5 ways to overcome recruiter burnout

May 18, 2022 Updated: September 18, 2023 8 min read

Have you noticed members of your recruiting team taking more sick days than usual? Or do they just seem disengaged from their jobs in a way that’s hard to put your finger on? These can both be signs of burnout—which is often the result of chronic workplace stress. 

Between a rapid shift to remote work, intense competition for candidates, and the demands of a fast-paced job, the perfect storm for recruiter burnout is gaining momentum. More recruiters than ever before are feeling increased stress at work—and organizations and HR managers alike need to consider how to manage this with care. 

In this article, we’ll explore what recruiter burnout is, share tips on how to spot the warning signs, and offer strategies to keep your recruiting team feeling on top of their game, every day. 

What is recruiter burnout?

Burnout has become so common that the World Health Organization (WHO) includes it in the International Classification of Diseases. It’s defined as an occupational phenomenon, or “chronic workplace stress that hasn’t been managed successfully.” 

Despite sharing similar characteristics, burnout and stress are not the same. Stress is a short-term response to external factors and involves the release of “fight or flight” hormones that help us respond to the situation at hand. This can cause short-lived physical, emotional, and mental reactions. 

Workplace stress can develop into burnout if it’s not properly recognized or managed. Over time, high-stress levels can gradually burn out recruiters. While stress typically creates a feeling of urgency and hyperactivity, burnout creates dulled emotions and feelings of hopelessness that can impact mental health and well-being.       

What are the 3 most common types of burnout recruiters experience at work?

Not all burnout is the same—burnout can be split into three broad categories. Knowing the difference between these can help you support your team and implement the right strategies to help them cope.   

Overload burnout

Dealing with a lack of qualified applicants during the Great Resignation—combined with the need to improve recruiting metrics and transition to remote interviewing strategies—can leave recruiters constantly feeling under pressure. Add the uncertainty of a global pandemic, and feelings of overload can soon set in. 

Under challenged burnout

While the recruiting industry can be challenging and fast-paced—it can also be pretty repetitive. Your team might be speaking to many different candidates, but the script stays essentially the same on a daily basis. Over time, this can start to feel monotonous, affecting the productivity, motivation, and mood of employees who enjoy more challenge and variety.   

Neglect burnout

This type of burnout can occur when an employee feels professionally helpless. Recruiters might feel unable to achieve their goals or lack the motivation to complete their tasks. Those suffering from neglect burnout may go from proactive and enthusiastic to passive and uninterested in their work.     

Primary reasons recruiters experience burnout in their roles

Recruiting is an intense process—especially in today’s ultra-competitive labor market. And while stress is a fact of life—it should be manageable. If a recruiter’s job-related stress goes on for months on end, burnout is increasingly likely. In recruitment, some of the main reasons that employees experience burnout include:

  • Broken or inefficient recruitment practices 
  • Too many responsibilities across different areas 
  • Lack of recruiting tools and resources 
  • Dealing with low unemployment rates 
  • High employee turnover
  • No dedicated recruiting team 

Considering how to reduce these sources of stress can be a good starting point for lowering recruiter burnout. And given the negative impact that recruiter burnout can have on employee morale, the candidate experience, and your bottom line, every company should consider steps they can take to reduce chronic workplace stress—before it leads to burnout.

Alarming burnout statistics companies should know

Employee burnout and mental health doesn’t just impact employees’ personal lives—it directly impacts their ability to successfully perform their job duties. Check out these statistics on how recruiter burnout can affect your people and your business: 

How to tell your recruiting team is burned out

Burnout is broadly defined as an ongoing lack of energy combined with increased negativity and decreased efficiency. But this can manifest itself in various ways, depending on each person. Here are clues that can give you a sense of whether your recruiters may be experiencing burnout:

Visible signs

  • High rate of sick days 
  • Mood swings 
  • Inefficiency at work
  • Short attention span 

Non-visible signs

  • Hypertension
  • Lack of exercise 
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Lack of motivation 
  • Lowered immunity 
  • Feelings of disillusion 
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Foggy thinking  
  • Emotional exhaustion or detachment 

5 ways managers can make sure their recruiters avoid burning out

Burnout isn’t inevitable—but like any other workplace hazard—it needs proactive management. Use these five strategies to ensure your hiring team has the support they need and decrease the chances of them suffering from burnout. 

1. Recognize the warning signs

The “Three R’s” approach is a useful framework for structuring your response to recruiter burnout and formulating individual plans to combat it. Here are the method’s three steps that can help you prevent, identify, and address burnout before it gets out of hand:

  • Recognize: Do you notice any signs of burnout in your team? For less visible, emotional signs, you may need to ask your team—or provide a survey for them to complete on their own time.
  • Reverse: How can you help your team manage these signs and feelings of burnout? The tips we’ve given below will help you frame your thoughts and create a plan.
  • Resilience: Helping your team create healthy habits can improve resilience to stress, manage the source of that stress, and address both their emotional and physical health.

2. Set SMART goals

Unattainable goals can lead to feelings of stress, or a complete lack of motivation, depending on our personalities. A better alternative is to set recruitment performance goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. 

Detailed, actionable goals can help break down what’s needed to improve those recruiting metrics like time to fill—and give recruiters a clear path for achieving this. If your team members are struggling with burnout, sit down with them and create a plan of action containing SMART goals. It’s also important to clarify that sometimes goals can’t be met for all kinds of reasons—the key then is to regroup rather than feel despondent.   

3. Leverage the right technology

Artificial intelligence (AI) and automated recruitment software can dramatically improve recruiting efficiency and reduce feelings of employee overwhelm. Find ways to optimize your recruiting tech stack to make your recruiters’ jobs easier—like using an Interview Intelligence platform like Clovers to streamline the interview process and conversational AI to transcribe candidates’ responses. Ask your team for their honest opinions on what tech tools they could use, and see if you can find ways to integrate these.  

4. Promote work-life balance

Burnout is affecting more recruiters than ever before. Those work-life boundaries can quickly become blurred, especially in a remote work environment where our home is essentially our office too. As a manager, find out how you can help your team create a healthy balance that places importance on the personal lives of your people, not just their performance. This will likely look different for every employee but may include things like getting enough sleep, turning off Slack and email notifications after hours, making time for self-care, and ensuring everyone understands they don’t need to feel “on” all the time.   

5. Support flexible, hybrid work

Many employees have made the transition to remote work—and find they’re more productive and happier working from home. Others may prefer to work with others in a traditional office setting. Allowing for hybrid work—where your employees can choose where and when they work—can improve employee productivity and satisfaction. Wherever your team is based, it’s worth reminding them to take lunch breaks, not allow tasks to overrun personal time, and find ways to prioritize their wellness.  

The future of recruiting and the hiring process is changing

Navigating today’s recruitment landscape can be challenging, and there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to recruiter burnout. But employers do have a duty of care to protect their people’s mental health and well-being. By proactively reducing workplace stress—and implementing recruitment technology like Clovers that can help your recruiters work smarter—you can help your team avoid burnout. And when recruiters are happy, they create a better experience for top candidates—and a more productive hiring process.  

Ready to make the hiring process easier on your recruiters?

Leveraging AI-powered recruitment technology can give your recruiting team the resources they need to keep burnout in check. Take Clovers’ Interview Intelligence platform for a spin to see how it can help your team hire top talent faster and more efficiently—without stress, hassle, or headaches. Try for free for 30 days

Jackie White headshot

Jackie brings over a decade of HR technology experience to Clovers. She’s passionate about helping companies build talented and diverse (dream) teams and delivering an incredible hiring experience to everyone involved.

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