Recruiters Must Be ‘Project Managers’ and ‘Consultants’

By Leon Rubis Apr 28, 2015
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SAN DIEGO—Recruiting isn’t only about dealing with external candidates. A crucial, overlooked skill is dealing with internal colleagues and challenges, according to Jeremy Eskenazi, SHRM-SCP, managing principal of Riviera Advisors Inc. in Long Beach, Calif.

Internal recruiters face many challenges, including disrespectful or unresponsive hiring managers, and lack of control over some steps in the recruiting process, Eskenazi said in a concurrent session, “Setting and Managing Expectations: The Most Important Skill in Recruiting,” at the 2015 Society for Human Resource Management Talent Management Conference & Exposition.

Eskenazi, author of RecruitCONSULT! Leadership: The Corporate Talent Acquisition Leader's Field Book (STARoundtable Press, 2011), portrayed recruiting as more than just what the recruiter does, calling it “project management” of joint efforts with hiring managers.

Recruiting professionals should not consider themselves to be customer service professionals, he said. “We are not a vendor; we work for the same company.” Recruiters are “partners in the company’s success,” and have “the ability to say ‘no’ when appropriate.”

Instead, he said recruiters should view themselves as consultants, conveying their expertise through deeds and actions. “We must be willing to take a stand and back it up,” but also “willing to back down if we have made our point and it is not accepted.”

Failure to take on a consultant role rather than that of an “order taker,” results in being seen as less strategic, more transactional, less credible and not part of management, he said.

However, a consulting stance presents recruiting as sharing the burden, with the recruiter functioning as facilitator to define roles, responsibilities and outcomes in advance.

Eskenazi urged recruiters to use written Service-Level Agreements with hiring managers to document four key elements: goals, roles/process, speed/time and consequences. Then use that agreement. For instance, tell hiring managers: “I need you to respond to my questions within 24 hours” to keep progress on track.

Be sure to have a “hiring manager intake meeting” with a checklist to ensure you discuss every question and issue.

Of course, don’t forget about managing relationships with candidates, either. Employers often have a well-deserved rap for not responding to candidates, and should remember that “personal and employer brands are made or lost in the recruiting world. Always tell candidates what to expect and when. Always follow through.”

Only two recruiting metrics really matter, Eskenazi concluded: speed and quality. “But at the end of the day, [hiring] decisions are not ours. We’re the project manager.”

So “when a job is filled, send a thank you to the hiring manager saying, ‘Congratulations, we did a great job together.’ ”

Leon Rubis is vice president of editorial at SHRM.

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