5 Ways Hiring Managers Can Work Better with HR
A few years ago, eremedia unveiled the results of their In-house Recruiting Survey. In it, corporate recruiters and hiring managers were asked to grade themselves – and each other on their performance in talent acquisition. Both groups awarded themselves a B. Amusingly, but not surprisingly, both groups gave each other a C+.
Why do I find this unsurprising?
Ask any recruiter – agency or corporate – who’s been around a while and they’ll tell you why. There’s a long-standing divide between hiring managers and the in-house recruiters who work with them. Sure, both parties share one set of goals: find, attract, hire and retain top talent. But each party is also held accountable to other sets of equally pressing responsibilities. Often, those responsibilities are at odds with each other. Hiring managers often feel frustrated by the layers of legal and bureaucratic necessities that seem to bog down the speed at which their HR recruiters move. At the same time, most HR recruiters I know can tell you stories (lots of stories) about hiring managers who expect perfect candidates to show up at their doorstep – yet seem incapable of writing a job description of providing any actual direction on what would make that candidate so perfect.
The result of this disconnect? HR is frustrated. Hiring managers are frustrated. But that’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is this: candidates are beyond frustrated when the hiring process runs into constant hiccups, roadblocks and mass confusion. And frustrated candidates rarely turn into hires. They walk away.
If you want to attract and retain today’s top candidates, you need to project a strong, positive employer brand. And you can’t do that until you tighten up the team process between yourself and your HR recruiting team. It’s not that hard to do. Start with these 5 tips for building a better team:
1. Decide who’s doing what, when.
Sure, you need that job filled yesterday. So who can afford to have a kumbaya meeting with HR? You can. You can’t afford not to, actually. If you don’t figure out goals, roles and processes now, you’ll waste a whole lot more time trying to retrace, re-think and redirect along the way. Set an agreed-upon, realistic hire date – and establish how you’ll adjust that date as you move forward. Establish who’s writing the requisition, doing initial resume screens, reviewing finalist resumes, scheduling each round of interviews, checking references and getting final documents signed. Figure out how many layers of management will be interviewing. And talk about reasonable turnaround times for activities like screening resumes and returning phone calls to each other. If you’re planning extra layers like group interviews or candidate assessments, figure out how and when those will occur.
2. Establish milestones and check in (at least) weekly.
You’ve determined a realistic hire date. Now what are the benchmarks of a successful hiring process? When do you need to have the super-brand-boosting job description submitted to the HR recruiter? When (and where) does she need to have the job postings up? When should first interviews be completed? What about on-boarding? Having these conversations now ensures that you’re both defining success the same way. Finally, be sure you put weekly check-ins on your calendars and show up, every time, ready to talk specifics.
3. Share your front line knowledge.
Invest in this partnership by inviting your HR recruiter into your world. Share your team’s performance goals, discuss critical success factors and describe the obstacles in your way. Offer to review key reports and never, ever daze them with insider jargon. And when describing your “dream candidate,” point to real-life examples of high performers with whom you’ve worked previously. All of these insider tidbits offer your HR partner a real life glimpse into what your team does and what kind of person you need on your team.
4. Collaborate on the “required” vs. the “preferred.”
You need to be able to articulate the skill sets, experience levels, attitudes and values of your ideal candidate. But you also need to be willing to be flexible and prioritize these qualifications because you’re probably not going to get everything on your wish list all wrapped up in one candidate. Your HR partner isn’t a mind reader. You can’t expect him to find, attract and present the best candidates if you aren’t clear on your priorities. Spell out the skills you need most in this candidate, what level of education, job and industry experiences will best translate to your team’s needs, and the kinds of attitudes, values and success motivators that mesh best with your team’s culture.
5. Above all else: just keep communicating.
If something’s not working, talk about it early and politely. The longer you let something go down the wrong path, the more (justifiably) frustrated your HR partner will be when you finally fess up. If they’re bringing you people with solid technical skills but sub-par people skills, get back together and figure out how to improve the soft skill screening process. After you’ve received a few candidate recommendations, sit down with your recruiter and talk through the strengths, weaknesses and questions you see. Do the same after your first few interviews. When something goes well, be generous with your positive feedback. And when something’s off in the wrong direction, take responsibility for getting it back on track.