As 2022 ticked over to 2023, unfortunately, many of the recruiting challenges that plagued talent acquisition teams last year could not be left in the past. From candidate shortages to tight budgets, those looking to kickstart their recruitment process in the new year are still burdened with the problems that have made hiring so difficult over the past 18 months.

According to a global report by Monster, 9 out of 10 employers are struggling to fill open roles. 29% of employers report that skill gaps within their organisations are increasing year on year.

One thing that is abundantly clear is that hiring processes are inefficient, and this is one of the major causes of recruitment struggles. As we have noted before, top candidates are on the market for just 10 days. According to LinkedIn, the average time-to-hire in the UK is 41 days. This is where the disconnect lies – its simply taking many organisations too long, causing top talent to look elsewhere.

How can businesses improver their recruitment processes? Many are turning to the agile methodologies that have transformed software development and other processes over the last few decades. But what does agile working mean for recruitment? And how can talent acquisition teams best make use of these methodologies?

Let’s find out.

What is Agile Methodology?

Maybe you’ve heard of agile methodology, and maybe you haven’t. As with many other genuinely innovative practices, it has gone from being a fresh and revolutionary approach to a meaningless and misunderstood buzzword. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t still incredibly valuable in 2023. It just means that it needs to be properly understood. While it is increasingly being used in the context of recruitment, its roots are in software development.

In 2001, the Agile Manifesto of Software Development advanced a ground-breaking set of rules around processes, collaboration, and delivering value. The four main principles of Agile methodology are:

  • Prioritising the use of software rather than comprehensive documentation
  • Putting individuals and their interactions over processes and tools
  • Seeking constant collaboration – rather than negotiation – with stakeholders
  • Valuing how to respond to change over sticking rigidly to a plan

To put that more clearly, Agile Methodology is a way of managing projects by breaking that project down into several phases. These phases involve constant collaboration and iteration, with teams cycling through processes of planning, execution, and evaluation. In this way, it is more adaptable and flexible, delivering a better way of responding to changing needs and circumstances throughout the lifecycle of a project.

Atlassian defines Agile as:

“Agile is an iterative approach to project management and software development that helps teams deliver value to their customers faster and with fewer headaches. Instead of betting everything on a “big bang” launch, an agile team delivers work in small, but consumable, increments. Requirements, plans, and results are evaluated continuously so teams have a natural mechanism for responding to change quickly.”

It’s no surprise then, that the Agile Methodology has become more broadly accepted as a framework for project management outside of merely being about software development. Any project can be run in an agile way, which has seen everyone from marketing teams to HR adopt the methodology.

Agile specifically benefits small teams, which is why for many organisations, it can be very valuable for recruitment.

Let’s dig deeper into how it can specifically benefit recruiters.

Agile Methodology & Recruitment

As a report from Gartner observed in 2019:

“Talent acquisition today requires an agile recruiting approach that can anticipate and meet the changing needs of the business.”

Agile processes provide recruitment teams and hiring managers more flexibility to achieve more efficient ends by breaking projects into smaller tasks, allowing for consistent feedback and changing prioritisation.

The purpose of agile recruiting is to make the recruitment process more responsive to the needs of the business, and to mitigate the risk to the organisation. In the context of recruitment, risk is understood as relating to the overall quality of hire, as well as the cost-per-hire and other associated demands on resources.

More communication, smaller discreet tasks, and shorter and more specific timeframes allows recruiters and talent acquisition teams more definite goals and deadlines.

Agile recruitment can be broken down into three core components: process, teams, and technology. All three are necessary to truly recruit using an agile framework.


Using agile methodologies requires breaking tasks down into sprint intervals. This means assigning certain elements of the overall project to specific team members incrementally and setting short-term deadlines for the completion of those tasks.

As these sprints are completed, progress is reviewed, allowing teams to progress through the project while learning, iterating and correcting based on the outcomes of those tasks.


Selecting a team is crucial to the success of an agile project. Every member of the small team working in this way will be assigned certain roles and responsibilities to help drive the project towards completion.

In agile recruitment, these roles might include:

  • A hiring manager who understands the needs of the company
  • A project manager who has overall control of defining the processes and ensuring that tasks are completed on time
  • Recruiters and others involved in sourcing candidates, executing those processes and delivering against the desired outcomes

This is where the communication and collaboration comes in: teams are required to hold regular catch-ups where they can review progress and refine the workflows to achieve greater and greater efficiency.


This is probably the most crucial component for agile recruitment. Utilising the right technology is essential: not only does this help to drive efficiency, it also allows teams to make data-driven decisions at the right time.

For instance, an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) provides a treasure-trove of data and analytics, allowing businesses to get a view on what has historically worked and what hasn’t. Teams are then armed with insights that can impact the hiring process by helping recruiters understand things such as applicant conversion rates and uncover areas that need to be improved.

This, combined with the iterative nature of agile recruiting and working in sprints means that recruitment teams can respond quickly to changes and developments based on both real-time and historical data.

Recruitment software, like an Applicant Tracking System, also allows the recruitment process to become as simplified as possible. Instead of wasting time with manual processes, directly messaging candidates, or sending out onboarding materials, recruitment teams can automate a lot of these repetitive and time-consuming tasks.

The point of agile recruiting (and agile processes more broadly) is to maximise the amount of work that does not have to be done manually. That means automation needs to be prioritised wherever possible. An ATS is the best solution for this.

The Benefits of Agile Recruiting

As described above, adopting these agile processes can hugely benefit recruitment, allowing hiring teams to become more efficient, improving the quality of hire, time-to-hire, and candidate experience.

It creates a process of continuous improvement, allowing for consistent feedback and collaboration which can help teams overcome typical recruitment challenges by helping to identify bottlenecks, inefficiencies, and barriers that typically slow down the recruitment process.

This in turn lowers the cost-per-hire and allows teams to use their time and resources more efficiently.

A faster hiring process also means that candidate experience is improved, as candidates are not left in the dark, waiting on feedback or responses, as hopefully the kinds of barriers that lead to a lack of communication are eradicated. As a lack of communication with candidates can frequently lead to interview no-shows that further slow down recruitment, this is potentially another hurdle that can be easily cleared with agile processes.

Successfully implanting agile recruitment practices requires getting the right processes in place, empowering small teams to work through those processes, and investing in technology such as an ATS that can automate a lot of the manual work that can bog down recruitment efforts and easily provide the kind of data that teams need to continuously improve and iterate on any successes that have previously been achieved.

If you’re looking to adopt an agile recruitment strategy, you’ll need an Applicant Tracking System to provide the strong foundation that these processes and methodologies can be built upon. If you want to find out more about how Hireserve ATS can help upgrade your recruitment practices, book a demo today.

About the author

Tristan Potter

Tristan has a decade's worth of experience writing content and copy for organisations across Bristol and the Southwest of England. He has written on a diverse range of topics, including technology, philosophy, politics, and recruitment. His writing has appeared in The Drum, HR Grapevine, and The Guardian, among other publications. He joined Hireserve in March 2022.