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Why Are You Working More Than 55 Hours/Week? (And How AI Can Help)

Adrian Dixon

October 10, 2018

How does AI improve work-life balance?

Research has shown that about 55 hours of work per week is a hard ceiling on productivity.

We’ve probably all had weeks where we did work more than 55 hours and we’ve probably all had weeks where we didn’t, but told everyone we did (being “busy” is often glamorized in office settings). Interestingly, in the eyes of actual research, a person who works 54 hours/week is roughly as end-goal productive as someone who works 80 hours/week. Since we all want more time with friends, family, and Netflix, let’s look a little deeper into that gap.

What’s taking more than 55 hours/week for talent acquisition?

Recruiters spend a lot of time on a surprisingly small amount of tasks, including phone calls, resume screening, and scheduling interviews.

Some estimates find 60-70% of a recruiter’s day is spent on tasks of that nature. Think about that: that’s 6 of every 10 minutes in a given workday. If you’re spending that much time on something, it needs to be more value-add.

Now add in problematic relationships between hiring managers and recruiters. Unfortunately, this is still more common than not.

In addition to spending time on these tasks above, many talent acquisition professionals have to spend another large chunk of their day simply getting clarity around open headcount positions.

Add this all up and the majority of a recruiter’s week is spent on tasks of limited to moderate value.

Hiring is essential to any business. People are the greatest value a company has. You need great people. That’s the whole concept of “the war for talent.”

But if recruiters aren’t spending their time in a valuable way towards the acquisition of talent, what can be done?

How tech will help

Tech will never replace recruiters entirely (at least not in the lifetime of anyone reading this), because recruiting is still a human-to-human profession that requires understanding context and career arcs. Instead, let’s take a look at some strategies and technologies to help reduce repetitive recruiting tasks and make time for enjoyable, high-value work.

Tools that could help TA professionals:

Automate rediscovery

High-quality candidates that applied in the past are often overlooked because of sourcing approaches centered around new candidates. What if you could connect with your existing databases to automatically source top candidates and bring them directly into your new job req?

These tools can essentially put your pipeline on auto-pilot and have helped companies reduce time to hire from 34 days down to 9. It’s often called intelligent rediscovery.

Automate screening

What if you merged your pre-existing performance data with millions of past hiring decisions? In this context, every action you take — whether it’s dismissing a candidate or bringing them into an interview — will now impact future decisions. The machine learns (machine learning!) from your past actions.

Your system gets smarter. Your time to fill reduces. You avoid candidates falling through the cracks. Candidates are screened and shortlisted instantly, so you know exactly who to contact first. Good news: this is already possible. It’s called artificial intelligence for screening.

Automate top of funnel communication

One of the biggest complaints from applicants, on every single candidate experience survey, is lack of communication. Some call this “the candidate black hole,” and it happens largely for two reasons: the ATS can’t handle the amount of resumes being received or isn’t set up to communicate with every applicant, and recruiters are too busy on other tasks.

Tech and automation helps here too: companies are beginning to use chatbots to improve candidate experience and boost enagement.

Now that you have more time, what should you do?

Ah-ha! The eternal question. In addition to improving work-life balance, some of the best answers for recruiters:

Building proactive pipelines

If your company rolls out a new road map and it requires a personalization expert to get it going, you now are on the clock to find a personalization expert. So, what do many of us in talent acquisition do? Hit the job boards, LinkedIn, etc.

But the best personalization experts you could get for this role are likely already gone, because they’ve already been in discussions with recruiters who are ready to pounce when they have approved headcount.

The best recruiters — and on the agency side, the ones who tend to generate the most money — build proactive pipelines. They email candidates when they don’t have a position. They work trade shows. They work hotel bars at conferences. They lean on people they’ve placed before to find A-level colleagues, and then take them to coffee or lunch. They are always building out relationships pre-role. Then, when the role is available, they know who to go to. They save tons of time on screening and sourcing activities in this way. They jump ahead several levels.

The project manager that needs the hire is happy. Whoever controls the budget is happy. Everyone is happy.

Thinking more strategically

What are different departments going to need in a few months? A few years? How could the transition from hire to onboarding be more effective? How are we within the local, state, and national market on comp?

Are hiring managers defining roles clearly? Where are people exiting the recruiting process? Is our ATS too complicated and not intuitive for a candidate? What are people saying about us on Glassdoor and what do we need to be changing internally around that?

Good recruiters — and ones who get the “seat at the table” in bigger discussions about strategy and budget — ask those questions and work on solving them. That’s how they spend a chunk of their time, because that means you’re future-proofed. You know the potential blind spots and you have a plan.

Tech is a tool

Tech isn’t going to solve every problem you have on your TA team, no. Some will still exist. Let’s be realistic there. But can it impact processes and time management and get recruiters focused on more strategic and proactive work? Yes. AI will reduce the late nights in the office sending out calendar invites, trying to schedule calls or catch up on resume screening. AI will improve productivity and in the long term, improve quality of hire. This is true and sustainable future-proofing.