5 Ways Hiring Managers Fall Short on (Working With) Recruiting

October 4, 2013

I have observed too many hiring managers do a sub-par job of recruiting, often delegating too much and bossing recruiters around instead of strategically partnering with them.

In the last few years, corporate recruiters have mastered new tools and disciplines – social sourcing, building online talent communities, talent branding, etc. It’s time for hiring managers to up their game too, contribute more actively to the hiring process and build a true strategic partnership.

With that in mind, here are the 5 key areas where hiring managers should improve:

1. They poorly brief their recruiting partner.

Sending a job description over email is not a proper search kick-off. Far from it. A job description is all too often a list of responsibilities and requirements. That will not set up your recruiter to successfully find or assess, let alone “sell” a great candidate.

Instead, start by writing a scorecard that explains to the recruiter – and later the candidates – the key objectives, priorities, success metrics and growth opportunities of the role. Armed with that, hiring manager and recruiter should review and discuss, in person, and start calibrating their search.

The best way to do this is by performing live searches on LinkedIn. It will help quickly assess the size of the talent pool for each set of criteria, while giving the recruiter a much better understanding for what you are looking for and what you are trying to avoid.

As you meet the first candidates, feel free to revise the brief to adjust to market realities. You may realize the talent pool is greater than anticipated and decide to zero in on a few targeted competitors, where you will find the most relevant experience.  Conversely, there’s no need to persist with the initial search if the talent pool is too narrow.

Give recruiters names of companies where you are likely to find superstars for that role (which ones are the best at XYZ?) as well as names of current employees or connections who would fit the bill, so they get a feel for who you are looking for.

Lastly, do not end the kick-off meeting until you have agreed on a process and rhythm: who does what? How often do we meet? What report will we look at and share? How often? Who is on the interview list and what role will they play?

2. They leave all the sourcing of candidates to recruiters.

Sourcing needs to be a team sport. Hiring managers should not delegate all the searching and initial outreach to their recruiter.

Updating their social media status to “I am looking for a superstar <insert role here>… know anyone?" won’t get their connections to do the work for them.

First, hiring managers need to leverage their network actively. Go through your connections again, if you have not done so in the last 3 months. More importantly ask yourself “Who do I highly respect that is likely to know a superstar in this field?” and reach out to that person for a 10 to 15-minute live conversation. Then, ask if they’d be willing to open up their connection list and tell you who is a star at XYZ, regardless of whether they are on the market or not. Tell them you have a role today but would like to network with such individuals anyway. Otherwise, you will get too few names if any at all.

Second, help recruiters with the outreach. Why should your target only hear from the recruiter, especially if they share a connection with you? A phone call by a recruiter followed by an InMail from me has been very effective in getting a target candidate to engage.  Professionals want to network with their peers and want to see that their potential managers care about them.

3. They don’t contribute to building the company’s employer brand.

Hiring managers are in a unique position to make their departments, teams and job opportunities look great. Good candidates will have many options and will do their research.

Start with your LinkedIn profile and make sure it’s complete. This is the first place where someone you have just contacted will begin researching you.

Through status updates, sharing articles or posting presentations, show candidates what you are working on, what you are passionate about, and most importantly your team’s achievements.

Ask people you have managed to describe, in a recommendation, what it’s like working for you. Candidates will get a sense for who you are, how you develop people, and what type of work environment you foster.

Hiring Manager Recruiter Relationship

4. They don’t do reference calls themselves.

I am baffled that many hiring managers delegate doing the reference calls to their recruiting partner.

Reference checking is a super critical step of the assessment process. At that point recruiters really want to move on and “seal the deal.” After rounds of conversations, when a candidate has made it this far, “happy ears” prevail.

Hiring manager, this is your opportunity to hear, first-hand, all the nuances about the person you will need to manage from people who have done that. Every word and piece of advice counts and, often, only “people managers” will pick up on the small hints that can make a difference between fit or no fit.

You need to formulate your questions so the good and the bad are discussed. A good sign that you have managed interviews well is when the areas for improvements listed by referrers are consistent with what you have learned so far. The questions that I always ask are “what are 3 areas for improvement you were asking this person to work on to get promoted and why?” and “It’s now very likely that I will hire her, and as her future manager, what 2 to 3 pieces of advice do you have for me so I can coach and develop her most effectively?”

Again, it’s your decision eventually. The recruiter will not be around if you need to manage out a bad hire.

5. They don't take the temperature and sell through the entire process.

Who, other than the hiring manager, can talk best about the role, the team, key projects, etc.? Selling a candidate does not only consist of pitching the role during the first call or interview, it’s an ongoing effort that continues until the employee is in the role (and beyond of course).

To do so effectively, take the candidate’s temperature regularly. Even if you are not part of an interview round, ask to be scheduled for a 15-minute ‘check-in’ with the candidate when they come in.

Showing up, simply saying “Hi, how are things going? Do you have any questions for me?” will send strong signals to your candidates, but mostly help you find out if there will be any difficulties closing the candidate later and address them early.

One question that I find especially insightful is “What surprised you during these last conversations?” Identify objections, handle them quickly and share your findings with your recruiting partner.

In conclusion, recruiting is a team sport, certainly not a task you fully outsource. Hiring managers should invest in building a strategic relationship with their recruiting partners and vice versa. This way both parties will become better at the sport, leveraging their individual resources.

In the end, you’re only as strong as your team.

To learn more about how to build a great recruiter/hiring manager relationship, download the Zen and the Art of Hiring Manager Maintenance Tip Sheet.