How much time do recruiters spend NOT filling jobs?

Despite running a successful recruitment agency for over a decade, it never ceased to amaze me the amount of time recruiters wasted on non-essential activities (which I classify as registering jobs and filling them).

As recruitment becomes more competitive, keeping your consultants laser-focused on the activities that lead them to a placement is the holy grail of owning/managing a recruitment agency. It was a constant challenge running Healthcare Recruiters.

In meetings with my team members over the years, I’ve lost count of the amount of times I heard “no one is getting back to me”, yet they’d call the same people over and over! Another classic excuse was “I’m trying to find people to call” or “I’m trying to track down the hiring manager.”

There are a number of other excuses routinely offered by recruiters to avoid their core function: filling jobs. There are absolutely activities that are associated with recruitment that may help in filling jobs, however I believe many recruiters use them as a crutch to avoid getting on the phone and focusing on what will make them money.

Based on my experience, I had a gut feel of the types of activities that recruiters perform that I would deem as an inefficient use of their time. But was I correct?

Armed with a simple survey and phone, I contacted nearly four dozen recruiters (26 junior recruiters, 21 senior ones), asking each “Which tasks take up most of your time, aside from directly registering and filling jobs?”

I also asked them to outline the amount of time per week they spend on these tasks.

The results shocked me.

Junior/Intermediate Recruiters:

27% of time spent researching for new business/client contacts

23% of time spent on searching internal database and reviewing previous candidate activity

20% of time spent on “job chasing” – tracking job boards for new roles to work on

13% of time spent prospecting/cold calling

10% of time spent in meetings/planning tasks for the week

5% of time spent socialising/coffee breaks!

Senior Recruiters

54% of time spent maintaining current client and candidate relationships

15% of time spent searching internal database and reviewing previous candidate activity

15% of time spent prospecting for new business

11% of time spent managing/overseeing/training junior recruiters

4% of time spent on other business development projects

The specific tasks recruiters are spending their time on didn’t surprise me, however the amount of time spent in a week trying to figure out who to call or what to prioritize was staggering!

In a 40-hour work week, junior recruiters are effectively spending half their time (18-23 hours per week) working out who to reach out to. For senior recruiters, the majority of time (estimated at 12-15 hours per week) is spent chasing the same people.

Granted, the sample size is small, and there are nuances that haven’t been covered off. But the brief survey did confirm what I’d known for years – recruiters spend an exorbitant amount of time on activities not directly related to filling jobs.

It’s worth asking the question in your business – how much time do you think your recruiters spend not directly filling jobs, and what’s it costing your business every week?

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