Is Agile Recruiting the Future of Hiring?

In 2001, a team of software developers published the Agile Manifesto, a set of guiding values and principles for software development. The principles behind the Agile Manifesto include:

  • Working and delivering in small increments
  • Delivering value to the customer or stakeholder
  • Embracing change

In the world of software development, this new way of working allowed teams to deliver new software solutions faster and in small increments, allowing for adaptability and continuous improvement.

Since the Agile Manifesto was published, leaders outside of software development have implemented of its values and principles, and its methodology has been successfully applied to project management, human resources, and more.

Let’s explore how the agile methodology can be used in recruitment, plus why agile recruiting is becoming an increasingly popular approach for many in today’s fast-paced business world. We’ll also provide tips and strategies for implementing agile recruitment at your organization if it makes sense for your team.

What is Agile Recruiting?

Agile recruiting applies the principles and values of the Agile Manifesto to the talent acquisition process, creating a flexible, collaborative, and iterative recruitment process that fills roles quickly, allows for real-time feedback from hiring managers, and adapts throughout the recruitment process.

At its core, agile recruiting is intended to be adaptive. Frequent discussions and feedback allow the recruiter to make micro-adjustments to meet the needs of the business, reducing wasted time and effort. Hiring managers often see faster time to hire, improved candidate experience, increased collaboration, and closer alignment between requirements and the candidates presented.

Candidate being interviewed by a panel of hiring managers

A Few Pointers for Implementing an Agile Recruiting Process

Agile recruiting is a powerful tool for companies, but implementing this process can be a challenge. As you work to implement an agile recruiting process for the first time, these tips may support a smoother transition.

Identify and Engage Key Players Early

In this case, stakeholders might include recruiters, hiring managers, the project sponsor, and an implementation or project manager.

Set Goals

What are you hoping to accomplish by using the agile recruitment method? Metrics that can help you measure outcomes over time include:

  • Candidate source
  • Offer acceptance rate
  • Time to post
  • Time to decision
  • Candidate satisfaction with the recruitment process
  • The number of candidates forwarded to the hiring manager versus the number of candidates they elected to interview

Isolate Tasks

Understanding which tasks or building blocks support the overall recruitment process will help you draft your agile recruiting cycle and design your sprints. Common tasks included in an agile recruiting process include identifying qualifications for the role, writing a job description, paper and phone screening candidates, forwarding candidates to the hiring manager, interviewing candidates, and more.

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Implement Software Solutions

Agile recruiting may be difficult without an ATS (applicant tracking system) that’s designed to accommodate this methodology. The right solution will allow you to plan for each sprint, use project management boards to visualize where candidates are in the process, and more.

Communicate Often

Sprints are most successful with daily meetings to identify and resolve barriers, refine requirements, and adapt to changes. Recruiters should schedule a daily or twice weekly stand-up meeting with their hiring managers to discuss:

  • What they’ve accomplished since the last meeting
  • What’s going well
  • Where improvement or refinement is needed
  • What barriers are slowing or stopping progress

Evaluate KPIs in Real Time

Once you’ve set key performance indicators and implemented an application to measure success, tracking and analyzing those metrics daily facilitates the continuous improvement that agile processes are known for achieving.

QUIZ: How Much Time Could You Save on Recruiting?

Challenges You Might Face in Agile Recruitment

As you work to implement the agile recruitment process, you’re likely to experience some of the same challenges software teams face when they implement Agile for the first time.

Initial Effort Required

Transitioning to an agile recruiting methodology for the first time can feel insurmountable, especially while using existing tools. It’s not unheard of for organizations to set out toward agile recruiting and throw in the towel before they get there.

To help manage the effort required to transition, consider 1) assigning a project manager to oversee project planning and resource allocation, and 2) implementing software solutions to ease the burden. Transitioning to agile recruiting is substantially easier when your project includes an application designed to support agile recruitment.

Misaligned Expectations

While agile recruiting can keep your hiring managers informed and facilitate continuous improvement, it can’t solve the root cause behind some talent acquisition problems. For example, issues with your compensation package, company culture, or leadership can’t be resolved through agile recruiting.

It’s important to understand—before you implement a new recruitment process—what it can and can’t deliver, plus what additional steps you might need to take to drive positive change.

To address this common challenge, engage in a thorough evaluation of your organization in advance. What’s going well? Where is improvement needed? How will an agile recruitment process help? Communicate what you’ve learned with senior leaders.

man looking at a laptop

Resistance to Change

Anytime you implement a new process, initiative, or policy, you’re likely to face some resistance. Both recruiters and hiring managers might feel apprehensive because of fear of the unknown, loss of control, or reluctance to relearn what they do or how they do it.

Leaders can help prevent and respond to these feelings by clearly communicating why change is needed, involving stakeholders in the process, addressing fears and concerns as they arise, and providing adequate training and support. Hiring managers and recruiters can help by demonstrating a positive attitude toward the change and celebrating successes as they’re achieved.

Agile Recruitment in Action (Sample Agile Recruitment Process)

While the agile recruitment process can be customized to meet your needs, seeing a sample agile recruiting cycle can illustrate how it facilitates continuous delivery and improvement. Let’s explore what agile recruitment looks like in action:

  1. The hiring manager defines the requirements. During this step, the hiring manager outlines what they’re looking for in a candidate and shares the details that will be most important as the recruiter screens candidates.
  2. The talent acquisition team sources candidates based on the requirements outlined by the hiring manager. In this step, the recruiter might post the position to job boards, post the position internally, and search through their existing talent pool for qualified candidates to recruit.
  3. The recruiter paper screens and phone screens qualified candidates to gauge their level of interest and get clarification on education and experience if needed.
  4. The recruiter presents qualified candidates to the manager. The manager either accepts the candidates and moves forward with interviews or rejects the candidates and refines the requirements.
  5. If a candidate is not selected, the process begins again, this time with refined requirements that improve the recruiter’s chances of identifying candidates that meet the hiring manager’s expectations.

In an agile organization, these steps fit into a pre-defined period called a sprint. A recruiting sprint might range from two to four weeks, where all the steps above fit into that timeline before it starts over.

ALSO READ: How to Hire Employees: The Ultimate Guide

Is Agile Recruitment for You?

Agile recruiting offers a modern approach to hiring that emphasizes adaptability, collaboration, and flexibility. It breaks the hiring process into small, more manageable tasks and uses data and feedback to improve the process in real time.

Agile recruiting is characterized by short hiring cycles, frequent communication between recruiters and hiring managers, and identifying the most qualified candidates quickly. It also involves leveraging technology like applicant tracking systems and analytics to streamline the process.

Adopting an agile recruiting methodology can help you achieve faster time to hire, great hires, improved candidate experience, and better collaboration between talent acquisition and operations. By embracing an agile approach, you can stay ahead of changing recruitment trends, respond quickly to shifting business needs, and attract top talent in a competitive job market.

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