Lean, Just-in-Time Recruiting!

The 80/20 Rule

Author: Karen Antrim – Lean Human Capital  

Years ago, my boss said to me “this place has too much of the 80/20 rule.”  “80/20 rule?” I asked.  “It’s when 80 percent of the work gets done by 20 percent of the people.” he answered.

In my real life, when I’m not sourcing or teaching sourcing, I’m a mom.  I volunteer at my kids school, at our church, and for little league.   I often observe the 80/20 there.  You’ve probably noticed this in your real life too.  80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the parents.

Weekly, I read about a new tool, technique or process that is going to change the way we source.  Or, I get an email for a class on how to improve and write better Boolean strings to find resumes or lists on the net.  I’m all for constant learning and constant improvement.  It’s the mantra our firm is based on.  However, I work for recruiters who have very little time and a mountain of openings to fill.  So my ability to get them accurate prospective candidates in a short time is a priority.  My sourcing techniques must provide the biggest return for the effort.  They must adhere to the “80/20 rule”.

The principle applies to recruiters who do their own sourcing. They have even less time for each activity in the recruitment process without a sourcing staff to assist them.  The “80/20 rule” should become a guiding principle.

Simply put, the 80/20 rule is how to get 80% of your candidates with 20% of the tools and processes of sourcing.

Let’s take some specific examples.  We all know that Linkedin.com has the largest community of profiles of any social professional network.  If you have time constraints on your recruitment process, why use any other network?  Get 80% of your prospects, build 80% of your network, start 80% of your conversations in LinkedIn.

Here is an inverse example.  I understand the appeal of long and sexy Boolean search strings.  As a Boolean geek, I dig‘em.  But as a person who must be pragmatic in her practices, they do not return enough bang for the buck.  They don’t adhere to the 80/20 rule.  For example, the popular string (Intitle:resume OR inurl:resume OR intitle:cv OR inurl:CV  OR etc..) generally finds resumes that have been posted on a personal website or perhaps a university faculty bio. There just isn’t a large population of these out there.  One can spend a great deal of time playing with keywords in this string and not get a large return for their time investment.  This is an example of the 20/80 rule.  20% return on 80% of the investment.

Pick your top 3-5 successful sourcing activities, and stick with those.  Mine are:

  1. Site command to harvest linkedin.com
  2. Subscription resume database such as Monster
  3. My ATS
  4. Finding associations and membership lists
  5. Target companies to raid with call campaign

As a recruiter, you may change out #4 for working your own existing network.

Regardless of whether you’re a recruiter doing your own sourcing, or a sourcer supporting recruiters, putting 20% of your time in these activities will produce 80% of your prospect list.  That leaves a whole lot of time for other tasks, such as candidate interaction, building your network, or branding yourself and your organization.

Happy Sourcing!

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