The Art of Planning


Planning is the most important aspect of leadership in recruitment. Among other things it gives purpose, creates a sense of control and minimises resource wastage/ maximises efficiency. In a buoyant market you can grow without a plan but would grow faster with one. As the market slows however planning becomes increasingly important and yet too many companies don’t prioritise it.


Why plan?

There are three principle reasons for planning.

  • Efficient use of resources – planning maintains focus ensuring that the management approach is consistent and that resources are allocated in a considered (not knee jerk) manner.

  • Staff retention – planning articulates to the team how the company is trying to evolve which in turn can help them understand how they can continue to progress at the company. It also helps them benchmark the company’s progress, minimising speculation and freeing them up to focus on their jobs.

  • Improved performance – targets do not hold good recruiters back but inspire them. For average recruiters they provide reassurance that they are delivering against what is expected.


Long term planning

Long term planning shouldn’t be daunting or overly time consuming but neither is it a question of plucking a number out of thin air. Here’s a summary of how to approach it:

  • Write down what you (realistically) want the company to be turning over in three year’s time and what you expect profit to be.

  • Next calculate how many staff you will need to deliver that turnover then estimate costs (salaries, commission, office costs, licences, insurance, marketing, etc) and check that your turnover / profit figures seem realistic.

  • Break this down into different desks (sectors, temp/ perm etc).

  • Next work back to your two year target. Identify how many staff you will need at the end of year two to deliver your numbers for each team in year three. Is that realistic given staff turnover? time spent hiring? cash flow? etc.

  • Next work back to your one year target from your two year target.

At this stage you ought to have for the end of each of years 3, 2 and 1:

  • A turnover and profit figure

  • Revenue targets for each team

  • Organigrams for the whole business


The one year plan

The one year plan should be more detailed with monthly plans setting out:

  • Revenue target

  • Cash flow projections

  • Hiring plans

From organisational planning to individual targets

The company’s monthly or quarterly targets should cascade to individual targets. If team ‘x’ needs to do £150k in a month, how does that break down between consultants? Consultants can then use their key ratios to calculate how many “jobs on” and how many interviews they need each month as well as what that equates to in terms of time spent on business development and candidate calls.