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A key to being a successful recruiter is thinking proactively. This often means forecasting hiring needs weeks (if not months!) in advance so you can begin to build talent pipelines for those planned openings. But if your organization is expecting to see a rapid growth in headcount, it’s also important to be proactive even earlier on in the process: You need to ensure that you’ll have enough recruiters to fill those positions.

At Stack Overflow, our sales team has been growing very rapidly. With the addition of 28 sales reps in 2013, the team more than doubled. We averaged just over one hire every two weeks. When we kicked off this sales growth stage, we only had one designated sales recruiter: Me. To top it off, in 2014, we were expecting to hire 50-60 additional sales reps and see a total head count increase of at least 100 employees. Looking at our rate of hire, in August of 2013 we realized that our recruiting team of two wouldn’t be sufficient, so we began sourcing for recruiters in both our London and Denver offices and eventually made two hires by December of 2013. Had we waited until 2014 to grow our recruitment team, we would have immediately found ourselves far behind this year’s hiring goals. Now, four months into the year, we’re right on track with our staffing goals, which is a good place to be.

Chances are, you already have someone responsible for the recruitment process—whether it’s a designated recruiter, HR specialist, or even the responsibility of the hiring manager. But this growth surge taught us the importance of planning ahead to determine whether your team’s rate of hire will be able to keep up with your future head count goals. If there is a discrepancy, you may need additional help. When you consider the amount of time it takes to source, hire, and onboard a recruiter in addition to the time it will take them to build their own candidate pipelines, you can see pretty quickly how a purely “reactive” recruitment approach can set you months behind your hiring goals.

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Think your staffing team may be running too lean for the hiring needs planned? Here are a few things to think about when you start looking to hire additional recruiters for your team:

1. Can you financially rationalize the need for an internal recruiter?

Define a target salary range for a new recruiter. Internal recruiters often specialize in certain areas, so the average salary for a creative/technical recruiter may be higher than a recruiter who specializes in sales/operations hiring. However, the salaries of the candidate’s that they hire also tend be higher. Typically, a 3rd-party agency will charge 15-20% of a placement’s 1st year salary, so if you’re hiring mid-to-senior level roles, it often quickly becomes clear that an internal recruiter is a sound investment.

2. How might your company benefit from hiring an in-house recruiter?

No matter how good a 3rd-party recruiter may be, they will never know the company or understand the culture as well as someone who is sitting in the office and working with the team on a day-to-day basis. As a result, an in-house recruiter who knows the ins and outs of your company can typically provide a better candidate experience. Because they are located on site, it’s also easier for them to facilitate the interview process, administer prescreening assessments, and handle rejections. An internal recruiter will be able to achieve a much higher interview-to-hire ratio because they will become accustomed to screening for both the tangible and intangible qualities that you look for in candidates. This individual can also serve as a subject matter expert to administer interview training to your team and refine/define existing processes.

3. What qualities should you look for when hiring a recruiter?

A recruiter can have a wide variety of responsibilities depending on the organization they are working for. Generally, in a larger corporate environment, recruiters have a very specific role to play within a staffing department. They typically focus on a single vertical and may have sourcers, coordinators, or university specialists supporting their pipelines. In a startup organization, the role is typically much less defined. A recruiter may be responsible for promoting the employment brand through social media, organizing networking events in the office, handling HR issues, sourcing and managing a diverse candidate pipeline, and scheduling/managing the interview process from beginning to end. In this case, it’s best to look for someone who has a proven ability to step outside their comfort zone and a “get things done” attitude so that they can adapt to the evolving challenges of recruiting within a startup.

Don’t let rapid growth catch you and your recruitment team off-guard. As your company grows, it’s important to look ahead when it comes to hiring needs so your organization stays on track and ultimately drives business success.

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