Recently, my family and I bought solar panels. The experience was fantastic as the provider of the service partnered with me throughout the process, followed up, stayed close, and walked me through a variety of steps that we would experience for our “project,” as they referred to my solar panel installation, would be successful. In our staffing world, we often become partners to our over-worked hiring managers. They often know deep down what they want and need, but sometimes may have a hard time expressing it. Further, they may have something in their mind that may, or may not be a practical approach to staffing. Many times it is like peeling an onion to get to the center of the truth of what the hiring manager may need.
I worked with a hiring manager this past month, one who knew his search was going to be tough and wound up showing me some new approaches to partnering that are valuable best practices for future sourcing strategies. Furthermore, he has done some things that are to me above and beyond in the partnership, in a way unorthodox. Along the way he got me to think a little differently about how I partner with hiring managers in the future. I have had my share of tough requirements and challenging hiring managers. But this particular hiring manager got me thinking about the service I provide, how I can improve, and what I can do better as I partner, just like my solar service provider I too can provide excellent service to my hiring manager partners. He took steps that were out of the box approaches, some things I would never have considered in this search but in the past that I have tried in others. I have filled a variety of openings, but this particular search needed some reinvention to the approach as the traditional steps might not work in this effort.
Partnering with our hiring managers is a vital process, and something staffing professionals from recruiter to sourcer can always improve. There are a few things that come to mind that I learned from this unorthodox hiring manager. One of the greatest lessons he taught me was to think out of the box in every search. I have done this approach so many times before, but his approach and advice were quite frankly practical and refreshing. For example, he volunteered to speak to candidates at the front end of the process and to help with the selling of the position, He even reviewed the messaging approach and talk track to see if we could tweak it differently to attract the type of candidates he specifically wanted. It was incredible to have a hiring manager be willing to do this. In a sense it required me to also think out of the box in my partnership, to allow his creativity to help our search advance and introduce some sourcing ideas of my own. I suggested some steps to what he wanted to try, and together we came up with some incredible outcomes.
We had a good intake session, it worked well, and we got some initial traction. He turned out to be quite selective and throughout the process, I had to be patient. He was targeting a particular group of candidates that are hard to convince to leave their current company, and have a superior education from Ivy League schools. In letting him a partner to create an effective marketing and reach out the campaign, I must admit a robust search became a living laboratory for new ideas and new ways of doing business I can apply elsewhere.
So what are the Top 5 lessons for Sourcing Learned in this Search?
Lesson #1: Always be willing to try something different. Each search is different. While I have always intuitively known this, trying different approaches (listserv campaigns, professional association reach outs, alumni groups), in addition to targeted reach-outs to a targeted list are helpful.
Lesson #2: An anxious hiring manager can be given a snapshot of the reach out efforts via a spreadsheet to show them how many contacts have been attempted, follow-up approaches used to reach out to the target company candidates, conversations obtained, and progress overall. This method of keeping close to the challenges experienced, the carrot we use to contact the candidate, our messaging campaign, and efforts at personalization are paying dividends to other searches I am conducting as I adopt best practices obtained from this process. While I have always kept managers apprised of general numbers, a snapshot of the big picture of the pool, etc., this particular search has amazed me due to the unique approach we wound up taking and literally the deeper detail the manager requested. By having him see in real time how the search was unfolding and what was happening it enabled me to consult with him differently.
Lesson #3: Use Your Network in Your Company. This search also being new to me required I reach out to several colleagues, the manager’s direct reports and superstars, etc. to get new insights on how to attract our candidates and ideal talent focus. This insight is invaluable. When I asked the hiring manager if I could speak to his top performers, he immediately jumped at that opportunity and introduced me. The insights gained are beyond incredible and helpful to approaching the candidates.
Lesson #4: Being candid to the hiring manager about challenges being faced, roadblocks to our carrot and attraction approach, salary, etc. are vital communications to be open about to your hiring manager. The feasibility of achieving a particular outcome and the reality of the search parameters the manager has set forth are consulting obligations to share immediately to make a search go more smoothly and to hit the mark faster in your sourcing efforts.
Lesson #5: Even the toughest hiring managers are approachable in most cases. Especially if the hiring manager realizes what they are asking for could be a hard mountain to climb, then the more open they may become to a dialogue about considering the big picture on a particular search. The hiring manager I worked with this past month gave me some new ideas on how to approach my recruiting craft, and I’ll admit that was very insightful.
In conclusion, we do not need to fear difficult searches as sourcers and recruiters. Sometimes, just the very act of being candid with a hiring manager may be all they need to start helping you create a new approach to the search. I have been amazed at how partnerships evolve, while you may face a tough search now and then, these searches by far are the most rewarding when you finally place that top candidate. And finding the golden candidate that makes even the most anxious partner happy is worth every effort to please even the most unorthodox of managers.