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Agile Recruiting: Definition, Importance, Best Practices

Asavari Sharma

October 02, 2023

It was in 2001 when a team of software developers first adopted the principles of agile methodology to manage a project by breaking it into several phases. They aimed to be more productive and streamlined in their work by eliminating barriers and waste points.

Fast forward to today, an increasing number of industries and functions are discovering the benefits of Agile, including recruitment.

That is because the methodology helps businesses adapt to market changes quickly, respond flexibly to customer demands, and perform optimally and cost-effectively without promising quality. Agile enables businesses to be at a competitive advantage continuously.

No wonder 79% of global executives consider agile performance management as a high organizational priority. But why is agile recruiting beneficial for businesses?

You see, every agile recruiter wishes for two items — more efficient processes and the ability to hire the right fit consistently. It is, therefore, essential to have the proper workflows, tools, and teams to achieve these goals.

That is where agile recruiting enters the picture. But before delving more into that, let us understand what the term means:

What is agile recruiting?

Agile recruiting is a methodology focusing on exchanging regular feedback from and between key project stakeholders to identify changes in the recruitment process, make better business decisions, and produce better outcomes.

Agile makes recruiting less risky and more efficient. In this context, risk refers to the quality of hires and the associated costs and resources. The methodology creates a framework for hiring, which includes regular feedback, communication, and process refinement.

An agile recruiting process integrates short cycles of work called sprints, which lay out the requirements and help carry out tasks as efficiently as possible while receiving approvals from stakeholders. The next step is modified based on the feedback received at every stage.

Benefits of Agile recruitment

Irrespective of the industry niche and job market, recruiting is tough. Businesses are always looking for top talent, and professionals also have expectations and demands from future employers. An agile recruiting process offers the following benefits to HR:

1. Shorter hiring cycle

Typical recruitment processes can drag on for a long time, which is mentally exhausting for both agile recruiters and candidates. In fact, the former could also lose out on suitable candidates.

Using sprint methodology, you can structure your workflow by assigning smaller tasks — for instance, touching base with candidates more often or finishing all interviews by a specific date so that you arrive at an outcome faster.

In addition, you have more control over what you are supposed to do and enjoy greater flexibility in how you approach your agile recruiting process.

2. Instant feedback

The idea of a sprint is to create more touchpoints with all the stakeholders involved in hiring and receive real-time feedback for making proper adjustments on the fly. For instance, if you are off target regarding your candidate search, you can tweak the strategy accordingly without wasting too much of your time or resources and get the job done swiftly and effectively.

3. Improved candidate experience

Agile enables you to take a proactive approach that puts people at the center of the hiring process — thanks to constant communication and quick processes. Naturally, this boosts the employer brand and improves the candidate experience.

4. Enhanced productivity

Agile facilitates faster and more effective communication and collaboration. You can methodically discuss each aspect of the hiring process on a single platform — sharing candidate ratings, prioritizing tasks, taking input from managers of teams for whom hiring is being done, and so on to encourage interdisciplinary problem-solving and quick action.

5. Increased flexibility

Like the labor market, hiring demands can be volatile and prone to change. To ensure your recruitment team is prepared to adopt potential hiring spikes and well-equipped to adjust to sudden expedited deadlines, utilizing the Agile methodology is critical to overall success.

Agile recruiting best practices for your team to follow

Applying an agile mindset is not easy. It comprises many aspects — from redefining the candidate selection criteria to reinventing the hiring process. So, how can you embed agile in your agile recruiting process? By following these six best practices:

1. Define your hiring requirements

One of the reasons businesses struggle with their hiring goals is that they are never clear about what they want. Because of that, the process constantly changes, and not in a good way. Your goals should be clearly defined and answer vital questions like:

  • What are the objectives for a particular job role?
  • Are you looking at a specific skill set? Make a note of that.
  • How urgent is the requirement? Is it even possible to hire a person that quickly?
  • Is the position absolutely necessary for the business, or can an existing employee do it?

Therefore, the first step here is to identify the job vacancies your business is looking to fill along with the requirements for a successful hire. Agile recruitment empowers you to plan and make sure your stakeholders buy into it.

When the hiring demands are well understood, all can move in one direction efficiently and supplement the workforce accordingly.

2. Assemble the right team

Having the right people by your side is essential to tapping the full potential of agile methodology. Everyone should have clarity about their roles and responsibilities. A typical Agile framework used by agile recruiters is Scrum, which comprises working in "sprints."

A sprint is defined as a short, time-boxed period within which a Scrum team works to complete a specific task. Sprints work best with smaller groups (not comprising more than nine people) so that each team member can be entrusted with a responsibility.

An average recruiting Scrum team comprises three types of roles:

  • Scrum master: This person is responsible for promoting and supporting Scrum within the hiring team and is the link between the internal team and external stakeholders.
  • Project owner: The goal of this person is to maximize the hiring team's effectiveness. They work closely with the internal team and stakeholders to strategize the entire recruitment process and create a backlog, which is basically a to-do list that has to be completed as part of a project.
  • Recruitment team: As the name suggests, it consists of all the cross-functional professionals with specialized skill sets who work towards achieving the recruiting needs of the business.

3. Set up metrics and implement technology

Key performance indicators or KPIs are essential in agile to evaluate each task of sprint planning, assess your performance and gauge the progress of your recruitment process. Therefore, track KPIs like the source of hire, time to hire, applicants per opening, and cost per hire.

You may want to consider using a basic project management solution for this purpose. Quantify your metrics and start monitoring them at set frequencies such as monthly, weekly, or daily with the help of reports and dashboards.

Use agile recruiting technologies to standardize and automate various tasks related to candidate screening and minimize your administrative burden. Invest in training to ensure you and your team utilize all the features of the HR tools to simplify how you do your jobs.

4. Break down projects into smaller tasks

The entire project is broken into small and specific tasks in an agile recruitment process. The work is broken down into sprints to enhance efficiency.

Each sprint adds a certain value to the project and allows you to act on feedback and prepare for the next sprint. This ensures your agile recruiting process is on track and you can adapt to the changes on time. Here is an example of a sprint:

  • Week 1: Confirm the positions for which hiring needs to be done and prepare detailed and attractive job descriptions.
  • Week 2: Source candidates from various places such as social media, referrals, and job portals, screen the resumes, and get feedback from the hiring manager.
  • Week 3: Reach out to applicants and shortlist the best ones using a pre-employment assessment tool such as Adaface.
  • Week 4: Schedule interviews of candidates who passed the test with hiring managers.

5. Visualize your progress and have daily/weekly Scrum meetings

It helps to have a visual display of your progress for each sprint. That way, everyone in your team has a clear understanding of which tasks are done, which are yet to be started, and what was the major roadblock for the team to conquer. It ensures everyone is on the same page and allows team members to see what they can adjust.

Create a Scrum board using the Kanban model to split the project into segments, representing a different stage of the project and its tasks. Use Trello or a similar project & task management tool to take away the guesswork from your tasks and gain clarity on your week.

Besides, have daily or weekly Scrum meetings to nudge every team member to talk about their progress since the last Scrum meeting and what they are planning to achieve in the coming day or week. It helps raise accountability amongst your hiring team and boosts their efficiency.

6. Keep reviewing and modifying your process

Your job is not done after you have hired the candidate. It is essential to review if your agile recruitment process was as efficient as intended.

You can better measure your team's performance and assess how your hiring plan is progressing by tracking your metrics regularly, for instance, at the end of each sprint.

By gaining an insight into such data, you will be better positioned to identify areas that need improvement and make necessary alterations to enhance your hiring efforts.

Look at what you learned as a team, what can be done faster and more efficiently, and incorporate those findings in your next sprint cycle. The quicker you learn to adapt, the better equipped you will be to take on any change in the market.

When does agile recruiting fail?

Sure, an agile recruitment process can help us attract, engage and recruit the right candidate. But have you ever wondered about its success rate? Not all agile recruiting projects are successful. Some fail too. What is the reason behind that? Let us find out:

1. Poor planning and coordination

An agile hiring process requires extensive planning and a high level of coordination. You need to set down and respect your priorities in the sprint because if you keep changing your priorities, that will ultimately lead to failure. Clarify scopes for the team, and make sure things move fast and remain compliant with the budget.

2. Too many processes complicating things

Do the daily stand-ups run longer than 15 minutes? Are there too many stakeholders involved with no specific point of contact? Are you using a variety of tools at the same time? Too much of everything can also make matters worse. Eliminate elements that are not important.

3. Lack of a skilled Scrum master

Many businesses appoint an internal manager as the Scrum master. However, they may lack the skills or experience needed to lead an agile project. Do not take the shortcut here. Instead, hire someone with the right mindset and skills. Otherwise, the hiring process will most likely fail.

4. Infrequent communication

No project can be successful without adequate communication. If agile recruiters, managers, and other stakeholders do not meet regularly, it will be impossible to adapt to changing job requirements and the market as needed. To avoid such situations, daily stand-ups and sprints can help significantly.

Wrapping it up

When appropriately implemented, agile recruiting strategies enable flexibility, scalability, and greater participation from all parties involved in the hiring process. The agile methodology allows you to build stronger candidate pools and hire efficiently.

However, it does not mean you should follow all the methodology principles to the letter. Instead, start small and pick up elements (such as using Kanban boards or having daily standups) that best suit your hiring requirements and organizational goals.

That being said, you still need to cultivate strong relationships with your team, external stakeholders and candidates alike, and agile recruiting is simply a more efficient process of doing your job. What do you think?

Asavari Sharma

Asavari is an EiR at Adaface. She has made it her mission to help recruiters deploy candidate-friendly skill tests instead of trick-question based tests. When taking a break, she obsesses over art.

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