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We’re in this together! How recruiters can build better partnerships with hiring managers

November 11, 2017

By Dan Van Slambrook, courtesy of SBAM Approved Partner ASE

The recruiter-hiring manager relationship has been known, at times, to be a contentious one.  Recruiters may feel that they’re asked to work with unrealistic job requirements and find information and candidate feedback from supervisors illusive.  Hiring managers may express feeling starved for qualified candidates and become frustrated when strong applicants get hired away by competitors before the selection process is complete.  Yet, in a talent acquisition environment that is often ruthlessly competitive, employers need less inter-functional finger pointing and more collaboration to successfully achieve their hiring targets. 
 
A sound partnership between recruiter and hiring manager can create a powerful duo more effective working in tandem than they would through their individual efforts.  This equates to a competitive advantage over other firms vying for the same talent who follow the more typical path described above.  A healthy partnership will result in more robust sourcing, a stronger interest from candidates, faster fills, and hopefully, a more positive experience for both parties. 
 
Although most partnerships are a “two-way street” and this one is no exception, it will likely be incumbent upon the recruiter to take the lead in getting it established.  Below are some key steps that can be taken to build and maintain a productive partner-based relationship:
 
Set Expectations 
Recruiters should set the stage early by communicating what the manager can expect from him or her, and what they expect from the manager.  To create a true atmosphere of collaboration, they should establish themselves as being on equal footing—both with important but different parts to play, rather than the more traditional internal supplier/customer roles.   This conversation establishes the tone for the entire partnership, and is an opportunity for recruiters to lay out how each party impacts the success or failure of a hiring initiative.  
 
Communicate
An open an ongoing line of communication is the foundation for a strong recruiter-hiring manager partnership.  A lack of interchange leads to misperceptions and cuts each party off from vital information.  Recruiters should proactively communicate updates on recruiting efforts and expect managers to communicate timely feedback.  Recruiters should make a point of staying in touch with managers at regular intervals, even during times when he or she does not have an open position, to stay informed about key information like new hire performance or upcoming staffing needs.   
 
Educate
It’s important for recruiters to educate hiring leaders on the factors that will impact their ability to hire, such as the availability of a particular skill set or market salary requirements.  A manager who fills only a few vacancies per year, for example, may not be in touch with the current labor climate. It’s equally important for the manager to inform the recruiter about the specifics of the job vacancy and other details that may impact the recruiter’s ability to find that talent.  The more information a recruiter has about an open position and what’s required, the better equipped he or she will be to fill it.  

Leverage Data
Managers typically respond to data.  Presenting data points that represent how well a particular manager is doing with his or her hiring initiatives, especially in comparison to peers, can be an effective method of pointing out challenge areas in a non-threatening way.  Data-based conversations also provide excellent platforms for discussing steps that can be taken to improve and a tangible way of measuring corresponding improvement.  
 
Connect Hiring Managers to Candidates  
Finally, candidates are often more interested in engaging with hiring managers.  A 2017 LinkedIn study found that 56% of candidates surveyed were more likely to respond to a hiring manager who contacted him or her about an open position than they were a recruiter.  The more visible a hiring manager can be in the recruiting process, the better the results.  Bringing hiring managers to meet candidates at job fairs and networking events or training them to mention their open positions on social media message feeds are great ways increase candidate interest and bolster sourcing results.

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