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Plan A World-class Recruiting Budget For 2019

End-of-year things like future budgets and strategy may seem far away. But before you know it, next year's plans will come due-so embrace the early bird approach and start thinking seriously about what your organization's 2019 will look like, recruiting-wise. If you're having trouble getting started, or figuring out the next steps, we've have the tips and strategies to help you start determining your recruiting needs and goals for next year.

Take a hard look at your current situation

As you start to build your budget, think about two things: (1) how recruitment fits into your organization overall, and (2) what you've achieved in recruitment this year. If recruitment has been an historically low priority for your organization, that can mean that you're primed for growth next year; but it can also mean that you'll have trouble getting buy-in for budgeting that growth. From the start, it'll be important to include data and close analysis to justify your recruitment spends. And thinking about what your company is doing now (or has done in the recent past) will give you a sense of what's working, and worthy of featuring in your budget for next year, and what's not working so well and can be pared back or cut to allocate resources elsewhere.

As you work on your assessment of where things stand, be brutally honest about what's working, what's not, and what you can reasonably expect as you plan for the future. The more realistic and data-driven your budget is, the better you'll be able to defend your budget when it's being reviewed and approved.

Here are the areas where you should focus your review:

  • What were your monthly costs associated with recruiting for the past year? Be sure to include ''hidden'' costs like technology licenses, staff resources, relocation fees or other costs associated with bringing recruits on board, or background check/candidate screening costs.
  • What was your monthly/quarterly cost-to-hire last year? Looking at each month's costs can help you figure out busy seasons, and potentially map out your costs for next year more efficiently.
  • How long, on average, did it take you to fill positions last year? This can help you spread resources accordingly. For example, if you officially hired the most people in June, but most of those candidates were on the radar for 2-3 months before that, you'll need to accommodate those pre-hire costs.
  • Which recruitment methods have yielded the highest success over the past year? This is where the brutal honesty part comes in. If social media led to the most hires, while paid job ads yielded underwhelming results, now is not the time to try to find the silver lining in the paid job ads. It's important to understand what should probably be reduced (or maybe even nixed) to maximize your resources moving forward.
  • Will you likely need to upgrade the tech you use to recruit? For example, social media costs may be low, but if you're going to seek a more comprehensive, programmatic approach to recruiting using an AI-enabled solution or other advanced technology, you should start anticipating the likely costs of onboarding new software or hardware. You don't necessarily have to commit, but by scoping out potential programs and getting cost estimates can help you get in the right ballpark.

Sitting down and organizing your thoughts around your past year will help you refine your needs and goals for next year's budget.

Crunch the numbers

Once you have a larger idea of what your recruitment plan is for the next year, it's time to start putting numbers behind it. This is always a challenge-unless you're blessed with psychic ability, you can't predict the future with total accuracy. But you can make educated guesses based on where you've been and start reaching out to people in your organization to see what they anticipate for the coming year. Are some departments planning to expand? Are temporary staffing needs in the cards for a particular project or initiative? Department heads can give you the context you need to anticipate resources.

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If you have a passion for creating and using your own statistical methods and metrics, great. If not, don't worry-there are resources that can help you, like these existing formulas and templates.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to have in your pocket for budgeting season:

  • Hires per month. This is simply the number of hires you made last year. From this, you can determine patterns and create estimates for next year.
  • Average time-to-fill. By understanding how long the recruitment process typically takes for your organization, you can make more realistic estimates for next year.
  • Cost-per-hire (CPH). You can calculate this by using the basic formula CPH = recruiting costs/total number of hires. The costs should be both internal (staff resources, employee referral programs, background check fees, etc.) and external (advertising, outside recruiter fees, etc.).

Using these metrics, you can sketch out what the next year might look like, on a month-by-month basis. Compare your monthly snapshots to last year's budget-was it on target? What adjustments ended up being made throughout the year? And if this is the first time you're creating a budget for recruitment, these metrics will give you the necessary baseline you need.

Expect the unexpected

Remember the part about not being psychic? This is where you build some room into your budget for needs that crop up throughout the year. If you're planning for growth in your team, estimate how many staff members you'll need, what their salaries will be, bonuses, etc. If you ended up losing staff or resources throughout the year that will likely need to be replaced or rebuilt, make sure you're factoring that into your 2019 budget above and beyond your baseline numbers.

Show the paper trail

To get the most buy-in for your budget, show exactly where the money is going. And wherever possible, highlight any related successes. For example, if you came in under budget on social media outreach last year, but it led to more hires, point that out in your 2019 budget. If you're budgeting for growth in your team because you had a successful recruiting year last year, emphasize that. By showing what you've spent on different parts of the budget (like advertising, recruiting events, employer branding) and showing the results, you'll be able to make the case for maintaining (or increasing) that budget for next year. Concrete data gives people a reason to buy in to your projected budget.

With data on your side, the budgeting process can be less painful than it might otherwise be. It also gives you an important reflection point to think about what you've accomplished over the past year, and what needs more attention and resources over the next year. The more information you have at your disposal, the more you're future-proofing your 2019 budget and ensuring that you have the resources you need to maintain and build.

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Kate Lopaze

Kate Lopaze is a writer, editor, and digital publishing professional based in New York City. A graduate of the University of Connecticut and Emerson College with degrees in English and publishing, she is passionate about books, baseball, and pop culture (though not necessarily in that order), and lives in Brooklyn with her dog.

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