The Road to Recruiting Success, Part 2: Hiring Manager Relationships

This blog post is the second in a series of seven posts containing just a few of the many talent acquisition success practices that we at Riviera Advisors, a recruiting consulting firm, recommend to our clients, created with the intention of making your job as a recruiter run much more smoothly. Hopefully by the end of the series your road to recruiting success will be much less like a never ending marathon across the Sahara desert and more like a stroll through the park.

Caught in a Bad Romance

There are more than a few consequences of having a poor relationship with your hiring manager. Some of these could include such things as wasted time, ineffectiveness, and getting thrown under the bus among other things. It’s time to hit the reset button on your relationship with your Hiring Manager and begin your recruiting life anew.

In part one of this blog series, “The Road to Recruiting Success,” I spoke about how to become a consultative recruiter instead of being a yes sir or ma’am, order taking, slave recruiter. This is key in creating a better relationship with your hiring manager. Despite what they may believe, they are NOT your overlords! But getting them down from their pedestal is going to require some work on your end. You have to set and manage their expectations throughout the entire hiring process for them to begin respecting you and treating you as more than a servant.

To do this, you have to “contract” with them by creating a service level agreement or “SLA.” A SLA is an agreement made between two parties, ahead of time, that defines roles and a specified level of service. It is not a contract in which you sign your life away on the dotted line, it is simply a way to set guidelines for both you and your hiring manager so there is no confusion about how the job is going to get done and who is responsible for what (saving you from the depths from under that bus you’ve been thrown under for the hundredth time).

The four key components of an SLA include the following:

1. Goals: By the end of this project, what should we have accomplished?
2. Responsibilities: Who is responsible for what during this process and what will the process look like? Put some of the burden on your hiring manager! Remember: they are not your rulers; you are a team with the same goal.
3. Timelines: Typically, time to fill as a target. Instead of simply telling your hiring manager you’ll have the job done in X time, break it into a timeline and describe to them what you will be doing during each step of the process. This will educate your hiring manager just how much time you really need to get the job done right. It will also inevitably buy you more time, as you set the expectation early on and will continue to set and manage those expectations through communication during each stage of the process.
4. Issues (Speed, Quality, Costs): How is time, candidate quality, and cost impacted if we don’t keep our commitments? What other issues can come up if we don’t fill this job within our goals?

If done properly, a SLA should establish what a successful project and relationship look like, define the needs of each party, highlight how everyone is dependent upon each other, and set realistic expectations while eliminating unrealistic ones.

Taking the Intake Meeting up a Notch

When you are trying to lock down the candidate profile for a position during an intake meeting, it is important to come prepared with a fully stocked arsenal. NEVER go into an intake meeting unprepared and empty handed, especially if you’re trying to repair a broken relationship with a Hiring Manager. Bring and discuss resumes of prior offered/hired candidates, candidates who have been rejected, and even bring in some real resumes that you found prior to the meeting to see if these resumes are close to the desired target. Even if your hiring manager doesn’t like the resumes you’ve pre-sourced, this will at least bring up a conversation about what they DO want and creates a better foundation of understanding for you both.

As a recruiter, you have to be an expert in your talent market, so DON’T ask your hiring manager questions you should already know! If you ask a question like, “where should I post this job?” your hiring manager will surely execute you on the spot (if looks could kill). Make recommendations based off of your expertise and receive their feedback from there.

Here are some better questions to ask during your intake meeting that will be sure to impress:
• What kind of job title do they have now?
• What industry and organization is this candidate working in now?
• What kind of education did they likely get? Do need a Degree? Certification? Licenses?
• If I can get you someone who’s done this kind of work like an organization like (insert name of organization), would you hire (or consider) them? What might stop you from considering people like that?
• What are the themes that I will see on a resume that you would like to consider? What are some negatives I might see?
• What are the names of people who are currently in a job like this? Please walk me through their backgrounds.
• What kind of key words/terms would be on their resume? Technologies, tools, equipment, techniques, standards?
• Is there a group or people within the company who might have relationship with these target candidates/people?
• What are the common frustrations of someone in this type of job? What will likely be their biggest concerns about coming here? How do we address these concerns?
• Let me tell you where we’ve had success finding this type of person in the past. (Not a question, but still a great topic to bring up during your intake meeting)

Ask these questions and you’d be surprised at how much more effective your intake meetings and recruiting efforts will become, not to mention the fact that your hiring manager will begin to respect you as a consultative asset, rather than seeing you as an order taker.

When wrapping up the meeting, continue to set and manage the hiring manager’s expectations by discussing the next steps in the process (ex: I will get you a recruiting plan/sourcing plan via email by end of day tomorrow or I will send you some additional resumes by Thursday, etc.) and by keeping up with communication. No news is bad news, so ensure that you keep them in the loop throughout the process and make adjustments to your SLA and schedule as needed.

Hopefully, if you utilize these tips and tools, you and your hiring manager can one day look like the two people in this cheesy business stock photo. High five!

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