A Recruiter’s Guide to Headcount Conversations

With 2019 just around the corner, there has never been a more important time to get in front of headcount planning to ensure your team is prepared for recruiting success. But doing so often requires sign-off from your leadership team, which may or may not be able to assess how likely your team will be to hit future growth plans for your company. If you want to be prepared for your next headcount meeting to get the resources you need, it’s time to build conversations in terms of their return on investment (ROI). Use this cheat sheet to put your leadership team at ease, so you can crush recruiting in 2019.

Headcount planning meeting conversations

1. “I need extra budget for a better recruitment platform”

The right recruitment tech stack can improve your outcomes in a myriad of ways. It can improve productivity, so your talent acquisition team can use time more efficiently. It can improve your candidate experience, so you close more offers. And it can help you measure and track key performance indicators so you can optimize your limited resources.

How to back it up:

Provide your leadership team with information and data to support a better platform for your recruiting team and build the case for the investment. For instance, show the value of increasing scheduling efficiency, thereby improving your time-to-hire by role. Or, show your leadership team how much you spent on job boards, without being able to track whether they were responsible for a single hire.

2. “I need extra headcount on my talent acquisition team”

As companies grow, talent acquisition teams don’t always grow at the same rate. Recruiters are expected to fill more roles with the same talent acquisition headcount, and technology can only help so much. Recruiters reach capacity, and roles sit unfilled for too long—or fall into the hands of pricey agencies.

How to back it up:

Make a successful argument for talent acquisition team headcount by mapping your team’s capacity and velocity to your company’s hiring plan. Mike Bailen, Lever’s Vice President of People, has said that capacity is usually 8 to 15 non-technical roles, or three to four technical or niche roles, per quarter. He says that velocity is typically 3 months for management or technical roles, but that 30 to 45 days for less technical roles is possible. So if you need to fill more than 16 technical roles each year, with just one technical recruiter, bring your leadership team a projected agency cost to fill those extra roles, versus the cost of bringing on a full-time or contract recruiter.

3. “I’d like to get ahead of attrition by building redundancies”

Turnover is inevitable. The average employee tenure is 4.2 years, but is often much shorter in competitive markets. Strategic talent acquisition professionals understand their organization’s attrition rate, bake it into the hiring plan, and build redundancies for mission-critical roles.

How to back it up:

Michelle Weaver, CFO at Twitch, has said, “One of the things we like to think about on the finance side is the cost of an empty seat. The loss in productivity is really critical when you think about the number of days that it’s open, and what the daily revenue contribution and productivity of that individual might be.” While hiring ahead of attrition can double costs, it may be a better option than allowing turnover to create an open position.

4. “I’d like to make an investment in strategic recruiting initiatives”

Strategic initiatives, such as recruitment marketing, candidate experience, and proactive candidate sourcing, can help you attract and close higher quality talent. However, they do require an upfront investment in the form of headcount, budget, or both.

How to back it up:

Explain the value of these initiatives to your leadership team. Recruitment marketing helps you build your employer brand and attract high-quality applicants, often at a lower cost than traditional channels. Companies with a strong employer brand receive 50 percent more qualified applicants, have 1-2x faster time to hire, and see a 50 percent cost per hire reduction. It also helps you build a talent pipeline for future positions, so you have a headstart on filling them once they open. It may be powerful to share your time to hire, and compare it with an industry benchmark, so your leadership team can fully understand the importance of this initiative.

Final thoughts

At the end of the day, you and your leadership team both want to hit your hiring goals, so you can hit company growth goals. The key to getting the resources you need is to speak the language of ROI with your leadership team. Show them the value they will see from investing in talent acquisition—both within your team, and across the organization.

“CEOs and CFOs always focus on the sales pipeline. Are we going to hit our numbers on the quarter, are we going to deliver on the topline, and what does the pipeline look like to get there? I think it’s equally important and relevant that we’re looking at the recruiting pipeline. Ultimately that drives productivity and long-term shareholder value.” – Michelle Weaver, CFO at Twitch

Learn more about building a strategic talent acquisition function by viewing our on-demand webinar, Breaking Down Barriers: Taking Talent Acquisition from Reactive to Strategic