Chapter 2: Lean Just-in-Time Recruiting


We cannot talk about Lean without Just in Time. In recruiting, human capital supply chain activities transform relationships and data (as responses, resumes, social networking profiles etc) into candidates that are delivered to hiring managers.

The primary focus of Lean is creating more value with less work, and considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customers.

Activities that don’t add value or are unproductive are wasteful. Having a good understanding of the hidden wastes inside of the recruiting process will aid in your appreciation of what Just in Time recruiting is designed to accomplish.

If it doesn’t add value – it’s a waste. There are 7 wastes identified by Lean and I think that overproduction, inventory, defects, over-processing, and waiting are among the most rampant in recruiting.

1)      Overproduction:-

Overproduction is production ahead of and in excess of demand. In sourcing and recruiting, overproduction happens every time you attract, identify and engage more candidates than needed to deliver to your customer. Traditional proactive candidates pipelining ahead of actual hiring need almost always leads to overproduction.

Posting jobs online also leads to overproduction, because more people apply than can be realistically processed. Many companies don’t even attempt to respond to all applicants, while others will send an automated reply. If you get so many responses that you can’_rfpy1 just reply to them all or have to resort to auto-responders, isn’t that a clue that it is wasteful process?


2)      Inventory:

In recruitment your candidate pipeline is your inventory. More specifically your work in process candidate inventory.

Work in process is a production/ supply chain concept, used to describe “unfinished” inventory in a process; this inventory is “either just being fabricated or waiting in queue for further processing or in buffer storage.  

These are candidates that are waiting on further processing (interviewing, networking etc), and the vast majority remain in process. In other words, a relationship is maintained with them indefinitely, as the vast majority of these candidates never become a “finished product” (are never hired)

Lean thinking would tell us that the time and effort expended to maintain a work in process inventory of pipelined candidates is pure waste.

Let’s not pretended we don’t know what happens to those candidates when the positions you pipelined them forget filled by other candidates, never get approved or never become available. We are all also painfully aware of the perishable nature of work in process candidate inventory. People do not remain recruitable.


3)      Defects:-

According to Lean, a “Defect” is something that does not conform to specification or expectations.

When it comes to recruiting, _Rfis1 am not suggesting that the people themselves are defects; however, the candidates that are sourced, contacted, screened, and with whom a relationship is maintained that do not ultimately match the actual hiring need are defects of the recruiting process.

Defects arise whenever job specifications and requirements change from forecast, rendering pipelined candidates no longer qualified, or when candidates are no longer interested, available, or when their motivators change way from your opportunity.

Forecast never perfect; they cannot be. Positions and requirements change, and people don not stay interested or available forever.

A large number of defects are caused by posting jobs online.

Yes, _Rfis1 know you probably think  I am crazy to question job posting; but it is the dirty little secret of recruiting and it is a global phenomenon.

We all know that a huge percentage of people who respond jobs online do not meet the basic qualifications of the positions they are applying for. The fact is, posting jobs result in a very high number of defects applicants who do not meet the basic qualifications.\


4)      Over- Processing:-

Engaging, screening and building and maintaining relationship with candidates that will never ultimately be submitted to a client/ manager in consideration for an interview can be seen as performing more work than necessary and be classified as over processing.

Your hiring managers don’t actually require you to maintain relationship with a large number of people who likely no longer be available or interested or even qualified when you actually have a need.


5)      Waiting :-

Lean defines the waste of waiting as any time that something is held in wait of the next production step.

In most recruiting process, a large part of a candidate’s life is spent waiting forward in the process. Most candidates that respond to a job posting or are contacted by a recruiter are never advanced past an automated response (at worst) or the relationship maintenance phase (at best).

Any candidate that doesn’t actually progress through the hiring process is essentially stuck in a permanent holding pattern; indefinitely waiting.


One May Ask; What is Just-In-Time Recruiting?

Now that you have a good understanding of what lean is all about, let’s focus on concept of Just in Time.

Just In Time (JIT) production is a pull based production strategy that is also called Toyota Production System.

A critical Lean concept, Just in Time strives to enable companies to react to specific demands with agility and speed with the goal of producing the exact product that a customer wants, when they want it, in the amount they want.


Applying this concept to talent acquisition, Just in Time recruiting is a pull based strategy of providing hiring managers/ clients with candidates that exactly match their needs, when the want them, in the amount they want.

A fundamental principle of Lean is demand based flow production, In this type of production setting, inventory is only pulled through each production centre when it is needed to meet customer’s order. In Just in Time recruiting, recruiter only contact, screen and submit candidates in response to a client’s order these processed candidates are pulled through the recruiting lifecycle based on actual demand.


When properly executed, a recruiter can source, contact, screen/ interview candidates and submit the best to a hiring authority for consideration within 24-48 hours of being given the “green light” for a specific position; all without having traditional pipelines of candidates that have been “kept warm”.


Being more innovative in sourcing and recruiting can give you a sustainable competitive advantage by enabling you to find and hire more of the right people who can drive innovation throughout your entire organization.