This Hiring Manager Loves Me, This Hiring Manager Loves Me Not

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Jul 27, 2017
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

How many recruiters and sourcers find themselves in a situation where they are vying for the “love” of their hiring managers?  Ever worked with a hiring manager that you would bet your life on it that they have a dart board at their desk with your face on it? Me too.

Here are some ways to deal with hiring managers that you are certain do not “love” you.


Remove ALL Emotion

First of all, it doesn’t matter if they love you or not. Now hold on, before stopping right here, hang in there with me, we WILL discuss later how to get them to like you. What matters is that you provide excellent services in a professional manner that gets the job done and exceeds their expectations.  The top priority here is not about a perception of how someone feels about you. Shift the focus on how supported do they feel by the work that you produce? Sometimes it can be easy to get caught up when one particular manager does not have the warm and fuzzies for you as the others do.

Take into consideration that this person may have a different personality type or may even have trust issues. Has there been a lot of turnover in the department? Could this lack of connection between you and the hiring manager be because they are assuming that you will be gone soon like all the others? Was the person in the role prior to you not that great? Could the hiring manager be making premature judgments about what to expect based on past experiences?

Being able to compartmentalize work performance behaviors from personals ones will help when it comes to pushing through at times when all odds may seem to be against you when dealing with a difficult hiring manager.


Have the TOUGH conversation

When it is clear that there is not a “love” connection, have the tough conversation with that particular hiring manager. Think of this as the dreaded “we need to talk” statement that comes up during rocky points in relationships. This is a very good time to convey that your goal is to provide service excellence and that finding the best candidates will always be a top priority. Ask them what their expectations are. Be prepared to listen without interrupting them. Ask them for some recommendations on how the two of you could work better together. Also, come to the table with ideas to present as well. Utilize this initial tough conversation as the platform for an open door policy to have additional relationship “tune-up” conversations. This could include additional check-ins about how things are going. Topics could include what has improved and what opportunities are still available for further improvements, etc.


Kill them with KINDNESS

Now, this is what you’ve been waiting for. How do you get them to like you? Well, utilize the age old saying “kill them with kindness.” Remember, when I mentioned removing all emotion? That was to prep your for this phase. If a hiring manager is rude or distant with you, by choosing to react emotionally to that; it can affect your work performance. However, if all emotion is removed and the consistent pattern of response from you is positive and professional; over time this will have an effect on the other party, in a good way.

Be genuine and try to get to know things about the hiring manager that the two of you may share in common. Get to know a few personal things about them and keep up with it, this shows that you care. For example, do you know when their birthday or work anniversary is? If so, set a reminder on your calendar and send them well wishes on those dates. Depending on the industry, there are several nationally recognized days to send them a “thank you” for their service on that day. Do they play sports or have kids? Have they recently traveled? Ask about it so that you can hear about their experience.



Something to Try

Here is one example that I did with a tough hiring manager; before one of our scheduled recruiting calls, I reached out and asked if it was ok to take the first five minutes to do something fun that would help us get to know each other better. I had prepared ten questions that we had to answer in ten seconds. It worked out because the questions were sent before the call.

A question was read, and then each quickly said our answer and wrote it next to the other person’s answer. It was a quick visual of how much we had in common and also a snapshot of new things that we may not have known about each other. These were simple questions like favorite color, favorite food, and favorite vacation location. After the questions and answers were completed, we used the next few minutes to discuss what we had in common and the surprising things that we learned about each other.

For the first time, we found ourselves laughing and enjoying speaking with each other. NOT every hiring manager will be open to that; this is just one example. For me, this was implemented when I was at my whit’s end with every recruiting update call feeling like a cold igloo in the middle of the Artic. Something so simple broke several barriers and eventually that hiring manager ended up becoming one of my biggest advocates.

Some instances may not be as quickly resolved as the previous example. There may be times when there is a need for a mediator for both parties to feel heard during the tough conversation. Think of it as the “we need to go to counseling” point in a relationship. Having a third party as a part of the conversation can help with deescalating issues. For example, this could be a supervisor, leader in talent acquisition, or human resources representative. Most importantly, the person must be neutral in the situation.

Overall, there is no perfect work relationship, and it is ubiquitous to hit a “rough patch” at some point in time. Keep the focus on the task at hand which is to recruit and source. Stay positive and be consistent with acts of kindness. And no matter how tough things get between you and the difficult hiring manager, here is a quote that I live by “ This is my DAY, not, my LIFE.” Meaning that when I get off work, life is good, things are great, and I can always wake up tomorrow and start the next workday new and fresh.  Try not to carry over the strained work relationships into your personal life. Want more tips on how build better relationships with the hiring manager? Feel free to connect with me; I love talking about this kind of stuff.


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