Recruiters and hiring managers’ shared goal is to fill positions with top talent. So why do they often end up frustrated with each other? Most often, it’s because hiring managers and recruiters have different perspectives and approaches when it comes to hiring. The most important thing to realize is that the only person you can change is you. So as a recruiter, you need to take on the responsibility to be a guide, to provide value by serving to help the hiring manager succeed, and in doing so, create a spirit of partnership. How can you do that? Here is some guidance to help you forge a more successful working relationship with hiring managers.
See through the hiring manager’s lens. What do hiring managers want? To hire the best person to join their team, who will help them achieve their business goals. Unlike you, talent acquisition is not the entire focus of their day. They are busy managing their existing team and projects and have to fit in hiring around their workload. Hiring managers see through the lens of what went wrong (if anything) with the last person in the role, and what the new person can do better (and they can always do better). They look at their team and evaluate how the new hire will improve workflow and propel them toward greater success. As such, hiring managers start with a “if you could have your ideal candidate, what would that person exemplify?” mindset when they consider who the “right” person should be.
What’s wrong with this? Well, nothing, in and of itself. What happens though, is that these ideals often get translated into the job description and before you know it, the requisition requires experience and competencies in a candidate that far outweigh the salary budget. It’s a recruiter’s nightmare. How do you recruit rock star talent (already earning top salary) and expect them to take a pay cut to work at your company? What do you have to sell them that would convince them to do so?
What’s the solution? Do some compensation research and talk through what the hiring manager truly needs. If she believes she needs a rock star with top salary, then she has two choices: 1) reevaluate the position to see if it could be reworked to require less experience, or 2) offer to take your research with her to her boss and present a case for why the position is worth the extra salary. In either case, you are there to help her succeed and help her navigate the current realities of the talent market.
Educate hiring managers on the state of the talent acquisition process. Just because someone is nominated as the hiring manager, doesn’t mean he has experience interviewing or making a selection decision. Hiring managers don’t keep tabs on external talent. Many hiring managers simply do not realize that, unlike in 2010 when people were counting their lucky stars just to get an interview, the market has changed so that companies are the ones counting their lucky stars just to be able to interview top talent. Few hiring managers truly understand that if they approach an interview with the attitude that the candidate is desperate for a job, they’ll lose that candidate to a more in-tune competitor.
What can you do? Meet with hiring managers to get to know their experience and comfort level with the hiring process. Build a relationship with them. Educate them as a peer on the state of the talent market, what the market competition is, and what they can do to shift their mindset to one where they sell the candidate on the great opportunity to work for the company and more specifically, for them. Help them think through questions like: Why should the candidate want them as a boss? Why would the candidate want to be part of their team? What does the company offer that is better than Company XYZ? If all job responsibilities were equal, why their company/job
Set them up for hiring success. As we’ve said, hiring is not the only thing on the mind of hiring managers. Which is why they don’t always realize that time is of essence. Hiring managers who still believe that candidates are just lining up at the door, crossing their fingers that they’ll get to interview, see time as something to manage to their convenience. They also don’t always know how to refine interviewing to create a great first impression with candidates. Hiring managers tend to use the same interview script, which ensures each candidate provides responses to the same questions, so they can compare apples to apples. But while there are some standard questions you want answered, this approach takes on too much of the “you need us to give you a job” mentality. Mindset and time management are two things that have a huge impact on hiring success.
The solution? As we mentioned earlier, educate hiring managers on how the market has changed. Give them some tools and if necessary, training, to help them feel confident in selling the company and their personal brand as a potential boss. Ditching the interview script and having a conversation may be far more effective and also help differentiate the interviewing experience at your company. Along with the change in mindset, help them realize that time matters. Reviewing resumes, scheduling interviews, conducting interviews (without rescheduling them!), providing feedback to recruiters – all of this needs to be done as fast and as streamlined as possible. Top talent doesn’t have time to wait. They are fielding competitive offers and interviewing multiple companies at once. As hiring managers realize this, they can adjust their priorities accordingly.
In addition to these three key areas, open communication, establishing a mutual understanding of expectations, regular check-ins, and above all, valuing hiring managers as human beings who are under a ton of stress and who appreciate support and respect go a long way to developing a positive and successful partnership.