If you’ve been in recruitment long enough, you’ve seen the constant state of fear that a lot of recruiters live in.  Fear that they’ll piss off hiring managers, fear of not being able to deliver the kind of candidates the hiring managers expect, fear of asking hiring managers for feedback.  Rather than focusing on how to partner with hiring managers, the focus is on how to serve them.

How can any recruiter function well in a state of constant panic and fear?

They can’t.

Self-fulfilling prophecy in recruitment

It becomes a case of the Self-fulfilling Prophecy. The fear and panic that a recruiter feels shows in the quality of their work, which then causes hiring managers to believe that the recruiter is incompetent and ultimately, that recruitment sucks!

And the cycle continues.

In order to make hiring managers happy, delivering a positive candidate experience is not a recruiter’s priority and so the candidate thinks recruiters suck too.

When I moved from agency to corporate recruiting, I continued to ‘serve’ my hiring managers too. The dynamics for agency recruiters is slightly different and I kept that philosophy when I came in-house.

Big mistake.

Recruiters are not order takers

I remember taking over another recruiter’s portfolio and while getting me up to speed with her clients she mentioned that a particular hiring manager “doesn’t really like recruiters, so don’t get in her way” another needed to be chased for feedback and yet another only replied after two or three emails.

After a while, I felt like an order taker rather than someone who was good at their trade, who know how to source passive candidates, who knew how to guide hiring managers through the recruitment process and treat candidates with respect.

I was tired of being treated like I was there to ‘put butts in seats’ rather than a strategic partner and my approach to working with hiring managers started to change.

How to partner with hiring managers

1. It begins right at the intake – hiring managers and recruiters have responsibilities

I started making it clear at my recruitment intake meetings (by the way, here’s a recruitment intake template if you don’t have one) that I would partner with hiring managers to reach a common goal of attracting and hiring the right talent for their team.

I made clear that this had to be a common goal between the hiring manager and I and that we each had responsibilities throughout the recruitment process.

I was explicit with those responsibilities:

As a recruiter, my responsibility includes:

As a hiring manager, their responsibility includes:

  • Having a detailed recruitment intake meeting
  • Giving me timely feedback on candidates I present
  • Making themselves available for interviews

How to Implement an Agile Recruiting ProcessI end all intake meetings by mentioning that I will happily make their role a priority as long as they make it a priority as well. If hiring managers become unresponsive, I respectively let them know that I will have to put the job on hold until they have the time to engage. Otherwise, the candidate experience suffers and the company’s brand as a whole is at risk.

Remember, it’s all in your delivery. The goal is to be respectful, but firm. You’re not complaining about a hiring manager’s lack of engagement, you are respecting your time and your candidates’ time.

You shouldn’t have to chase hiring managers for feedback. You shouldn’t have to tiptoe around their schedule to coordinate interviews. Finding the right candidate should be a priority for you both.

If recruitment is not a success, the failure does not lie strictly on the recruiter’s shoulder? The hiring manager is a participant as well.

2. Lead the recruitment process

Consider yourself a ‘project manager’ during this optimized recruitment process. Most hiring managers look to you to lead them through the recruitment process. You are the expert and when you don’t take that approach, you miss the opportunity to partner with hiring managers and you eventually lose their trust.

If you see things goings in the wrong direction, it’s your opportunity to re-target.

3. Help create a culture of ownership – include hiring managers in the candidate sourcing process

The current state of most companies is for hiring managers to tell recruiters what they’re looking for and then sit back and wait.

To be honest, it’s not their fault for being frustrated.

Hiring managers aren’t being engaged or included in the recruitment process. They don’t know the state of the current candidate market because they’re left in the dark until candidates are presented.

Whether your sourcers or recruiters do the candidate sourcing, involving hiring managers is beneficial.

In some companies, hiring managers actually send InMails to passive candidates on LinkedIn (guided by the recruiter, of course). Passive candidates are far more likely to respond to a hiring manager rather than a recruiter.

Now I know this isn’t realistic for all companies, but here’s are three easy ways to include hiring managers in the candidate sourcing phase:

  1. Ask them who you can reach out to in their existing network. If they’re engaged on LinkedIn, ask them to make their contacts public (at least until you’ve completed the candidate sourcing process)
  2. Ask hiring managers to share the job posting with their network
  3. Review candidate profiles you’ve sourced with the hiring manager to ensure you’re on target before you send your outreach

Also, LinkedIn isn’t the only place where you source passive candidates. Dig into your hiring manager’s network. They go to conferences and seminars, who have they connected with recently who may be a good candidate?

Will it be hard to truly partner with hiring managers at first? Of course! Unfortunately, this is a relatively new concept in most corporate environments.

Company culture has to change

As I’ve said time and time again, it simply is not enough to go on and on about improving candidate experience, focus on employer brand and automate certain parts of the recruitment process if the very people who are involved in the recruitment process aren’t changing as well.

Companies must look from within and start empowering their recruiters to encourage hiring managers be active participants and partners during the recruitment process.

We’re approaching a brand new year. Try this approach. I guarantee you it will not only improve your relationship with hiring managers, but it will also decrease your time-to-fill. I’m not a fan of this metric, but it’s one way to measure change.

Remember to come back and tell me how it goes!

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