Finding Your Edge as a Corporate Recruiter

Aug 23, 2010

The relationship between the corporate recruiter and the hiring manager is not always a good one. True, in some organizations the working relationship between the two is strong. In others, however, there is a schism between them. And in still others, the schism became a chasm. In the latter two situations neither the candidate, the hiring manager, nor the organization is best served. And in situations like this, the chance of an unsuitable hire, in our experience, is heightened.

The responsibility to establish a positive and productive working relationship with the hiring manager rests with the corporate recruiter. Whether this is the way it should be or not is not the point. What is important is that the corporate recruiter has skills and abilities that will provide significant benefit to the hiring manager, and the key is to develop the relationship and demonstrate it.

So the two questions that need to be addressed first are:

  1. How does the corporate recruiter enhance the organization’s ability to select, hire, and advance the right talent for the organization?
  2. How do they accomplish this when they have no direct authority over the hiring manager making the final decision?

The answer to these two questions is: You do this by understanding and practicing influence. Influence (something we’re doing a workshop on at the Fall Expo) is the ability to achieve your objective — to get work done — when you do not have complete control or the authority to accomplish your objective alone.

A quick disclaimer: Influence done right and practiced well is not manipulation. It is not about attaining power, control, looking good, or driving your personal agenda. It is about mutuality. It’s about what is known as the law of reciprocity: knowing what is important to the other person and helping them get it. In turn, you will achieve what is important to you: using your skills and knowledge to improve the talent management process within your organization.

For example, when recruiting for a new employee, whether it’s a replacement position or a new position, what are high priorities for the hiring manager? High priorities can be:

  • Finding an individual who will best meet the manager’s business objectives for his or her operating unit
  • Finding an individual who will fit into the culture of the operating unit
  • Finding an individual who the manager feels he or she will be compatible with and who will work in a way that is consistent with their working expectations
  • Finding an individual who will make them and their operating unit look good
  • Finding an individual who can quickly grow and adapt in their position with the organization (important for fast-growth companies)

How well do you know what’s most important to the hiring manager? Often well-intended assumptions are made that are not in alignment. The five points raised above are examples, and there may be other drivers key to your hiring manager. The very process of asking allows you to better understand the hiring manager, build a relationship and align your efforts.

While it’s easy to talk about the importance of influence, and it’s intuitively logical, actually doing it can be a challenge. Examples of common challenges are:

  • Trepidation in dealing with the manager
  • Not knowing exactly what to do to build the relationship
  • Poor responsiveness (in timeliness or quality) to the manager’s requests
  • Tendency to oversell your candidates or your hiring strategies
  • Quitting at no — avoiding conflict versus working through it
  • A need to find the “perfect candidate” — in your opinion

Learning how to overcome these challenges is important and critical to the organization.

As a corporate recruiter, how do you gain an edge? How do you use your skills to improve the recruitment process and ensure the right candidates are hired? One thing is certain: you cannot do it well alone, nor can the hiring manager.

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