A former manager of mine taught me a long time ago to always ask "is this a good use of my time?". I ask this question regularly to help evaluate if I am working smart or just working hard. Both are important, but working smart is what allows you to improve your recruiting efficiency. Spend time developing a strong relationship with hiring managers, talk to the right candidates and implement the right systems to help you stay organized.
Develop a relationship with your hiring manager
I believe the hiring manager is the most important person in the recruiting equation. Make the time upfront to get to know him or her. Start with a thorough intake meeting by preparing questions that cover not only the job spec in detail, but also the ideal candidate profile, target companies to recruit from, the interview process and compensation. This step is critical because it will help prevent having to track down answers to questions you should already have. A 30-45 minute meeting will save you a ton of time later!
It's not only important to understand what your hiring manager is looking for in a candidate, but it is equally important to set realistic expectations. According to Glassdoor's new eBook 50 HR and Recruiting Stats for 2016, it takes an average of 52 days to fill a requisition. Share this information early on so everyone involved can plan accordingly. I also recommend a recurring weekly "catch up". 30 minutes a week is usually sufficient to cover candidate activity, questions, challenges and/or changes to the search.
Developing a relationship with your hiring manager will make you more efficient by allowing you to focus on a targeted candidate search, which brings me to my next point.
Talk to the right candidates
It's easy to let one phone screen roll to the next, to the next, to the next and before you know it you've spent an entire day speaking with candidates, yet you may not be any closer to filling the job. As a recruiter, it is really easy to get caught up in the fast pace and high volume nature of the job, which can lead to mindlessly reaching out to candidates that "might" be a fit. I assure you it is worth taking a step back to really evaluate whether it is worth your time and the candidate's time to have a phone conversation. It only takes a couple minutes to assess a candidate's qualifications on paper.
Once you have identified the right candidate to speak to, prepare questions in advance that address not only each candidate's credentials and background, but also culture fit, motivators, availability and compensation. Your first conversation with a candidate is similar to your intake meeting with a hiring manager. Get as much information as possible so you don't have to track it down later.
One of the most frustrating outcomes as a recruiter is losing a candidate. Pre-close candidates on expected start dates and compensation in that first conversation. Set expectations upfront and reset expectations every step of the way. Don't waste your time with a candidate that is unlikely to accept an offer.
Utilize the right systems
So far I've covered who to spend your time with and how to spend it. The last piece, however, is utilizing the right systems to ensure your hard work isn't lost in the process. I am a huge proponent of documentation and the best way to document everything is to implement an Applicant Tracking System (ATS). There are plenty of options available today and I encourage you to find one that works best for you and your organization. At Glassdoor, we use Jobvite.
Take notes during your intake meeting. Take notes during your candidate phone screenings. In fact, take notes every time you speak with the hiring manager or a candidate. Even if you have a photographic memory, I encourage you to document everything. My theory is anyone should be able to pull up a requisition in your ATS and be able to pick up where you left off.
In the recruiting world, working hard is not always working smart. Activity alone will not make the right hire. Working smart means investing in the relationship with your hiring manager, talking to the right candidates and utilize the right systems to track every step of the way.