Recruiters and hiring managers are like peanut butter and jelly – except when the peanut butter wishes the jelly would have told her about that master's degree requirement before she posted the job.
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Okay, so the simile isn't perfect, but the fact remains that recruiters and hiring managers would, in an ideal world, work in tandem to find and keep the very best hires. In order to find the best people to fill a role, recruiters need to tap into hiring managers' knowledge and expertise. For hiring managers to keep holding down the fort and moving their teams forward, they need recruiters to listen when they are forthcoming with information.
In today's global economy, with its highly distributed workforces, this kind of collaboration can be more difficult than ever before. While we have technology that allows us to communicate instantly and across any distance, we also have barriers like time zones, endless meetings, and the misunderstandings that can arise when we don't get to communicate face to face.
However, there are steps you can take to make sure you are successful in working with hiring managers to get them the talent they need to keep their departments – and the company itself – running:
1. Meet With Hiring Managers Often to See How New Hires Are Performing and to Keep Track of New Hiring Needs
This may sound like a lot to add to your plate, but the fact is you and the hiring manager will probably have a lot to say to one another. Ask about how their most recent hire is doing and about engagement levels on the team.
You may also want to talk to them about encouraging their top performers and engaged team members to leave good reviews of the company on sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Ratedly. Positive reviews on these sites are very important to your employer brand and, by extension, your recruiting efforts. After all, 69 percent of job seekers won't take a job with a company that has a bad reputation. Urging hiring managers to send out monthly review requests is good for you and good for them.
What you should do: Get in the habit of sending a monthly email to your hiring managers asking about new hires and reminding them to encourage their team members to review your company.
In addition, you may want to revamp your intake process with candidates in mind. You're the recruiter. You know what candidates ask you, so ask hiring managers the same questions. Smart, passive candidates are likely to ask why the role is empty, what the team environment is like, and what they will spend their days doing. Get this information from the hiring manager ahead of time. Asking specific questions about skill level, daily activities, team members, and any other relevant background information will make recruiting for the empty role much easier.
If you haven't already, create an intake form with specific questions like:
- What kind of skills does a person need to be successful in this role?
- What is the background of your ideal candidate? What sort of jobs might they have held before?
- What is the current team dynamic? What personalities thrive there?
- Why is the role empty? Is it due to growth, or did someone leave?
2. Do Research to Understand the Roles You Are Hiring for and What Skills Are Actually Required
Great recruiters are always trying to learn more. Listening and communication skills are important qualities for every recruiter. If you don't start researching the position as soon as the req. lands on your desk, don't be angry with the hiring manager when they get frustrated about having to tell you rudimentary keywords to search.
How do you research a role? By reading industry blogs, looking through profiles on professional websites, and reviewing the last couple of projects completed by the hiring team.
What you should do: Look over similar roles across the country. Find out what frequently occurring terms mean and bring your newly minted glossary with you to ensure you understand what those terms mean at your company.
Figure out what is actually required for the role, and move the rest to a box to the left – just kidding! But it is important to differentiate between what the hiring team wants and what they actually need. A common desire is to try to replace all the skills of the person who just left or to fill all the deficiencies of the current team with one hire. This is a fool's errand for many recruiters and wastes time and money.
Ask questions about each requirement, like:
- Does everyone on the current team have an MBA? Why do you feel that is important?
- Did the last successful hire have an intermediate knowledge of Ruby on Rails? Could we train a beginner if necessary?
- Does this person have to work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. simply because the rest of the team does? Will a split shift or later start time cause harm to the team?
Asking probing questions about every need the hiring manager presents so you can widen the talent funnel and focus on as many great candidates as possible.
3. Set Expectations and Make Sure the Hiring Manager Understands the Hiring Timeline
Before working on a new requisition with a hiring manager, take a step back and swallow an empathy pill. Recruiters tend to work well under pressure, but that's not always true of everyone. Consider that until this role is filled, the hiring manager you're about to meet will be doing the work of two people and managing a team that is also chipping in to get things done. If you attempt to separate needs from wants and get pushback, this may be why.
Arm yourself with data. Show the hiring manager how much more quickly you might be able to fill the role if they are willing to train someone on QuickBooks versus hiring an expert. Show them how many project managers are available in your region who are not Six Sigma certified – yet.
What you should do: Let hiring managers know how long you anticipate the search to take based on the final list of requirements. If possible, print out screenshots of the criteria you have before this conversation to illustrate the difference between the timeline for hiring, say, a PMP-certified pro and the timeline for hiring someone who is re-entering the workforce whose credentials have expired.
4. Be Accountable and Expect Accountability in Return
Make it as easy as possible for hiring managers to give you feedback. Record feedback in your ATS, send an email, walk to their desk with a tape recorder in your hand – just do what you have to do to get hiring manager feedback or else you will be in bottleneck purgatory.
Set an ideal timeline for every step, and get the hiring manager's agreement before setting off to fill the role. Let your hiring manager know in no uncertain terms that if they cannot meet deadlines, the role will stay open even longer – and no one wants that.
What you should do: Again, your data tells a story. Look at what the hiring manager's timelines normally look like. If they are a two-week Timmy, you are not going to turn them into a four-day Frank overnight. Set reasonable deadlines they can actually hit.
The average new hire takes 27 business days, so as long as you both work to cut that number down, you should be on good deadline terms.
But what if your data shows the hiring manager is responsive and you're the cause of gridlock? Well, that's a whole different article.
A version of this article originally appeared on the LinkedIn Talent Blog.