Staffing Fundamentals - Rising to the Top - Staffing Desk Organization & Time Management

Cartoon courtesy of

Welcome to my 2nd installment of Staffing Fundamentals - Rising to the Top - Staffing Desk Organization and Time Management.  It was about 2 and a half years ago - the owner of netPolarity in the Silicon Valley - David Chuang approached me and asked me to conduct a presentation on time management in our staffing agency.  I had been fairly successful about finding my productivity rythym and success in my first year and was considered one of our top staffing contributors in a temp agency environment and had thus created my own system of Time Management.  Interestingly enough - on that very day - I had just completed an amazing month - almost 8 hires reaching our bonus and feeling pretty good about the outcomes and flow.

The amazing thing was I saw how important desk management was to overall effective staffing management - so vital in fact that it can make or break your success flow.  As I analyzed the reality of the staffing work flow as I tried to prepare that presentation - it came like a lightening bolt in terms of realization.  I am paramount to what I commit to.  One vital component is to set expectations and re-align and adapt fast.  One thing I noticed was to get a real picture view of where the needed staffing focal points were.  It was this that I couldn't help but take forward.  As you take control of your time, and your desk by analyzing the work flow and the pre-existing circumstances of what takes time on any given day you realize that in order to arrive to your goals you must first be selfish and effective with your time.  It all starts by avoiding what I called the "Smoke and Mirrors Affect" - that is a directionless and lost focal point of staffing rythym - in other words a lack of discipline in time on the staffing desk.  What is critical that day?  What is most pressing?  By pulling your own requisition report you must be forward thinking and realistic about your staffing desk flows and work focus.  I had found this cartoon above from and found it to be quite poignant in point and principle.  All smoke and mirrors - no direction, no real focus - all smoke and mirrors and no particular basis to make decisions.

How many times in your staffing day are you pulled in 10 different directions?  Think on that for a moment - and the following while great tools can be enormous time wasters and time consumers:

  • Instant Message: fabulous for contacting folks real time and getting answers to get a job done, but actually quite irritating when one is trying to focus - I personally have abused and used IM to it's many wonderful features, but ponder just for a moment how this takes you off your time management control.  Vital is to be cognizant of other's time, trying to be valiant in helping others be efficient.  But sometimes it makes sense to put yourself on Do Not Disturb.  In this you can and should control your availability at times and block off times when IM is on and when it is off.
  • Email: of all the things we have in our modern era - this one is the most pressing and demands answers real-time throughout the day.  It can be a great tool for tracking and disseminating information.  However, like anything else must be managed well - in other words those that send an email or an instant message need to be aware efficiency and email control are vital - answering email at a particular point in the day or if you can wait on some things, that will be important to your work flow.  Control email and put it in it's proper place - I even tell folks from IM that Email is preferred as I can control when I look at it and mark it with priority status and thus facilitate what is urgent and what is "nice to do".  Also by contacting candidates via email and managers via email you can in affect see whom responds and further prioritize and rank tasks to their desired urgency status.
  • Phone/Voicemail: by far my most favorite tool.  Where IM and email could be misinterpreted and recalled - Phone is by far the control device I use to set people at ease, negotiate outcomes, and manage my process.  Something done via phone is essential and critical to success.  It allows you to guage the emotional intelligence of candidates, it allows for networking, it allows for real time options to keep the movement going, a cold call screen is my preferred methodology, some candidates like to schedule something, which is great.  Voicemails can also be used to quantify whom is the more professional of candidates and further prioritized.  Lastly, phone is the methodology, that allows pure negotiation to take place and assists with real time candidate control to tell candidates what they need to do to navigate your company process as well the best way to set a manager at ease or assist them with their direction.
  • Social Media Tools: with the advent of Social Media - Web 2.0 technologies have changed our ability to find and attract talent quickly.  By so doing we can push ahead and make the amazing happen.  The truth is - LinkedIn is a powerful tool for candidate engagement.  It is a vital component to uncovering the greatest candidates and engaging quickly and effortlessly.  Facebook and Twitter allow us to hone and engage key talent via our keyboard and mouse.  However, we can also get stuck in this.  It is vital depending on the search to use laser accurate options when the need arises.  In this, we find the greatest outcomes can be pursued with a vital staffing interest.  Prioritizing when Social Media should be used is key to success and other times may be the powerful option to to pull the passive candidates fast.
  • Submittals: there are times when you need to prioritize which positions are the hottest, which hiring managers and candidates are ready to move, and accommodate and feed that desire with fresh talent when they are ready.  Taking control here will lay the groundwork to cut your time to fill.  Put your top priorities in and categorize them by hottest priority and requirement age, and manager feedback timelines.
  • Interview Set up timeframes: Getting manager and candidate together in the same room and talking on the phone are vital.  The sooner the recruiter identifies the talent and the timeline to the interview then the faster the process will proceed.
  • Offer Negotiation: A principle of candidate and manager control is offer negotiation - on the one hand you should know the budget as soon as possible, on the other you must find out what the candidate will accept.  It is best to hash this out prior to the candidate's getting too far down the process and knowing this and funnelling candidates to the right place can control and make efficient this area.
  • Background Checks/Onboarding/Timelines to Start: know how your onboarding process works, hash out with candidate benefits timelines, give candidate an expectation of when they accept what they are in for until the process concludes with a start-date, in so many words, helping manager and candidate navigate this and providing vital details are essential to success.
  • Internal Candidates: at my work place the internal candidate scenario is often quite the adventure.  First you must ensure internal candidate can pursue an internal role (by following established protocols), 2nd you must control both the candidate & manager exchanges whenever possible and let both parties know expectations on the timelines for decision as well instruct hiring manager to make you aware immediately of any contact one receives on this front.  If you do not control this one area - it can blow up politically.  You must let candidate know to funnel everything through you, be on top of the exchanges from beginning to end, instruct your manager to kindly tell candidate that the recruiter "needs to speak with you first" and cc you.  Own this process and treat it like gold, provide internal candidates the needed window for career advice and investment, the internal candidate experience can be very particular and can also be the one area that can escape your control, you must be smarter than everyone in the process, predict human nature and ensure your protocols are adhered to, and hold others accountable by getting buy-in from HR, hiring manager's manager, candidate's manager, and other stakeholders.  Training may be needed.  It is here that most folks will sometimes circumvent the recruiter to internally get to the hiring manager, in this area, be prepared to coach, and be firm about the importance of the process, provide real-time information and answer questions.  Sometimes folks have an established opinion and may not understand the process and why it happens as it does.  Candidate Control (will be my third series) and Manager Control (addressed previously), go to the heart of time management excellence, and will give you time to be doing what recruiters should be doing boldly: sourcing, finding, and engaging talent.

Some strong thoughts above.  The final elements of staffing desk management and time management are prioritizing by important tasks - A's, B's, C's.

Your A's: Most Pressing Items to be done today - examples include - offer processing, offer negotiation, critical interviews, and positions where manager and candidates are actively engaged.

Your B's: Need to be done - but timeline isn't as urgent - could be the screening process for one requirement, the submittal process, interview set-ups, things that may be done "tomorrow" and don't need to be done "today".  Hiring managers and Candidates are engaged but not beating down the door to get to the goal, and can "wait".  Setting a new intake session to begin a new process.

Your C's: Nice to dos - if you can't get to your B's these are last priority, perhaps those items such as returning a phone call, following up with a hard to reach manager, checking on future pipelines for new candidate needs, reaching out to the hiring manager that hasn't returned calls, but one more call "could help".  Anything that might wait and is not a critical deadline today - could be 2-3 weeks out.

Also Sourcing Prioritization - key to your future success, being prepared before the need arises by real time talent engagement to a future need and anticipating the horizon.  This is also key.

Finally - setting a planner and reviewing key elements are vital.  Looking at calendar items that you wish to achieve and setting your goals and seeing what is on the horizon is key, reviewing your requisition report for length of time open, responsiveness, interview feedback items and more can all be vital places to maneuver.

Staffing Desk Management or Taking control and getting rid of the "Smoke and Mirrors" affect.  Vital to today's staffing process, will help with work life balance, and efficiency and happiness of both managers and candidates.  That's the essence of a good staffing focal point - and all starts with affective planning and prioritization.

***This post is of my own creation and in no way represents the thoughts, opinions, or represents ADP's focus in any way.  This post is of my own - I am solely responsible for it's content.  I am a proud ADP Recruiting Associate.

Views: 866

Comment by Jai Turner on August 29, 2013 at 9:43pm

Very good read! I enjoyed this! Yes, very helpful for me...

Comment by Mike Rasmussen on August 30, 2013 at 3:12am

Glad you enjoyed it.  I'm writing a several part series on staffing fundamentals that I pick up from day to day in my staffing desk - feel free to share!


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