Hiring Managers Think Recruiters Are Getting Worse – Here’s What To Do About It

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May 24, 2016
This article is part of a series called How-Tos.

The topic of my talk at the ERE conference in New Orleans this fall is “Using Data to Drive a Consultative, Proactive Talent-Acquisition Function.” (I promise the presentation will be more exciting than the title). As I pull together the research for my presentation, there is one piece of information that keeps nagging at me: “hiring managers think recruiting is getting worse.”

According to the 2016 ERE State of Talent Acquisition survey, 15 percent of hiring managers rated their talent acquisition team with a “F,” and nobody gave their talent acquisition team an “A.”  How is this possible? The data nerd in me says that there shouldn’t be a zero (we double checked our results). The talent acquisition professional in me is just sad …

How did we get here?

In theory, hiring managers should be incredibly happy. Recruiting teams have access to unbelievable amounts of information. Sourcing teams constantly come up with new and unique ways to find more candidates, creating candidate slates of incredibly high quality. Yet hiring managers still think we suck.

Do we suck or have we not set the correct expectations with our hiring managers?

I hold the belief that the key to a successful search is the intake meeting. It’s also the path to hiring manager satisfaction. If we have ever worked together, you’ve seen me draw the following diagram:

TA Success business

On the left is your recruiter, expert on all things recruiting. On the right is your manager and/or other stakeholders, bringing the business point of view. Where those two spheres intersect is where success is achieved.

The unfortunate reality is that today’s intake meeting leaves much to be desired, and my crude drawing has become nothing more than white board fodder. If the intake meeting actually happens, it tends to be hyper-focused on the sourcing aspect of the search. Finding the correct candidate is the goal of the search, but I’ve already established that we have incredibly smart people, using new and unique ways to look at phenomenal amounts of candidate data, resulting in candidate slates that are extremely high quality. Yet talent acquisition still sucks in the hiring manager’s eyes.


Shawn Achor gives a Ted Talk about the relationship of happiness and success.

“It’s not necessarily the reality that shapes us, but the lens through which your brain views the world that shapes your reality.”

Using the intake meeting to set expectations and change the lens of your hiring managers will drive satisfaction scores. In order to do so, I challenge you, as the TA leader, to do the following three things:

Drive Consistency

There’s a great quote in the book Fierce Conversations:

“You get what you tolerate.”  

How often are intake sessions actually happening at your company? You claim it’s part of the process and should be happening, but think back to how many times your recruiter told you they didn’t have time to complete the intake session or that the hiring manager wouldn’t make themselves available. Have you set the expectations with your organization that a position will not be posted without an intake meeting? Do your recruiters have your support to follow through?

Use Data to Set Expectations

Impact and Influence as a competency is defined as the ability to persuade or convince others to support an idea, agenda, or direction.

Give your team the information they need to successfully influence your hiring managers. At an advanced level, that conversation would include both internal and external benchmarks of key metrics directly related to the opening, and potential available candidate pools, including a competitive analysis. At a minimum, your team should walk the manager through the recruiting process, setting SLAs for all parties at each critical step. Additionally, have your recruiters share the sourcing strategy and all the tools and techniques they will be using to create a candidate slate.  This should include a strategy that includes the hiring manager using their own networks to gain access to additional candidate pools.

Be “Mama Bear”

I’m reminded of a colleague who spent an entire meeting telling leadership that he nor his team were going to complete any of the tasks that were being thrown over the fence at him because they weren’t relevant to the critical path. Even the most benign requests were volleyed back. After the meeting, I asked him about his behavior.

His response: “Today, my team needs me to be Mama Bear.”

A risky move, but one that helped him create the environment that allowed his team to execute.

I challenge you to do the same. What was your CHRO’s response when you notified them your team would not be posting any positions without a completed intake meeting? How did your business leaders react when they learned that their teams would be held responsible for sourcing activities?  What are the non-critical path activities your team is responsible for today?

A robust intake session that is consistently performed by a true talent advisor engages the hiring manager and is the first step in driving hiring manager satisfaction scores. You recruiters just need to know that Mama Bear will be there to protect them.

This article is part of a series called How-Tos.
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