Human Resources Blog - Spark Hire

What We Learned: How Flexibility Increases Recruiter Productivity

Spark Hire’s Partnerships Manager, Jeremy Tolan, recently sat down with Bullhorn APAC’s Account Executive, Rita Badin, to discuss how to remain strategic and productive with your recruiting process by remaining flexible. We’re bringing you a recap covering all that we discussed during the webinar. 

With 2021 in full swing, the majority of recruitment agencies are ready to take what they learned in the past year and use it to grow their relationships – and business – in 2021. In order to maximize your productivity and enhance your client and candidate experience it’s important for you to recognize recruitment trends for the new year, strategize for DEI hires, lean into mobile recruitment, and build out your tech stack. 

Candidate Experience

A main focus for many recruitment firms in 2021 is improving the overall candidate experience. Namely, how to keep the candidate engaged, how to encourage candidates to work with you exclusively, and how to remove roadblocks in your current process to promote productivity. In fact, based on the data collected by Bullhorn’s 2021 GRID research, of the top five priorities listed by recruitment firms for 2021, candidate acquisition/sourcing was number one at 56%. 

As such, there’s a noticeable change in how recruitment leaders are approaching candidates and customers and re-aligning their business strategy around engagement. For example, many firms have stripped back their objectives to ensure their business and technology strategies are aligned for right now and the next 3-5 years. A move toward automation software has helped consultants more effectively engage with candidates. Recruiters now send automated email templates and text messages that are used to communicate with candidates and clients at different points throughout their process. This has helped them remain engaged with a growing pool of candidates without letting their recruitment process linger. It’s also resulting in quicker feedback from their clients, which has increased placement speeds.

Agencies have also been helping their clients create competitive advantages through employer branded content, including how they craft the information in job descriptions, emails to candidates that include pictures of the team that candidates would be joining as well as links to social media or articles about the client, and sending videos to candidates throughout the recruitment process. Candidates are prioritizing company culture in their job search decision-making more than ever, so it’s imperative to illuminate your client’s company culture from the beginning. These personal touches help promote investment with the candidate earlier on in the recruitment process. 

Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion

With DEI being top of mind for most organizations, it’s necessary for recruitment agencies to adjust strategies to better support these initiatives. Recruiting diverse candidates isn’t necessarily more difficult than recruiting generally, but it does require companies to be very intentional about how they source, screen, and hire candidates. 

Start with eliminating gendered keywords in job descriptions, such as “support,” “affectionate,” “leader,” and “aggressive.” This small change can increase the number of applicants by 42%. Another avenue is actively tracking candidate sourcing by role using technology to understand where your candidates are coming from, and making sure you’re advertising in ways that will reach a larger pool of candidates.

Be strategic about building your pipelines with more diverse candidates. Research in the Harvard Business Review found that when a final candidate shortlist has only one minority candidate, that candidate has close to zero chances of getting hired. However, a “two in the pool effect” makes a tangible difference in overcoming unconscious biases and increasing diversity in the workplace.

Detecting Soft Skills

It’s undeniable COVID-19 caused a shift in focus to soft skills when screening candidates for role requirements. Now, there is a greater understanding of the best soft skills for new hire success, like adaptability, work ethic, and emotional intelligence. Detecting these key soft skills starts with the job description. 

Instead of listing necessary soft skills in job descriptions, you should craft your clients’ job descriptions so that they include specific examples as to why candidates will need to apply those top soft skills. This helps candidates more clearly understand expectations and casts a spotlight on the function of these soft skills rather than casting out keywords candidates can plug into their application materials.

When reviewing job experience in CVs, look for evidence of specific examples that make it clear how the candidate used each skill in each situation. The resume should demonstrate to you that the candidate possesses the necessary skills instead of merely telling you they possess them.

Structured one-way video interviews are one of the best approaches to screening for soft skills, as they are the perfect way to fairly assess how each candidate responds to the same question. For the best results for detecting key soft skills, remember to avoid questions that can be answered with a simple “yes” or “no,” use behavioral and situational questions, and ask questions based on the position’s soft skills.

Mobile Recruitment

Last year saw the recruitment industry undergo a huge shift to remote work, and that’s not going away anytime soon – if ever. In fact, 49% of the industry feel that a portion of their workforce will be permanently remote moving forward. 

In order to leverage this shift, agencies should start arming their teams with well-designed, integrated technology. Specifically, there’s been a huge uptake in automation software, providing recruiters an efficient and effective way to manage a large influx in their candidate pool. 

Now that open job roles are no longer restricted by proximity or location, agencies are able to recruit a stronger, more diverse talent pool. The flexibility of being able to recruit candidates from different cities, states, or countries has allowed agencies to better suit the needs of their clients’ hiring needs. 

However, When you’re faced with a larger talent pool that’s distributed throughout the country, you’re inevitably going to need to figure out ways to move candidates through your recruitment process at a higher rate, and faster than you have in the past. You’ll likely be running into more competition as well because your clients aren’t the only ones who are hiring candidates to work remotely, so it’s imperative that you also figure out ways to stand out to candidates and help your client differentiate themselves from other employers.

You’re likely already leveraging live video interviews to facilitate interviews with non-local candidates, but we’ve found that it’s equally as important to consider using one-way video interviews to help get candidates in front of your clients faster as they’re able to share a shortlist of video interviews with their clients as part of the submission process. Clients find these types of submissions much more engaging and they end up providing quicker feedback on candidates, resulting in increased placement speeds as well as submit-to-interview rates.

We’ve also seen agencies experience a ton of success by incorporating video into emails and InMails on LinkedIn when they communicate with candidates and clients. For example, when starting the search for a particular client, collaborate with them to come up with the unique selling points of the job or company. With their permission, create a video that showcases these unique opportunities to the candidates. At the end of the video, be sure to add a call to action instructing your viewers on what to do next. Publish the video on LinkedIn and ask your network to share/tag people who might be interested or know someone for the role.

Not only can this video be used to attract candidates on LinkedIn, but you can also utilize it in your outreach to candidates as a more engaging way to highlight the open role.

Building Your Tech Stack

Before you begin developing your tech stack, start by mapping out your customer journey step by step. Once you’ve mapped out your journey, focus on where technology can make the biggest impact.

Keep in mind that you’ll have a limited budget, and also won’t have the capacity to implement too much tech, so focus on what steps of your journey that technology can make the biggest impact and then expand from there.

When talking with vendors, ask for feedback they’ve gathered from candidates or case studies that reference feedback from clients. Focus on understanding how their software will enhance the key things that are going to make an impact on your customers i.e. what do response times look like? Can you measure and report on feedback? What about content engagement levels? Does the technology you use make you accessible? Is it easy for people to work with you?

To take this a step further and ask to speak with a customer reference where you can learn more about how the technology can help improve the client and candidate experience.


These are just a few examples of how you can build flexibility and productivity into your recruitment process. Now it’s time to pick a few of your favorite ideas and start developing a recruitment strategy that works best for you!

Jordyn Shelton

Jordyn works as a B2B Copywriter on Spark Hire's marketing team. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading a good book, attempting new recipes in the kitchen, bingeing a true crime show, or snuggling her dog Lou.