No matter who you’re meeting with, make a good impression. But hiring managers even more so. You will potentially be partnering with these individuals during your entire stay at the company you are with, and potentially beyond.
During my first corporate recruiting position I felt that my role was as a “service provider” to my managers, so when they said jump, I did. Looking back on that now I realize how many opportunities I missed to set myself up as an expert in my profession of recruiting because I lacked the confidence to command a meeting and initiate a true partnership during the beginning of that relationship.
During my time as a recruiter I have run across several different types of managers and most can be intimidating. Below are some of the most common personality types that I’ve run across and ways that you can forge strong relationships with them despite some of their traits.
The “unemployment rate is so high you must have candidates banging our door down” manager: This particular breed of manager needs to be better educated on what is really out there in the market. The unemployment rate rising doesn’t always result in a rise in the actual candidates who you need for a given opening. Websites like the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and Wanted Analytics are great starting points to use, and they’ll be able to arm you with some statistics on how many candidates for that job are actually out there. Be prepared for your first meeting with this manager by painting a realistic picture of the market from the very beginning of your search so that you set expectations correctly in the beginning.
The “I am an executive and feel I am better than you and want to hire an agency” manager: Oh my, this is my least-favorite manager, and there is always at least one in every company! Some managers no matter what your success rate is want to use an outside source just for the purpose of using an outside source. Try and compile a list of agencies that your company has worked with in the past and rate their success rate against your own, and how many hires have they made for your company vs. how many you’ve made. What has the success of those employees been in terms of tenure?
When I worked at Mike’s Hard Lemonade, I had an executive who just so happened to be best friends with a particular agency that he gave the exclusive to on everything. I wasn’t able to get him to stop using that firm on my first search, but I was able to see the candidates that agency was submitting and how easily they were finding them by pulling up the same candidates on Monster or LinkedIn. When you can illustrate that the 25-30% agency fee is only getting you a 10-minute Monster search, executives tend to listen a little more closely. With time I was able to convince that manager to allow me two weeks for a search before it went out to an agency. Over time my track record spoke for itself and I was able to gain trust and create a good partnership with this manager.
The “I don’t have time for hiring” manager: About half of my managers fall into the category of not having any time for recruitment, yet hiring and staffing their team is their No. 1 priority. These managers can be difficult to get any information out of, yet they assume you’re able to leave a five-minute meeting and produce a perfect candidate in a matter of days. The reality is managers need to be educated that the more information they provide to you and more information you get upfront, the less painful and slow the process of staffing for their team will be. I worked with a manager at Cobalt several years back, who was notorious for missing my meetings. So when I received a position from him I would do as much pre-work as possible, knowing from experience that I was only going to get yes and no answers from him, and that our first meeting about this position would most likely be our last.
Be prepared in that first meeting with candidate profiles. You most likely won’t get more than a job description from this manager, so use that to find some profiles and review them on the spot. Even hearing a yes or no on a profile can provide you with a sense of the type of candidate that they are looking for. Come prepared to the meeting with companies in your area that are hiring similar profiles so that you can provide the manager with a list of companies to pull from instead of expecting him to have that available for you. Ask if there is a lead or manager on their team who can assist with the candidate screening in an effort to save them time.
The “in an effort to look engaged I am going to ask for status updates on everything you do” manager: Some managers just like to micromanage the process and want to know everything you’re doing, including how many resumes you’ve seen, how many candidates you’ve rejected, etc. I try to be as proactive as possible with these ones and ask in the first meeting what kind of metrics they are looking for, and will create a weekly report for them. Most ATS’s have reporting functionality that you can use to build out custom reports without a lot of effort needed on your end. I use Jobvite, which has a custom report functionality that works great for this, and also allows for managers to go into the system and run their own reports at any given time.
The “even though I am a VP of _____ I am also an expert in your field and will tell you how to do your job” manager: You gotta love managers who know everyone in the industry, exactly where to find people, and how you should go about starting your search. While having a manager be networked and engaged is usually a blessing, sometimes it can go to the extreme and become a curse. Managers who know everyone in the industry and therefore start rejecting candidates based on rumors, hearsay, or reputation alone will really narrow down your pipeline. Use their knowledge to your benefit. If there are associations and groups that they’d like you to network in, ask if a member of their team can assist you as well so that you’ll have time to not only run your own search but also incorporate the ideas of your hiring manager without running yourself ragged.