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Aug 23, 2017

Ever go into a kickoff meeting, winging it with a hiring manager without having a strategic partnership plan? Recruiters can’t afford to not have a plan, as it may yield a heavy financial and non-monetary cost across the board.

Instead of putting yourself and your company at risk with these potential costs, here are some critical steps to creating an effective strategy and getting the most out of your meetings with hiring managers.

Focus on Your Hiring Manager Relationship From the Start

Having a great relationship with hiring managers is the No. 1 factor that separates all-star recruiters from average ones as found by Bersin by Deloitte. The best recruiters recognize that having a great relationship with hiring managers is a fundamental stepping stone to increasing one’s level of influence in serving as talent advisors.

Knowing how to adapt to a manager’s personality and put yourself in their shoes/heels is key to developing a successful relationship as a talent partner. Rather than making the manager feel like they’re going through another Q&A session, recruiters should challenge themselves to build rapport to make it a conversation and adapt accordingly.

Adapt to a Hiring Manager Personality  With the array of hiring manager personalities a recruiter gets to work with,  learn how they best communicate/operate. Some questions to ask oneself are:

  1. Is the hiring manager personable, or do they just want to get straight to business?
  2. Do they prefer communicating over the phone, email, or in-person?
  3. What’s the best time in the day to communicate with them?

Establish a Response Time Agreement  In a global talent acquisition study by The McQuaig Institute, 52.2 percent of recruiters mentioned that one of their biggest barriers in their performance was working with a busy manager. Instead of submitting candidates/prospects over to hiring managers and hoping to hear back in a timely manner, recruiters should establish an SLA and agree on a 24-48 hour response timeframe for feedback.

Convey the consequences of not receiving a response within that timeframe. These include potentially losing top candidates and possible loss of revenue & productivity for having to source in a competitive market. Right after the kickoff, send an email as a friendly reminder of your response-time agreement to help make it official.

If you’re still not getting a response, and you’re feeling bold, use Nellie Peshkov’s (Netflix’s VP of talent acquisition, and a past ERE speaker) approach where she makes it a practice to call hiring managers on their cell during dinner whenever she does not receive a timely response during the day. She is unwilling to sacrifice candidate experience. As long as recruiters have communicated the potential consequences of breaking the SLA and have developed a trustful partnership early on, this approach can help in receiving a critical hiring manager decision/response when needed.

Schedule Update Meetings  Not having constant meetings with managers can increase time to fill due to lack of communication about the candidate pipeline. Agree on having weekly follow-ups scheduled on the calendar for 15-30 minutes. Key items to discuss included candidate updates and market changes, as well as roadblocks that could be limiting your inbound/outbound pipeline. Confirm expectations if a meeting ever gets canceled and verify if managers prefer an immediate email recap or a reschedule.

Have a Recruitment Strategy

Develop a recruitment strategy that will be used as a brief one-pager to present with the meeting stakeholders. Some items that should be included consist of candidate pipeline building, outreach methods, and competitor lists. Recruiters must also make sure to have an agenda with goals and include all the key people who need to be involved.

A best practice by Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg proved to make Facebook’s meetings better by having employees send materials in advance as well as stating the purpose of a meeting ahead of time so everyone knows what their action items will be after each meeting. Similarly, recruiters can improve the quality of their kickoff meetings by sending their recruitment strategy and pre-screened candidates in advance.

Become a Subject Matter Expert — Instead of waiting for invitations to learn more about your products or services of your team, recruiters should make it a habit to invite themselves, and ask managers in their kickoff meetings when they will be having training sessions or business meetings in order to develop business acumen and better serve their team.

Competitive Intelligence — Use Hoovers, or Owler, to gather information on who the direct competitors are. Include them in your company target list. Confirm through your ATS, network, or LinkedIn if those companies have employees who hold similar positions. Prioritize accordingly. Anticipate that the hiring manager may want to bring in the new hire at a lower market rate than the average. Have compensation data ready to show in order to remain competitive when reaching out to prospects.

Present Pre-Sourced Potential Candidates  Upon receiving a requisition, recruiters can begin searching externally to find potential candidates ahead of time. Doing this will demonstrate initiative and also allow you to get a better idea of what managers are looking for. In order for recruiters to present the most accurate possible candidates at the intake meeting, a simple benchmark based on job title and responsibilities can be used to match against relevant profiles. A sample list of three profiles is a great starting point for demonstration.

Have a Kickoff Meeting Checklist  Have a list of questions ready before meeting with a hiring manager. These questions will assist in gathering information that will allow you to be of best service to both your candidates and your team you are hiring for. You can download my kickoff meetings checklist here.

Final Thoughts

Recruiters can’t afford not having a kickoff meeting recruitment strategy due to the potential loss in revenue and productivity. Feeling like there is not enough time or having an overwhelming amount of requisitions cannot serve as an excuse for not having a plan as the costs are too high. In order to become a world-class recruiter, master the fundamentals of hiring manager relationship building. Making the leap from good to great is a matter of establishing a strong partnership with hiring managers, which all starts with preparation.


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