The 5 Traits of Amazing Recruiting Managers

April 15, 2015

Behind every top-performing recruiting team is an amazing leader—someone who is equal parts inspiring, empowering, enabling, and influential. This individual is a pillar within the organization, aligning teams around long-term goals, providing clarity during fire drills, and motivating and coaching employees to reach their peak performance.

But, being and doing all these things doesn’t happen overnight. That’s why we asked a group of accomplished recruiting leaders to describe the best practices that have been most integral to their success. Here’s what they shared:

1. They remain connected to ‘the trenches’

Nominated by: Jeff Vijungco, VP of Global Talent Acquisition & Development at Adobe

The candidate sourcing ecosystem is competitive, which is why managers need to create an environment that encourages camaraderie, support, and pace.

“Even though things go well 80% of the time, 20% of the time they don’t” says Vijungco. “It’s tough when searches don’t go as planned, and I always make a point to understand where my team is coming from.”

Alongside managing a team of recruiters, Vijungco ensures that he is ‘on the ground’ sourcing candidates as well. He points out that the best recruiting leaders are individuals who can help teams drive the end-to-end process.

“As a team, we recruit about 1,000 hires per quarter, and I make sure that I’m personally driving a handful of the senior searches myself,” says Vijungco.

2. They empower team members to learn as much as possible

Nominated by: Maria Martinez, Chief Human Resources Officer at HSN

One of the biggest lessons that Martinez learned early on as a recruiter was the importance of establishing trust with candidates. As she points out, recruiters who focus on filling open reqs aren’t helping their candidates in the long-term.

“Candidates need to trust that the person they’re talking to about starting their career or making a change truly has their best interest at heart,” says Martinez.

That’s why she encourages her team to learn as much as possible about candidates and from each other.

“Recruiting leaders may assume that if positions are being filled according to predetermined ‘time to fill’ metrics, all must be in good shape,” says Martinez. “While this is certainly a sign of a healthy recruiting team, I believe that recruiting leaders should ensure that teams are spending time networking, learning, sharing best practices with each other, and creating efficiencies in process.”

Martinez explains that this process requires tremendous patience. Recruiters generally place a great deal of pressure on themselves to reach their quotas and often need support from leadership to take a step back, learn, and grow.

“Ensuring we balance the pressure we feel from the organization with the pressure we’re putting on our recruiting teams to identify and hire the talent we need is critical,” says Martinez.

3. They help team members identify the right questions to ask stakeholders

Nominated by: Rich Thompson, Chief Human Resources Officer at Adecco

In today’s candidate-driven environment, recruiters need very clear benchmarks to identify the right talent. It’s this clarity that will position organizations to act quickly. That’s why recruiting teams, according to Thompson, need skills to listen and learn.

“It’s very basic, but it goes a long way,” says Thompson. “Recruiting managers need to empower teams to treat every stakeholder conversation as a learning opportunity. Managers can help teams identify the right questions to ask.”

As Thompson points out, this mindset will help recruiters adapt quickly in reaching hiring needs.

“Team members are never going to know everything, but asking the right questions will help you learn new things every day,” says Thompson. “It’s this curiosity that will help recruiters become experts in their industry.”

4. They get team members on board with big decisions

Nominated by: John Fleischauer, Senior Talent Attraction Manager at Halogen Software

Experience is one of the most valuable assets that employees bring to organizations. These diverse perspectives can help build stronger recruiting operations—and it’s up to recruiting managers to surface their teams’ collective insight.

“One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned as a recruiting manager is the need to leverage my team’s strengths in learning what has worked for them,” says Fleischauer. “It’s these viewpoints that help me create the strongest possible strategy.”

Fleischauer further explains that it’s important for managers to secure team buy-in for strategic decisions.

“You can’t just impose a top-down strategy,” he says. “You have to get them involved in the decision making process. Put yourself in your team members’ shoes.”

5. They encourage feedback from candidates

Nominated by: Liz Hall, VP of People at Trello

Recruiters are a company’s first voice, image, and face—they’re what candidates all over the world think about a company’s brand. It’s important for every phone conversation, email, video chat, and in-person interaction to create the best experience possible.

“Recruiters have done their jobs if rejected candidates still want to work at Trello,” says Hall. “That’s why we’re always honest, transparent, prompt, and constructive with our candidates.”

And, that’s why Hall and her team encourage feedback from candidates. This information allows Trello’s sourcing team to reflect upon their performance and make improvements as necessary.

“If there is constructive feedback, that’s a good thing. That just means that we’re going to make the experience better for the next person,” says Hall. “We always respond, and we always thank them.”

Feedback keeps Hall’s team closer to her candidates.

Final thoughts

Great leaders make management look easy. But it takes time—and plenty of practice—to cultivate the skillsets required to lead teams to greatness. Success comes down to two words: practice and process. The five best practices referenced can help get you there.

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