How Many Roles Should a Recruiter Have per Quarter?

When asking recruiting leaders how they determine how much can one recruiter handle, the answers range from “it depends” to a set number from 10-30 to we work it out over time. The truth is that it does depend, it’s an unsexy answer, but you must look at the variables of the industry, the market, and the recruiting team’s strengths/weaknesses to answer the question with confidence.

Capacity planning is typically done weekly when roles are filled, and recruiters have the time or are treading water. Is it possible to pre-determine a reasonable number that your team should aim for taking into the fact that each role varies in difficulty?

The local talent pool has an undeniable impact on the candidate funnel, the company brand and reputation, skill level and network of the recruiting team, the hiring managers, as well as compensation and benefits to name a few.

My goal here is to propose a system in which one can assign weight to roles, while simultaneously determining how much weight one recruiter can carry.

Roles vary in difficulty, let’s quantify key differences

Recruiting teams are typically active on more than one role, in more than one market at any given time.

Step 1: What variables impact role difficulty?

  1. Market Supply – Total quantity of talent willing to provide services at price range during a defined period
  2. Market Demand – Quantity or talent a company or group of companies will hire at a given price
  3. Required Skill Set – Level of experience or knowledge needed.
    1. High Skills – experience or knowledge that has a high barrier to attainment or is especially valuable to the organization
    2. Low Skills – the lower barrier to achievement and more prevalent in most talent pools
  4. Employer Brand – Company reputation as a place to work attracting active and passive talent
  5. Network – Talent interconnected with your talent team or company
  6. Tenure Trends – Period to which talent stays with one employer
  7. Compensation and Benefits – What can you offer a candidate and how does that compete in the market, AKA the compensation strategy.

Focusing on the top 3 variables

Market supply & demand + desired skills from a specified talent market

Bucket roles into three categories: (1) highly challenging, (2) challenging, (3) straightforward

  • 3 = Highly challenging
    • Seeking expertise/mastery in a certain field and rare combination of competence in a competitive/scarce talent market
  • 2 = Challenging
    • Market Supply > Demand + High Skills – Seeking expertise in a surplus market
    • Market Demand > Supply + Low Skills – Seeking a low level of expertise in a scarce market
  • 1 = Straightforward
    • Market Supply > Demand + Low Skills – Low level of expertise needed in a surplus market
  • Plus 1 point for any role that requires relocation
  • Plus 1 point for an executive search

Example from an Agriculture-Tech Company

Market = SF Bay Area, looking for technical and non-technical talent to staff midsize agriculture technology company with limited brand recognition.

* Engineering Manager is counter-intuitive. Although the skillset you are looking for is “high” (years of experience, technical + people management), there are less overall engineering management roles available (lower demand), and a relatively high quantity of tech leads, senior engineers, etc. that have the skills to fill an engineering management role. Therefore, this is potentially easier to hire than a principal level engineer. If you are looking for an Engineering Manager with experience with Agriculture, you narrow the overall pool and increase the score.

What is the max score one recruiter can manage?

Indirect v. Direct tasks

This will vary for every team depending on the time a recruiter spends on direct v. indirect tasks

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  • Sourcing
  • Screening
  • Candidate communication
  • Process/pipeline management
  • The hiring manager and interviewing team management

In-Direct (support tasks):

  • Scheduling
  • Role posting
  • ATS organization and management
  • Employer branding

Understanding Your Recruiting Market

Using SWOT Analysis Framework to determine, in what markets do we have a talent advantage?

A SWOT analysis can be done at a high level overall for the company, by role, and by location if multiple offices exist.

For an example, let’s use an agriculture tech company with an office in California and Illinois. For the best results, perform one SWOT analysis for each location (where should we focus our hiring goals?) or each role (where are we most likely to make a high-quality hire in less than 40 days?).

  • Strengths – Where is your company differentiated in the market for talent?
    • Employer brand (we are known for a great work/life balance)
    • Mission (the work you do is impactful to society and refreshing to work for compared to other local companies)
    • Compensation Philosophy (competitive base salary + 401K matching + generous time off + office meals)
  • Weaknesses – Where are we at a disadvantage?
    • Competition for talent in metropolis markets (office in SF isn’t differentiated)
    • No equity provided (Talent wants “more than just a paycheck”)
  • Opportunities – where can we exploit our advantages?
    • Talent targeting a high base salary, stability, work/life balance
    • Mission-driven talent
    • Talent with a connection to agriculture
  • Threats – what could cause trouble?
    • Low tenure once an employee is hired due to no vesting schedule
    • Cost of living increases in metropolis locations
    • Low agriculture talent in metropolis locations

Another possible framework to leverage: Porter’s 5 Forces (substitute supplier for talent, buyer for a company). Note the unemployment rate of a market should be taken into consideration as that does impact the bargaining power of the supplier and buyer.

Putting It All Together

For a seasoned recruiter a max weight of 20 requisitions may be appropriate, while for someone ramping up, ten would be sufficient. The maximum amount of points and how positions are weighted would be up to the team, but hopefully, this is a framework that either helps you prioritize or at a minimum explain to the company why all roles are not created equal.

Sophie Roney is a recruiter and the founder of PickedUs, a talent acquisition, and coaching organization. She spent the majority of her career in the technology and agriculture industries specializing in engineering and product recruitment. Outside of work, Sophie teaches yoga and practices Spanish to prepare for her next trip to South America.