It’s fairly common to hear complaints about the hiring managers in recruiting. Some may complain that hiring managers didn’t clarify job requirements. Some may suffer from the lack of feedback. It is known to us (recruiters and sourcers) that collaboration between recruiters, sourcers, and hiring managers is key to successful and efficient hiring process. However, hiring managers may not think the same. I was a software engineering manager before and now I am proud of being a recruiter. With experience from both sides, I’d love to share my understanding of the relationship between recruiters and hiring managers.
To be honest, I was not a nice and collaborative hiring manager to the recruiters that worked with me. I thought recruiting is not my job. Now I am treated the same way when I help hiring managers source and recruit talent. What goes around comes around! Not every hiring manager can emphasize to feel what we recruiters feel in order to make recruiting efficient. We should figure out how to better work with hiring managers.
Respect Hiring Managers First
A collaborative relationship should be built upon a peer-to-peer relationship. If mutual respect does not exist between recruiters and hiring managers, it’s almost impossible to have a happy teamwork experience. Some hiring managers may not show enough respect to recruiters. They may be arrogant. However, a lot of our recruiters don’t respect them either. Take my own experience as an example. When I had a meeting with my in-house recruiters, I didn’t feel that they really did any research on the role or job description. It was an enterprise security position with the strong single-sign-on background. The meeting started with a question of “what is your team working on?” If the unnamed recruiter simply did their research on the department or glanced over my job description, they would not ask such a question. I felt that they were wasting my time. They lost my respect immediately.
Here’s a solution: Show your respect to the hiring team and hiring task first. Hiring managers can tell quickly whether you put efforts or not. As recruiters, we own the recruiting task, and thus we should show the hiring team our ownership. The ownership will deliver a strong signal to them that we are able to crack things. The signal brings respect consequently. I learned from Derek Zeller at SourceCon 2016 that he always claims the authority and ownership of recruitment by showing how much work he has done and how many answers he can provide to the hiring decision maker. That’s exactly what hiring managers want to see and often that’s how you will get loyal clientele. Hiring managers generally don’t know how to source or how to recruit. They are desperate for confidence from us. When confidence comes, respect follows. For recruiting agency, this criteria applies even stronger. To know what questions you may ask hiring managers, please follow several articles on SourceCon, for example, “The Best Questions You Can Ask To Effectively Source and Recruit People” by Glen Cathey.
Understand how much time you may have from hiring managers.
When we say the collaborative relationship with hiring managers, don’t misunderstand that hiring manager should work with you heavily. They are hired to lead projects first. We should have their input, but don’t be too needy. To help my fellow recruiters better understand how much time they will get from hiring managers, I come up with a simple mathematical model:
- A is an ideal case value of time that hiring manager will spend for each hiring task. It includes time spent on writing a job description, syncing with recruiters, screening candidates, interviewing candidates, etc. It varies for different companies, teams, job positions, etc. For example, for Hiretual’s big data team, data scientist position, A is three hours.
- R_u is a rate value to indicate how well a recruiter understands the hiring task and how many efforts he or she puts. A zero means the recruiter knows nothing about the job.
- R_c is a rate value to indicate how capable and experienced a recruiter is for the hiring task. A zero means the recruiter is not experienced at all and not capable of doing this hiring task at all.
- Usually, R_u and R_c are on a unit interval and usually not independent.
- T_hm is the time a hiring manager will spend on the hiring task in a real case.
Let’s take an example. Hiretual has Steven, the recruiter, to recruit a data scientist for its big data team. Steven didn’t put a lot of effort to understand the job position, the R_u is 0.4. However, Steven is experienced in recruiting data engineers and data scientists, the R_u is 0.8. A is three as we mentioned above. Therefore, Alex, the hiring manager, will spend T_hm = 3 / (0.4*0.8) = 9.375 hours on this hiring task. The distribution of the time Alex may spend is shown in Figure 1.1 and Figure 1.2:
Figure 1.1. Distribution of hiring managers time spent (T_hm) with respect to recruiter understanding (R_u) and competence (R_c)
Figure 1.2. Distribution of T_hm versus R_ugiven (R_c=0.8) or R_(c )given (R_u=0.8)
The time hiring manager has to spend is very sensitive to the capability of the recruiter and the job comprehension of the recruiter. For example, if R_u = 0.8 and R_c = 0.8, T_hm is 4.69 hours; if R_u = 0.4 and R_c = 0.4, T_hm is 18.75 hours. It’s a completely different experience for the hiring decision maker. The extra time (14 hours) may be spent on interviewing low-quality candidates or syncing between the hiring manager and recruiting, again and again, dragging the hiring task well over the already long average hiring span of 53 days!
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We should always keep in mind that as recruiters we should be very sensitive to the time we get from the hiring managers. The more time we need, the higher probability that hiring managers may raise a red flag on our work.
Work smart and efficiently.
Most of us are working hard to place talent. However, only a small part of us work smart and efficiently. We don’t have to constantly show how hard-working we are to hiring managers. We are peers to them instead of reporting to them. Smart and efficient work requires innovation. For example, if you want to learn more about the job description from the hiring manager, you don’t have to send a formal email and schedule a meeting in a meeting room. That’s not efficient at all. Just grasp your laptop and go to the hiring manager’s cubicle or office or directly call. Solve problems at once! If you want to leverage hiring managers’ networks for sourcing talent, you don’t have to wait for their response. Usually, they immediately don’t have time to go through their social connections. Why not browse their connections by yourself, LinkedIn supports that. And then simply provide a list of targets. If you want to get feedback from hiring managers after interviews, you don’t have to send a survey form through an email. Print it out and let them fill the form immediately. If you want them to prepare the interview questions carefully, you can send them a reminder email before the interview so that they will stop the task at hand and focus on creating the context for the coming interview.
If you want to leverage hiring manager’s networking for sourcing talent, you don’t have to wait for their response. Usually, they immediately don’t have time to go through their social connections. Why not browse their connections by yourself, LinkedIn supports that. And then simply provide a list of targets. If you want to get feedback from hiring managers after interviews, you don’t have to send a survey form through email. Print it out and let them fill the form immediately. If you want them to prepare the interview questions carefully, you can send them a reminder email before the interview so that they will stop the task at hand and focus on creating the context for the coming interview.
We are recruiters and we should be proud of our work. We are working WITH hiring managers NOT working FOR them. As recruiters and sourcers, we are their peers and this is a win-win relationship. Show our value with respect and effort first. Be ambitious but not needy. Be sensitive to the time you have from them. Working smart is more important than blindly working hard.