is there a place for Lean in Recruitment

Is there a place for “Lean” in Recruitment?

We are all striving to keep it lean or cut the fat in life as well as in business. There are many to choose from when it comes to recruitment styles, and every recruiter will have a different spin on the process.  The one key element that does not differ from recruiter to recruiter is that we all want to get the job done in as little time as possible and with just as little spend. The same can be said for the customer needing the services of a recruiter. And, so we ask the question, “Is there a place for “Lean” in Recruitment?”

Simply put, ‘Lean’ means creating more value for customers with fewer resources.  The core idea is to maximise customer value while minimising waste. A lean recruitment agency understands customer value and focuses its key processes on continuously increasing it. The ultimate goal?  To provide value to the customer through a perfect value creation process that has zero waste. 


How does one achieve lean recruitment without reducing real engagement?

To accomplish a lean recruitment process, lean thinking is required. This means changing the management’s focus from optimizing separate technologies, assets, and vertical departments to optimizing the flow of products and services. 

They must do this through entire value streams that flow horizontally across technologies, assets, and departments straight to customers. Now, that was a mouthful, but very palatable and very possible.


Do away with traditional business systems

Eliminating waste along entire value streams, instead of at isolated points, creates processes that need less human effort, less space, less capital, and less time at far fewer costs and with much fewer defects, compared with traditional business systems.

Recruiters can respond to changing customer desires with high variety, high quality, low cost, and speedy output times. As a result, information management becomes much simpler and more accurate. 


So, how could a Recruiter be more ‘Lean’?

Think like a lean manufacturing plant.

Think about the ‘lean’ recruitment process, much like you would a manufacturing plant. Lean manufacturing is a methodology focused on reducing waste without sacrificing productivity. A lean process is defined by the customer and what they deem to be valuable, and then what isn’t valuable is removed. 

The phrase “as efficient as a conveyor belt” comes to mind, whereby the item being manufactured goes down a road/belt to land up on the other side in its completion with as little human intervention as possible and with minimal costs involved.


GEM Recruiting AI

Eliminate non-automated processes.

A large number of recruiter’s processes can be templated and automated. 

I have gone through the process of using an applicant tracking system, to a tailored easy-to-use database, to an in-house job board, and full circle, to the belief that I only needed to extract data when I needed it.  Yes, it’s a journey to discovery.


Look at your entire talent acquisition strategy.

What are the different processes involved in filling an open position? How are those processes tracked or measured? It is not enough to build your system and let it run as-is. Your recruitment methods need to be analyzed, adapted, and at times, changed entirely to remain cost-effective and successful. 

Is one of your job boards expensive but consistently returning sub-par candidates? Does your team spend too much time analyzing every data point? Are managers kept waiting too long before they can interview quality candidates? These are just a few examples of the waste that can arise. Taking a serious look at your processes will help you eliminate inefficiencies and adapt to changing trends. 


Know that it takes time, but is very worth it.

So, you have established your recruitment strategy and the metrics you will use to measure its success. You have reviewed the whole system and found some genuine room for improvement. But how do you move forward? Perhaps your team has spent a lot of time building up a talent pipeline, but when an opening actually arises, most of those candidates have already found other jobs, or they’re content where they are. Was it worth your time to develop the talent pipeline?

Change is tough for any business; however, if you can accept that not everything will work perfectly the first time around, you will end up with a much more flexible talent acquisition strategy. 

Understand what is working.  Socialize with the rest of your team. Communicate constantly. Review processes and systems often. Test. Retest. And, know that this consistency and focused attention will lead to higher productivity, efficiency and will increase service levels to both your clients and candidates.

The road to a “lean” recruitment process is very possible.

Anthony Kettle

Anthony Kettle is the co-owner of West Coast Personnel, a successful recruitment agency that has been around for going on 21 years in the Table View, Western Cape area.  Anthony specialises predominantly in the engineering and manufacturing space; however, he has a wealth of knowledge to impart on all aspects of recruitment.  He has recently published his books, The Job Seeker's Handbook and The Recruiter’s Handbook, available on Amazon as eBooks.