At first, there were many. Then there were few.

This may sound like the opening dialogue of a trailer to the next hit blockbuster movie, but in fact, it’s a reality experienced by many inhouse recruitment teams. It’s understood that with this pandemic, companies had to take drastic measures to ensure their own survival. Unfortunately, this included laying off many individuals that fall under what corporations call shared services

Recruitment typically falls into this category, which is why so many talented and hardworking recruiters found themselves without a job almost overnight. We can’t blame a company for trying to keep as many employees employed as possible during times of great financial strain. What we will look at are the steps that employers take once the tide turns and business starts to creep back towards normal.


Balance imbalanced workloads

As the recruiting world does what it can to right itself, what is it like for those recruiters and talent acquisition leaders that have been lucky enough to keep their positions? What has happened to internal recruitment processes now that most requisitions have been placed on hold and a small fraction of the original recruitment department remains at these companies? What happens when jobs start opening back up?

Will companies take the right steps to ensure that their recruiters are supported adequately. Or will revenue and the general ledger be the only things held in their sights?

Let me clarify my personal experience. Companies forced to let go of their recruiting teams due to low requisition numbers and financial hardship, many will hesitate to rehire recruiters and scale their teams back up to fully support greenlighted positions from department heads.

Companies in many instances have taken a financial loss. Which is what triggered the layoffs in the first place. However, once business starts to level out and there’s a need to hire and onboard more employees, many companies try to maximize revenue and limit additional financial losses by not hiring additional recruiting team members.

Not only is this not a way to work their way fiscally back into the black, but in many instances this method adds additional financial strain to the organization. Product teams, engineering teams, and business service teams all end up having massive delays in adding headcount as a direct result of recruiters having too many requisitions to focus on at any given time. 


Recruiters protect their personal brands

The opinion regarding what an optimal number of requisitions for recruiters to manage at any given time varies from person to person. Typically I’ve found that between 10-15 requisitions per recruiter tends to be the best range to remain within. 

I’ve had instances in my career where I’ve had 60-90+ requisitions on my workbench due to understaffing and cost-cutting schemes. Again, this was unmanageable and actually caused me to leave companies that I loved working for out of necessity.

Recruiters in particular, must protect their personal brands. Their brand is extremely important. It’s a primary factor in their success and in their ability to perform their jobs well. If a company creates an internal working environment where failure and subpar work is inevitable, then the recruiter risks damage to their personal brand.

The damage is not only internally with the hiring teams that they support, but also with candidates in the marketplace that they do not manage the candidate experience with in an efficient manner. This external damage to the personal brand “follows” recruiters to whichever company they decide to work at. Which is why so many will eventually voluntarily leave from jobs where they are not supported.


Risk of employee burnout

A result of recruiters being assigned too many requisitions and not having the support needed to fill them quickly and efficiently, can be summed up as employee burnout. Employee burnout is a serious condition that can result from unmanageable workloads like described above.

It’s a condition that causes an organization’s best talent to eventually consider leaving the company for other opportunities. Due to the professional, personal, and emotional strain that is placed on them.

Employers who make tough decisions during times like the pandemic must also be prepared to make strategic hires in order to support their recruiting teams. Even when it’s not optimal to do so because of financial strain.

This will stave off employee burnout and let the recruiting team know that their well being is top of mind, which helps improve productivity and hiring success.


Impact to your employer brand reputation

So what does all of this mean to an employer’s brand? Well, let’s think about what candidates do when looking for a job or when considering a job opportunity.

Most candidates go online and immediately start looking for employee reviews on sites like Glassdoor and Indeed. There’s a mixed consensus on how much stock to put into reviews on these sites from both candidates and employers. But it would be a mistake to discount the impact that these reviews can have on your talent sourcing and recruiting activities.

On these sites, candidates and employees rate their interactions with specific companies during their interview processes or the term of their employment. All of the candidates that do not hear back from a recruiter or hiring manager due to understaffed teams in recruitment have the ability to go on these sites. They will share their personal perspectives on how the business made them feel.

The same also happens with current employees and past employees. Candidates and employees that feel undervalued by a brand have no qualms about sharing their experiences and opinions online. This can be disastrous for these brands and getting enough positive online feedback to counteract the negative can take a lot of time and money.


Suggestions for the way forward

So what’s the suggestion here? I would start with truly evaluating the need to hire specific roles across departments that have decided to greenlight requisitions. Then I would look at the remaining recruitment team and rebalance the recruiter workbenches. If the projected hiring numbers showed that recruiters could potentially have more than 10 requisitions each, I would consider adding another recruiter to the team.

A second option would be to utilize a recruiting and staffing agency partner to scale the recruitment team with contract recruiters. This would enable the business to go through some evaluations and growing pains while it tried to return to a normal operating procedure. Being able to pivot quickly during strained economic times is of the utmost importance.

I would also make it a point to take measure of the team’s morale on a regular basis. Listen to the team. Take their concerns seriously. Remember that recruiters are the first contact for most candidates when it comes to a business’ brand. They have to be able to support the brand’s initiatives and always represent the core values for potential employees to embody and engage with.

An understaffed recruiting team will not likely be able to meet those initiatives. Pay attention to requisition loads and find a way to make sure that help is brought in when needed. Whether this is through a contractor placed by an agency partner, or by adding headcount to the recruiting team.

For those recruiting team members that survived the furloughs and layoffs. They now have to hope that the businesses and brands that they support are willing to truly work towards a well thought out, practical way of reopening requisitions. Taking into account the team members that are under pressure to perform and meet their hiring managers’ expectations.


Employer takeaway

Employers should think about how to set their recruiting teams up for success. They should truly evaluate ways to prevent workloads from becoming unmanageable. If businesses don’t take these necessary steps to help their recruiting team members, they’ll most likely risk damaging their employer brand. Avoid earning a reputation with candidates for not having a great interview process. Or a reputation with employees for not taking into account the well being of the current workforce.

Investing in inhouse recruiting teams will allow employers to keep great talent, maintain a sterling reputation with candidates, and meet initiatives that are aggressive in nature and allow the company to get back on track after the damage caused by the pandemic.


Marcus Twyman

Marcus Twyman is the Founder and Owner of SilverStone Talent LLC, a staffing and recruitment firm that focuses on finding talent for clients nationwide, who specialize in tech, digital and business operations. He’s held many leadership positions within the recruitment industry which includes Fortune 100 companies. Over a 10 year period of time, he’s earned his recruiting-chops working within agency, RPO, startup, and inhouse environments where he’s carried req loads and has led and trained global teams. Marcus believes in being human first, and a recruiter second, which is what has helped him develop his relationships throughout the industry, across the globe.