How to Get Reluctant Hiring Managers Focused on Hiring
Getting hiring managers to devote time and attention to recruiting is rarely easy for individual recruiters. Thought leader Dr. John Sullivan offers seven powerful approaches for making it happen.
By John Sullivan
The No. 1 struggle of recruiters around the world is getting hiring managers to prioritize, and to spend more time on, recruiting. This almost universal willingness of hiring managers to put off important recruiting tasks, of course, makes no logical sense. After all, it's the hiring manager who suffers the most when their positions remain unnecessarily vacant or when they're filled with "butts in chairs"-level new hires. So, if you're an individual recruiter and you want to get your hiring managers to prioritize recruiting, try the following seven proven actions -- none of which require further authorization and all of which are guaranteed to increase excitement and time commitment to recruiting.
Show them the critical role that hiring managers play in improving recruiting results -- Demonstrate that you're an expert in improving both the quality of applicants and the quality of hires. Reveal how a hiring manager's involvement can improve recruiting results. For example, when a hiring manager appears in a simple, authentic "welcome video," it makes an individual 46-percent more likely to consider the job. Also, show them that when they're trying to land an exceptional candidate, altering the job even slightly to meet the job-acceptance criteria of the exceptional person can be very effective.
Help them build their business case for more headcount -- Almost every hiring manager wants more headcount but, unfortunately, they don't always know how to go about getting it. So, as a recruiter, build your network so that you can directly help your hiring managers build a convincing business case for adding to their team. Obviously, that also helps you as a recruiter because that means they'll have more jobs to fill.
Reduce the time that a hiring manager needs to spend on recruiting -- Given that hiring managers are busy doing their regular job, they're immensely grateful when the time that they must spend on recruiting is reduced. One of the best ways to do that is to provide proven time-saving tools. For example, decreasing the number of interviews: research from Google finds that four interviews for each candidate are the maximum that add any value. Also, decrease resume-review time by attaching a summary checklist in a quickly scannable format that highlights the candidate's strengths and weaknesses in the job requirements.
Focus on applicants from their dream company/university -- It's hard to find a hiring manager who doesn't deeply admire one or more firms in their industry. And, whether they directly say it or not, you can excite them by providing candidates who've worked in the key groups within their admired companies. In a similar light, many hiring managers are enamored with a handful of universities (including their own alma mater). So, focus your recruiting efforts on bringing in applicants who attended these schools.
Help hiring managers improve their ability to sell -- In a rapidly changing job market, it's hard for most hiring managers (and especially those who hire only once a year) to keep up with the competitive landscape. Recruiters can help them improve their selling skills by putting together a "sell sheet" that lists how your firm meets most of the common job-acceptance requirements of top applicants. You can gather this information by talking to recent candidates and hires. If you have time, you can also expand the sheet to include areas where your firm's offerings are superior to that of talent competitors.
Help them land individuals who are much easier to manage -- In addition to technical competencies, it's important to make hiring managers aware that individuals with certain non-technical competencies are much easier to manage. For example, those who are self-motivated, have a sense of urgency and who move on to other tasks once the work at hand is finished are a boon to have on any team. Managing is also much easier, of course, when your new hires quickly adapt to a rapidly changing world, take ownership of languishing problems and continuously learn on their own about emerging best practices and technologies. When you can help managers identify candidates with these qualities, they'll end up having to devote less time to managing their team.
Help hiring managers understand who is a flight risk -- Obviously, individual hiring managers can proactively prevent having to undergo a significant amount of new hiring if they can retain their own top performers. Since recruiters are constantly viewing the job market, they are more likely to see if a member of a manager's team is actively looking. And, if the recruiter alerts the manager in time, there's a much better chance that the unwanted turnover can be prevented.
A recruiter who wants more-responsive hiring managers should start out by educating them about the consequences of slow hiring. Also, I suggest including data regarding the negative consequences of unstructured interviews, first impressions and unconscious biases. Lastly, when hiring mistakes are made, it's important that the recruiter be upfront and honest with the manager, so they not only realize the tremendous cost of a weak hire but also how to avoid those same errors in the future.
Dr. John Sullivan is a professor of management at San Francisco State University and a consultant and author on recruitment, talent acquisition and talent management. He will be presenting a "mega session" on bridging the gap between recruiters and hiring managers at this year's Recruiting Trends & Talent Tech Conference on Nov. 28 through Nov. 30 at the Palm Beach County Convention Center in Florida.