Talent Circles

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Recruiters Are Really Project Managers

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

The term project manager might traditionally be reserved for IT professionals, but no matter what your career path, you’re most likely also a project manager. For instance, as a marketer and strategist, I juggle multiple clients at one time. Each has different requirements, expectations and a relationship that is separate and unique. A project manager, regardless of their industry, oversees a project through the planning, tactical and measurement phases, from beginning to end. Recruiters understand this tightrope walk better than anyone else. Their title may be recruiter, but their day-to-day responsibilities center around project management.

It’s no wonder that recruiters aren’t just great at recruiting. Through an informal survey of my recruiter friends and colleagues, I found that the average recruiter is handling approximately 25 job listings a month! That means that they could be working with as many as 25 different hiring managers and around 5,000 candidates on a monthly basis. No one handles that kind of client load without some serious project management skills.

This demand on recruiters is what pushes so many to become recruiters by day and project managers by night. What I mean by this is that the workload continues on regardless of how hectic schedules become, the number of phone calls they receive in a day or how many resumes each job listing summons. Throughout a 12 month period, an average recruiter will likely oversee 300 job requisitions and handle 60,000 candidates. These numbers alone tell you that now more than ever, recruiters are master project managers as well.

From my own observations, recruiting project management consists of three key functions:

Meeting client needs
It’s clear that recruiters are there to meet the needs of those we traditionally call their clients: the hiring managers. But when we talk about meeting needs, what doesn’t come up as often is the whole other set of clients that recruiters have: candidates. It’s true that recruiters mainly focus on supporting the hiring managers, but great recruiters care about their candidates’ needs as well and have to manage concerns, expectations and hopes on both ends of the spectrum. This alone can take up an enormous amount of time, and yet many recruiters keep the balance well and develop relationships with both parties that are beneficial in the future.

Keeping an excellent calendar and staying on target
Part recruiter, part project manager, part calendar keeper. Thus is the life of a recruiter. Not only do recruiters have to manage their own calendar but they also must coordinate with candidates, hiring managers, potential candidates and many more parties. It sounds simple, but it can be challenging when you also add in the stress of sticking to a hiring timeline, staying on target and meeting goals. In order to achieve this, recruiters often have to encourage, remind and accommodate.

Playing match maker
Aside from the logistics of juggling dozens of hiring managers and hundreds of candidates, recruiters must also be skilled in making great matches. It sounds obvious, but it’s both vital and sometimes forgotten by the time you’ve completed all the administrative tasks it takes to get there. Drawing contrast from the IT world once again, it’s the same as a technology project manager also understanding the technological side of what everyone on his or her team is doing. In the recruiting world, it’s not enough to just be a great recruiter or just be an excellent project manager. You must be able to cover all the bases in order to move from project to project, researching and fulfilling the needs of all parties.

 Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell


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  2. A recruiter armed with MS Project or Primavera has a huge advantage. Project management tools, such as these, make it easy to clearly define what the Hiring Manager and their team is going to do and what the recruiter is going to do.

    Having this information on a professional timeline enables one to remain flexible as contingencies arise, as they always do, yet meet the final delivery date.

    In the realm of 'Meeting Client Needs' it is vital that these be defined from the outset. Sorry but hardly any Job Descriptions cut the mustard. Recruiters need to creatively assist the Hiring Manager and at least that person's boss to drill down to define which Attributes must be found in Job Champions.

    These two aspects of Project Management and Recruitment Management are central to success in both professions.