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How to turn recruiters into business partners

June 29, 2017

By Dan Van Slambrook

The terms “human resources” and “business partner” have become increasingly enjoined over the years, as organizations have awakened to the value of aligning HR expertise with the strategy and daily operations of the core business.  Yet, among the many HR functions, recruiters may not be viewed—or view themselves—as having a true partnership relationship with the hiring managers they support.  Talent Acquisition is a critical function, but without properly aligning recruiters with the business, hiring the talent necessary to advance organizational objectives can be a challenge.  

This lack of partnership often resides in a disconnect between the recruiter and departments he or she supports.  At times, the relationship between the two can be adversarial, with hiring managers casting blame on recruitment for failure to surface viable candidates, and recruiters countering that they are kept out of the information loop or beholden to unrealistic manager expectations.  It’s incumbent on both recruiters and the departments they support to deliberately forge a partnership relationship that goes beyond the transactional approach of simply “sending/receiving candidates” to one that is anchored in delivering talent which corresponds to a deeper understanding of business needs.  Yet, like many HR-driven initiatives, recruitment will likely need to take the lead in fostering the partnership and changing the perspective of line managers to see its true value.  

There are several ways to help make this transformation:

Establish Understanding
Becoming an asset to a business line leader begins with understanding that leader’s business.  Recruiters should invest time in developing a knowledge base of the departments he or she supports—what it produces, who its customers are, its strengths and challenges, the department “personality” and work environment, and most importantly, the objectives of the department and needs of its leaders.  This will feed the recruiter’s understanding of what kind of talent is required to best contribute and fit in.  

Build Relationships
The foundation of strong relationships is built on trust.  Recruiters can establish trust through displaying a sincere interest in supporting the department, getting to know its members, being candid, and delivering on commitments.  The stronger the trust level, the more the recruiter will be seen as a business partner.

Maintaining active communication between recruiter and the department helps establish a healthy exchange of information from all parties, reducing misunderstandings that can lead to some of the discord mentioned above.  Attending staff meetings (preferably in-person), for example, is a great way for recruiters to hear first-hand what’s going on in the department that will help anticipate upcoming staffing needs, but also provide a platform for the recruiter to provide updates.    

Take a Consultative Approach
Finally, recruiters can be a great resource to managers and establish themselves as trusted advisors in a variety of areas relevant to filling open positions, including education on the availability of certain skills in the market, prevailing salary requirements, kinds of talent that may fit well with their department, or how best interview and to make selection decisions.  The key for recruiters it to take a solutions-based approach – helping hiring managers solve problems and improve their departments.  

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