With 10-plus years in recruitment marketing, I’ve helped many clients hit lofty goals launching new employer brands, career sites and campaigns, or addressing the universal need to reduce cost per hire and time to fill. Time has always played a huge role in our success, both in the planning and execution.
If you’ve recently thought, “How in the world am I going to get all this done?” here are 5 tips to make time your ally (without requiring you to build a time machine).
1. Time likes a plan
Have a plan and share it. I’m going to assume you have established the goal (if not, see my very wise colleague’s post here on where to begin). The plan helps you map out how to go from theory to action, check for any areas (risks) to flag, and pad time in case of emergencies. Ask key stakeholders if they have any conflicts with the timeline, especially as it relates to their specific approval deadlines.
Pro Tip: It’s not enough to simply have the timeline, resources and budget in your plan. Quality will come by outlining how and when you’ll measure progress – with responsibility on the owners for accountability.
2. Stay in touch
Things can change at any moment, or sometimes new requirements are added with no fault of anyone. To keep on track, prevent misunderstandings (and thus setbacks), and adjust to the project needs. There should be a regular cadence of status meetings. Attendees can vary, but a good rule is to have representation from all key stakeholders so that relevant information can get back to the larger group involved. Key topics to highlight:
- Short-term deadlines
- Changes in scope
- Resources needed
- Call-outs that connect the dots (understanding impact to all the moving parts is a big time- saver)
Everyone should walk away knowing where the project stands, and what each person needs to accomplish before the next check-in. Frequency depends on the project scale, but I wouldn’t let more than two weeks pass. Thirty minutes should suffice. This meeting is not about hashing out details, it’s to ensure alignment and make expectations on ownership and deliverables clear.
Pro Tip: We use a WIP (Work-in-Progress) document that organizes the list of projects and tasks, with status updates made by the assigned owners as a visual to guide the call. (Try using a Google doc to centralize access and updates).
3. Use your morning for big-time items
Admittedly I’m guilty of knocking off the easier to-do list items before tackling the behemoth that is stubbornly not going anywhere and is only getting heavier. We have to overcome this tendency and commit to the big guy first. I block off my calendar, typically earlier in the day, to tackle what at times feels insurmountable and needs a solid hour or two of brain power.
It’s like working out; the idea of putting on your sneakers for a run is the last thing you want and yet upon returning from a jog you are thankful you made it happen. We need to first schedule these tasks and then make them happen before the small stuff. This could include writing a strategic brief, business plan, report, etc. You need uninterrupted head space, and ideally this happens first.
Pro Tip: Consider an offsite or different location to ensure complete focus and help give you inspiration. I will use an open conference room or maybe work from a coffee shop that morning.
4. Give it time
Normally I am all about real-time data, having instant answers and access to information for how our campaigns are delivering. These reports have their time and place. When it comes to recruitment advertising, sometimes the best thing you can do is give the strategy a chance to work.
If we prematurely optimize the media, or switch up the content messaging before we truly know how our candidate audience is reacting, we are putting thousands of dollars at risk and could ultimately add unnecessary time-to-fill because of too much change.
Perhaps the data needs a chance to settle to ensure integrity, the creative novelty needs to wear off to really understand if perceptions are changing, or the process takes a few months before the real KPIs come to fruition (think time to fill at 60-90 days). It has taken me six months or sometimes more than a year to fully understand the ROI on some projects.
Measurement discussions should happen in your strategy phase, including how and when you’ll be able to share data to inform your leadership on the progress. Giving time to make traction before implementing rash changes could end up saving you time and money in the end.
Pro Tip: Taking the above advice on staying in touch, be sure you keep track and communicate the trends or insights on progress. For example, you can frame early data as showing the expected uptick in website traffic and that you predict conversions to start happening in 30-60 days.
5. Be your own time machine
Imagine being able to apply all the lessons learned at the onset of the initiative. That feeling of “if I could just go back in time” is one we’re all familiar with. You can and should draw on ghosts from projects past, and ask all team members to voice one or two learnings in the kick-off so that you do everything in your power as a group to get it done. For now, be your own time machine.
Pro Tip: Hold an “I wish we would have” hypothetical discussion, using all the tools and history of your team. This will save time through knowledge sharing and the inevitable good ideas that surface.
Follow these tips and you’ll start to see how time can work in your favor. I suspect you’ll not only make progress with completing your initiatives, but I have a sneaking suspicion you’ll become a role model for time management itself. And just maybe you won’t care about that time machine anymore.