Recruiters: Challenge Hiring Managers to Improve the Search Process

By Roy Maurer Jan 19, 2017
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Shanil Kaderali, executive vice president of global talent solutions at San Jose, Calif.-based Pierpoint International.

The working relationship between recruiters and hiring managers can often be strained by poor communication, especially when recruiting for tough-to-fill roles. Eighty percent of recruiters believe they have a good understanding of the jobs they're recruiting for, yet 61 percent of hiring managers disagree, according to studies conducted independently by consulting firm Deloitte and recruiting platform iCIMS.

But recruiters can make that crucial relationship better by acting as talent advisors, coaching hiring managers on the talent market, managing their expectations and providing valuable information to develop an optimal recruitment strategy.

Shanil Kaderali, executive vice president of global talent solutions at San Jose, Calif.-based Pierpoint International, a global recruitment process outsourcing firm, discussed with SHRM Online how recruiters can work better with hiring managers, while building their own expertise about the industry they are working in and the roles they are filling. 

SHRM Online: Where's the balance for recruiters between being a consultant and being an order taker?

Kaderali: It's not easy to be consultative. There are many factors involved. Much depends on the organization's culture, as well as the specifics of the positions. The role may actually be defined correctly for that organization, and the reality is that the search for the right candidate will simply take longer than expected. Managing expectations is critical during the early stages of the search. Unfortunately, we still see more positions falling into the "purple unicorn" category than there should be. We must stop coddling hiring managers and take greater ownership in defining our roles. If we do not, we must be willing to face the consequences of longer fill times and delays in hitting important business objectives.

For example, when [the company I worked for was] hiring a DevOps engineer, the hiring manager wanted four years of experience with Ansible [a software platform]. That platform hasn't been around for that long. Lowering the desired amount of years of experience greatly increased the pipeline of candidates. This change immediately improved results. It shows that hiring managers don't have all the answers.

SHRM Online: How can recruiters build a more effective relationship with hiring managers?

Kaderali: Here's a three-step approach that has proved very effective at building a collaborative relationship with hiring managers and making all those purple unicorns much more manageable and hiring goals more realistic.

First, review the job description and collaborate with the hiring manager. The fear of making a mistake is very high among hiring managers, especially for their mission-critical hiring. Recruiters have to understand this and find ways to collaborate. Challenge the job description if needed. This does require the HR or talent acquisition professional to be committed in truly learning the business and really understanding the roles beyond the words on the job description.

Second, support your case with data. Tools and services that provide data about the addressable talent market are very valuable in setting expectations. Wanted Analytics, Talent Stream and other candidate inventory tools use job postings as a measure of demand and can provide a valuable picture of recruiting supply and demand. These definitely help with the development of sourcing strategies, especially with purple unicorn roles.

For example, Talent Stream data showed that a search for a security architect in Richmond, Va., had a 78 percent difficulty score. It showed the hiring manager there were nine times more postings than available candidates with the skills required. When pipeline challenges come up within a desired area, it's useful to expand the search to candidates from other industries who possess compatible backgrounds.

Lastly, build functional expertise on your team. A recruiter may lack the knowledge of a degreed engineer when assessing an engineering candidate but can certainly know enough to ask the right questions. Recruiters should read blogs and use other approaches to improve their knowledge of the roles. Really understanding the day-to-day realities of the role and how performance is measured will provide a big advantage when dealing with candidates and gaining credibility with everyone involved in the hiring process.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Recruiting Externally and Internally]

Take steps to develop this expertise over time. About 25 percent of my team members came from technical areas prior to becoming recruiters. For example, we have a doctor and former nurses on staff to help support our medical and biotech recruiting. Former software engineers now recruit exclusively for us. This type of expertise plays a major role in our success and is instrumental in our training and development efforts.

Without a basic understanding of roles, plus business acumen, becoming a true talent advisor is much more difficult. Knowing the role and being able to speak to a company's values as well as its products and services are critical steps to becoming more collaborative with your hiring managers.

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