Time management, planning and workload prioritisation are the cornerstones of any good recruiter’s process, however it is always the last part of the job that Recruiter’s focus on.
Having a good infrastructure means that you can be much more productive, proactive and successful as a result.

Building the infrastructure is easy but it does require you to spend a little bit of time away from the hustle and bustle of your daily routine to put it together properly

So firstly, there are a few tools which you will need to create:

  1. A day planner – Either hard copy or on the PC
  2. A daily ‘To Do’ list
  3. A daily lead tracker
  4. A notebook for all notes throughout each day
  5. Outlook folders to save email trails
  6. A ‘templates’ folder (for templates of email responses, adverts etc.)
  7. Groups for your candidates on the system
  8. Groups for your Clients on the system
  9. A clock – so that you can keep to time sensitive tasks throughout the day

Once these are in place you can begin building your infrastructure – So here are my top tips on time management and planning…….

  1. Plan your day – Make a plan of action each day of the tasks which you want to achieve. Use a hard copy diary or diary software such as Outlook to do this. Try and block out key times in you day for sourcing and BD (2 hours each for example) and then block out admin time after each one to ensure that you give yourself time to update the system, send emails, add reminders and call backs). Most Consultants will use 10 – 12noon and 2 – 4 as core phone time, and then wrap admin time around that.
  2. Day Planning Health Warning – Your day will change and your day plan which you create in the morning will need constant revision. Therefore, write it in pencil and buy a BIG eraser as it will need revision throughout the day, depending on what the day throws at you!
  3. Don’t get distracted – Don’t jump onto every email/call/task that lands on your desk – Compare it to the task that you are currently doing and prioritise it: If it is more important (closer to the money) than the current task, switch to the new task and move the current task to a new time slot. If it isn’t as important, add it to your ‘To Do’ list
  4. ‘To Do’ lists – Keep a separate ‘To Do list which stays on your desk every day. Plan it out each day and keep adding to it as you go through the day (see above). Put even the tiniest of tasks on these as these are normally the ones which you forget (or remember on the bus home, or in the middle of the night!). Take time during your admin times to complete tasks from the ‘To Do’ list and make sure that you get through it each day, or roll tasks over to the next day’s ‘To Do’ list
  5. Set yourself Objectives – Once you have blocked out key sourcing and BD times, set yourself objectives for based on what you want and need to achieve. These can include number of good candidates found, number of leads generated, referrals gathered etc. This way you have mini goals to work towards each day and can measure your success on an hour by hour basis
  6. Do BD in a morning – You will always find something else to do if you leave it until the afternoon!
  7. Keep a Lead Tracker – Make sure that every lead, every piece of KMI and every referral goes onto the tracker and is then added to the system during admin time and actioned during BD time…. Leads that get blown off the desk or behind the radiators won’t make you money!
  8. Write everything down – You are not Stephen Hawkins and as much as we like to think we have an encyclopaedic brain, we in fact cannot retain everything we say and hear in our heads – Make note of everything (either on the system or in a notebook, and make sure those notes get transferred to the system to be actioned.
  9. Plan your day the evening before! This is THE absolute secret to success and I’ll eat my hat collection if I’m wrong
  10. Prioritize your time based on the fillability of your vacancies – Work the jobs and candidates that you think you have the most chance of success with. It is important to remember that you cannot place everyone, or fill every vacancy so work jobs to fill and work candidates to place. If you find that you don’t have many really good fillable jobs, then it’s time to do BD rather than desperately trying to fill unfillable jobs!
  11. Your Candidates will ALWAYS feed your BD activity – Don’t waste hours googling target companies – Use your sourcing time to also gather leads and key market intelligence from candidates as this will then naturally feed your BD times
  12. Use Cheat Sheets – Create templates/checklists for every aspect of your job and have them to hand at your desk – Don’t waste time thinking of the next stage of the process or the next questions to ask a candidate or client, use these ‘cheat sheets’ as a quick aide memoire when on calls. Most recruiters only ask 70% of the questions needed during a call – By using cheat sheets you can ensure that you maximise every call that you make.
  13. Create a friendly candidate system on your database to easily source good candidates from within your network. Code your candidates up, add them to groups and maybe keep your own group of friendly candidates who you call for KMI every so often.
  14. Do the same for your Client groups too!
  15. Set Reminders – Use reminder systems on your database diary so that you don’t forget those follow up/check in/ update calls
  16. Death by Email Part 1 – Create folders in Outlook (on the left) to quickly refer to important emails, ad responses or client/candidate conversation trials – This saves time trawling through 1000’s of emails every time you want to find something
  17. Death by Email Part 2 – Don’t spend hours trying to word an email and then waiting around for a response – This wastes time and ‘Time Kills All Deals’. Instead, just pick up the phone, ask the questions, get the answers and then move on.
  18. Mark out a bit of time each day for ‘Fire Fighting’ – This time is good to clear your ‘To Do’ list, or to manage problems that have occurred and were not so important that they needed to be actioned there and then
  19. Stop spending time on trivial tasks – Don’t spend hours preparing a well-rounded email when a quick conversation will suffice. Don’t check your emails every 5 minutes: plan 4 key times in a day to go through emails (admin times)….. The average recruiter wastes “ HOURS EACH DAY by faffing or doing insignificant or irrelevant tasks…..Have a think about what you do each day to waste time ad change it
  20. Slow down – Productivity isn’t about going fast. It’s about doing the right things, in the right order, and getting them right first time….. Stop rushing around, driving too fast, cutting corners and getting upset at things you can’t control. A couple of minutes gained aren’t worth the added stress.
  21. Don’t procrastinate! – Wherever possible put the ‘horrid jobs’ at the beginning of the day, or near lunch break, and reward yourself with something once you complete the task.
  22. Simplify your life and control the flow – Plan for people to reach you some of the time during the day, not all of the time. Give candidates and client times to call you back where possible – Create blocks of time for inbound calls and reduce the volume of ‘phone call distraction’ throughout the day
  23. Have the courage to say no. Don’t try to please others all the time (and this includes candidates and clients). Create personal policies that make it easy to say no if you cannot help someone.
  24. Be Determined – Changing your life to become more planned and organised isn’t easy and it does take time to create this new habit…. It will take at least 3 weeks to get used to a new working process so stick with it and I guarantee that you will become a much more successful (and less stressful) recruiter by the end of it!


There are two kinds of recruiters who will read this advice…. One type will block out the time in their day to action these tips and to build a robust infrastructure as they appreciate that they need to invest time into putting this together in order to improve on their current practices and become more successful as a result.

The other kind will read it, get distracted by something else, shove it in a draw and rush off to continue working at 100 miles an hour in the same way as they did previously.

One of these types of recruiters typically bill in excess of £250k per year…. The other will be lucky to bill £50k

I’ll leave you to decide which is which….. And which one you want to be!