recruiter effectively making his work exceedingly difficult.  Obviously, these two individuals will have different numbers despite being equally talented.

How many reqs is too many?  How many positions can you manage?  It depends.  

Great responses!  Thank you for your incite.  I am a newer agency owner and have been blessed with many clients and jobs, perhaps all too soon.  72 jobs open, 35 of which are all similar in nature, but Nationwide, Perm jobs...that are very hard to place.  All positions are in the healthcare industry, some the CV's are out there and others, non-existent!  I believe my recruiters might be overwhelmed.  I am a huge advocate of exceptional customer service and do not want any of my clients to get more attention than the others.  I feel that working on the larger commissions is usually the best way to go, since most of the jobs are equally challenging to place.  Your thoughts?

Gabriel - Congratulations.  Those are some large numbers by any standard.  Now that you have quantity, do you have quality?  Quality of requirement and customer.  How responsive is the customer, how many other vendors is the customer using, where do you fall in the pecking order of preferred vendors, etc?  All of that and other factors add up to distill and prioritize your requirements to the top 20%, middle 60% and bottom 20% of reqs that probably should not even be worked on.  Once you do your analysis, you should simply eliminate your bottom 20% from the board.  Saves time and energy.  We all know time is money.

Lets pretend out of 75 requirements, about 20 of them are hot and can be up for immediate interview and hire.  That those companies, hiring managers, and needs are current that you have current information and that they love working with you.  Let's pretend further than another 20-30 are decent but you're up against numerous competitors, have less access to hiring managers or less than current information about what might be going on internally at the client site.  

What are my thoughts you ask?

1. As outlined above, you should figure out which 20 positions are HOT.  I would be surprised if you're not already doing this.  I'm sure you have weekly meetings to do just that.  Why wouldn't you align your resources to make you the most money?  What does the top 20 consist of?  a) The customer is responsive and gives fast feedback b) the fees are reasonably good c) you know the client will interview and hire right way d) and you may have a better than average relationship where they actually want to give you the hire/business.  Meaning they aren't shotgunning these requirements to half a dozen other agencies.  Work on these first.

2. Align all of your recruiters to these top 20 reqs period.  It makes no sense to disperse your energy waiting time on the bottom 20 requirements and even the middle 40 before you have your top 20 at least in interview stages and half filled does it?  Get the most bang for your buck out of your recruiters.  Work on the ones that are going to get filled where the customer is going to pay.  Time is working against you so fill these first and fill them fast.

3. Make sure your recruiters are adequately challenged and also trained and given the tools to be successful.  How current are they with sourcing strategies, boolean search techniques, and how professional is their conversation with the candidate?  Everyone needs a refresher.  Not a bad idea to do a weekly training session even for your senior recruiters who may have gotten complacent. 

Although money is a good motivator, there are a couple of leading studies that prove that money only motivates up to a certain level.  Beyond that level its other things like challenging work and the prospect of career growth and personal satisfaction that motivate people to perform.  That number for someone under 30 might be 90-120k.  Once they reach $90k, they seem to coast.  Of course everyone is different but this is a general point worth keeping in mind.

I'm not familiar with the healthcare industry myself but I have a friend who owns a staffing firm supporting the government in the inmate care sector.  He seems to be quite successful so I suspect you are doing fine.

Customer service is nothing more than communication right?  I mean you can't predict the future nor control the behavior of others (no matter how much we want to at times).  What you can do is be responsive and give your customers good solid face time, follow up, and nurturing to make them feel like the center of the universe.

Best of luck Gabriel!

I am certain you are already doing the right things and merely fishing for additional input to add to your arsenal of knowledge.  Well done!  I think we're never too senior or too big to ask for help or seek out more knowledge to aid us in making important decisions. 

Thanks everyone for your replies to this question.

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