3 Keys to Building Collaborative Relationships With Hiring Managers


The relationship between a recruiter and a hiring manager is an interesting one. Both roles are necessary to making a strategic and suitable hire, but it's not uncommon for recruiters and hiring managers to be misaligned – or, worse, in outright opposition to one another.

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The hiring manager is the subject matter expert; they know the skills and character traits that best fit the team and the role. The recruiter understands the current talent market, the company's budget, and how to find someone who meets the role's criteria at the right price.

Together, the recruiter and hiring manager should be able to land a high-performing employee who thrives in the company culture. When the relationship is off, however, a lot can go wrong.

How Misalignment Happens

Recruiters understand the talent acquisition ecosystem, which means they know just how competitive it can be to source and hire certain professionals. They also have direct access to the company's talent pipeline, so they know what kinds of people are interested in the organization. When hiring managers lack insights into the market and the pipeline, they may set unrealistic hiring expectations, demanding too much while offering too little in the way of compensation. This inevitably leads to fewer interested applicants, longer times to higher, and more expensive hiring processes.

Without the hiring manager's guidance, the recruiter may not have a deep understanding of the position and team. As a result, the recruiter may bring in candidates who do not have the right skills, competencies, or attitudes to thrive in the role. The recruiter's lack of domain-specific knowledge may also drive away talented candidates through misused terminology, vague job descriptions, and other faux pas.

All that said, finding the right balance between the hiring manager and the recruiter is possible. You just have to do a few things:

1. Begin the Process as a Team

Because hiring managers have to handle their normal job duties in addition to the hiring process, it's not uncommon for them to sit out the initial stages of recruitment. In some cases, the hiring manager isn't introduced until as late as the second round of interviews.

While this arrangement might work for many entry-level jobs, the hiring manager needs to be involved with positions requiring more complex skill sets or expertise from the very beginning. If not, great candidates may be turned away while less suitable ones advance further than they should. All in all, that could mean a waste of time for both the recruiter and hiring manager.

Instead, the hiring process should be a team effort starting with the very first steps and carrying on through the end. In fact, collaboration should begin with the job description itself.

2. Lean on Analytics

Hiring managers and recruiters can benefit from hiring data in numerous ways. For example, recruiters should always sharpen their knowledge of the relevant talent acquisition ecosystems by researching the market to see what similar roles are being advertised and what competitors are offering.

By understanding the median pay expectancy and projected growth for a given role, both the recruiter and the hiring manager can get a better idea of what professionals in the field expect from employers. Moreover, the hiring team might be able to better predict how difficult it will be to source qualified candidates and set expectations with overworked hiring managers accordingly.

The best predictive analytics, however, are internal. For example, a company's historical hiring data can point recruiters toward the richest sources of talent. Other metrics can help recruiters and hiring managers identify the qualities of candidates who are likely to be good cultural fits. There are additional quality of hire metrics recruiters and hiring managers should track and analyze as well.

3. Support Specialized Training

Recruiters specialize in finding talented people, creating positive candidate experiences, and assessing which candidates are best to interview. Hiring managers know their jobs, their fields, and what it takes to be successful on their teams. When the balance is right, this formula leads to the best hires. When recruiters and hiring managers are misaligned, it only causes chaos.

The solution is to push for more training and development for both parties, but especially recruiters. While a recruiter may have never so much as looked at the course description for a software development class, they may still be expected to sell roles to experts in the field. A well-rounded recruiter should be able to talk competently about the industry and position for which they are recruiting. Otherwise, talented candidates may be turned off.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with training hiring managers on the realities of sourcing, recruiting, and managing talent pipelines, either. With a basic knowledge of these pieces of the process, hiring managers can build deeper connections to qualified candidates and help promote a positive employer brand.

Depending on the size of your organization, the hiring team might face numerous obstacles to obtaining highly qualified candidates. Everything from an overwhelmed hiring manager to a divided recruiting team can result in a lackluster hire. Collaboration between recruiters and hiring managers is key to an effective hiring process.

A version of this article originally appeared on the ClearCompany blog.

Sara Pollock is head of the marketing department at ClearCompany.