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Attention Hiring Managers: Recruiters Can be Your Best Asset …If You Feed Them What They Need.

February 17, 2014

Written by Dan Van Slambrook, SBAM Approved Partner ASE

No one disputes that the success of an organization rests on the capabilities of its employees.  It follows that the strength of the recruitment and selection process correlates to the strength of your team, your department, and the company.  Given their importance as true business partners, then, when was the last time you asked yourself, “How is my relationship with our talent acquisition team?  Am I giving them what they need to be successful?”

Interesting questions, you say? After all, shouldn’t the hiring manager be the internal customer of the recruiters—not the other way around?  Likely so; but like many relationships, both parties need to contribute to get positive outcomes.  The more you invest yourself in the effort to fill your vacancies (after all, they are your vacancies), the more efficient the process becomes—and the more pleased you will be with the result.    

“The War for Talent” is a label (and a book of the same name) often used to describe the competitive nature of capturing the best employees.  Recruiters are on the front lines of that battle.  Speaking from personal experience, it can be a vicious undertaking that requires tenacity, creativity, speed, emotional fortitude, and just plain hard work.  Despite gloomy statistics about sluggish hiring, good talent is almost always in demand, regardless of the industry.  It is not uncommon for candidates to get calls from multiple recruiters and be courted by several firms at the same time.  Recruiters have a tool set they will draw upon to target, connect with and screen talent.  Yet that is only part of what they need.  The rest is something, to quote Smokey the Bear, “only you” can provide. 

So, what do recruiters need from you to be best positioned for success?  It’s surprisingly simple!                                                                    

Engage them early.  Your talent acquisition team will appreciate a heads-up from you about an upcoming position.  This allows them to conduct proactive “pipelining” of candidates. At the very least, it alerts them to make note of appropriate talent they might otherwise overlook. Just be sure to differentiate between forecasted needs and truly open, approved positions (also known as “not pulling your recruiter’s chain”).

Arm them with details. One of the greatest frustrations recruiters all too commonly face is a job description that is brief, vague, or generic.  Provide a description that is specific to the position you are filling, and anchored in the knowledge, skills, abilities and education needed to perform the job successfully.  In addition to a well-considered job description, make yourself available for an initial meeting with the recruiter. This gives you the chance to fully explain what you’re looking for, and your recruiter the chance to ask questions.  Investing this relatively brief amount of time on the front end will pay dividends throughout the selection process, because your time will not be wasted later on interviewing candidates who are not on the mark. 

Be responsive. Time is your enemy when it comes to hiring.  Talent that is available the day your recruiter shows you a resume may not be available two weeks later. Think of talent as a moving, rather than a fixed, target.   Reacting quickly to your recruiter’s need for feedback on candidates who have been presented to you, or making timely choices of which candidates you’d like to interview or hire, will significantly increase the likelihood of you will secure the talent you desire.

Provide specific feedback. Articulating exactly why you feel a candidate is or is not a good fit for your vacancy is important. It helps the recruiter adjust his or her search and screening of future candidates in the effort to get closer to what you are seeking. Saying to a recruiter after an interview, “I just didn’t feel good about the way Candidate X answered my questions” is much less helpful than saying, “Candidate X seemed to have a hard time answering my questions concisely.  He rambled. It’s important that the person in this role be a very clear communicator.” 

Finally, show a little appreciation!  Recruiters are human. They want to know that the fruits of their labor have added value to you.  A quick email of thanks, or kudos in a staff meeting, will go a long way in building the right relationship between you and the recruiters supporting you. 

If these steps seem like common sense, it’s because they are. Yet with surprising frequency they are overlooked or dismissed as unnecessary. Recruiters can be among the best, if not the best, assets in your arsenal, playing a key role in helping you inject your department with strong talent that might otherwise land with your competition.  But they are neither mind readers nor magicians.  Recognize the vital part you play in the recruiting process, feed your recruiters what they need, and prepare to thank yourself in the end! 

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