4 Steps to Becoming a Better Talent Advisor

Apr 6, 2016
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

We’ve noticed a growing trend in our industry: Recruiting is taking on a more strategic role. We’re moving from an order-taker to a true business partner that can help the company achieve its goals.

But we’re not quite there yet. We’re at the start of the shift, and there are some areas where we can all improve.

Example: According to a recent survey by CEB, hiring managers claim that 20% of their team shouldn’t have been hired in the first place.

That feels unacceptable. How can it be that managers would rather not have one out of five employees on their team?

It’s because of the status quo in so many companies today when it comes to the relationship between hiring managers and recruiters. They should be partners, and all too often they’re sitting on opposite sides of table.

Hiring managers complain that sourcing takes too long, while recruiters object that hiring managers fail to adequately convey the needed skills for the open position. This can cause a vicious and seemingly never-ending cycle. But it doesn’t have to be this way.

To get the greatest return, savvy recruiting organizations are fine-tuning how they communicate — and partner — with hiring managers, striving to get them more involved in the process from the start.

Here are some ideas to promote collaboration and communication between sourcers and hiring managers.

1. Provide context and purpose: Tie sourcing goals to business objectives


Hiring managers are swamped. If you want them to be your partners in sourcing, you need to help them see why and how it’s a valuable use of their time. Start with understanding their team’s goals. What does it look like if they don’t make this hire? How much better does their life get if they find the right person? Starting with this conversation frames the problem at hand and gets authentic buy-in from the hiring manager.


This is the easiest to demonstrate in sales. A sales manager has a certain quota to hit each year. Their quota doesn’t change if a search for an account executive takes an extra month or two, but their ability to hit that quota decreases every day the account executive is not producing.

Even if you can’t make the case with exact dollar amounts, you should be able to show managers in other departments the impact that making—or not making—a hire will have on their team.



2. Demonstrate the impact hiring managers can have on the process


Prospected candidates are more likely to respond to a hiring manager than a recruiter. We observed this firsthand at Greenhouse this past summer when we were searching for a sales engineer, an incredibly challenging role to fill. Ariana, our recruiter, saw the prospect response rate nearly double from 24% to 44% when she worked with our VP of Engineering and had him email prospects directly.


Make a point of collecting and sharing data that demonstrates the impact hiring manager involvement can have on email responses or other types of candidate outreach.


3. Make it easy for hiring managers to get involved


Remember that recruiting isn’t a hiring manager’s full-time job and they probably don’t have a lot of experience with activities like writing prospecting emails. That’s where you come in. You can facilitate the process by writing a few sample emails for them to use and giving them a handful of Boolean searches to start the sourcing project.

Be their partner and help them with any of the tasks that might not come naturally to them. You may find it useful to organize regular check-ins so they have the chance to ask for help with any tasks that they’re finding especially challenging.


4. Provide a consistent feedback loop


People are motivated by progress and success. It’ll be much easier for hiring managers to collaborate with you if they know what’s working and what’s not. You can help your hiring managers get better at prospecting by using data to provide feedback. Track their response rates and make suggestions on how to make their subject lines or email copy better. And don’t forget to celebrate when their response rates do get better!




The most effective sourcing programs involve ample collaboration, commitment and communication between recruiters and hiring managers. Keep in mind that this is not an overnight process. It takes time to build these relationships and lines of communication, but the four steps we’ve outlined should point you in the right direction. Try them out and let us know if you have any other ideas.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.
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