Does Your Business Trust Your Recruiting Team?

Not the kind of trust that makes people wonder if they’d leave their dog with you for the weekend. I’m more interested in whether your business leaders trust your company’s recruiting professionals to do their jobs. The answer to this question could have a wide-ranging impact on your organization’s ability to hire the best people.

Managing the Micromanagement

In a high-trust organization, hiring managers trust recruiters to write job posts, source talent pools, screen applicants, and present the top candidates for interviews. 

Let’s be honest, though. This seldom happens. 

It’s more typical to customize the screening process to a hiring manager’s preferences, which could mean the hiring manager wants to review every single resume, even when there are 300+ applicants for a role. And if you’re really lucky, your hiring managers want you to print out each resume so they can review them at home. Then they want to phone-screen every single candidate, but they don’t want to use your recruiting screening questions because they’ve been hiring for 20 years and what does a recruiter know about call centers anyway?

And once you finally get to the point where you have found an excellent candidate, the hiring manager second-guesses the decision and wants you to find just “a few more” people to talk to, just to be safe. 

As you can imagine, every step at which a hiring manager doesn’t trust the recruiter or the recruiting process adds time — time that organizations can ill-afford to take for the most competitive roles. Not to mention the message it sends to candidates: Would you want to work for an organization that doesn’t trust people to do their jobs?

All of which is to say that your business leaders either respect your expertise as a TA professional…or they don’t. They either see you as a talent advisor…or they view you as an order-taker. They either trust you to help them find the talent they need…or they tell you to find the talent they need. 

A Matter of Trust

Any time you really want to understand the trust level inside an organization, start with a current-state assessment of the business processes. When it comes to recruiting, for instance, I always begin with the requisition-approval process. While it’s true that recruiting is seldom involved at this point, they do receive the outcome of it. So it makes sense that recruiting professionals should be involved in a stage that sets the tone for the entire process. 

Part of setting that tone entails a discussion about metrics. Thing is, I have an aversion to most recruiting metrics. They’re contrived and designed more to make you feel like you’re doing something rather than actually doing something. It’s therefore important to measure KPIs that actually make a difference to the success of the recruitment so it becomes possible to identify where issues come up. Then use data to show how things like resume-hoarding, “just one more” syndrome, and other undesirable behaviors are impacting the organization’s ability to hire. 

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The most important metric that I recommend recruiting teams keep track of? How long it takes to approve a requisition. 

If approvals must go all the way to the CEO — even for backfills — that’s a sign the organization may have some trust issues. (Before you protest that couldn’t possibly happen, I know of multiple large organizations that have this process in place.) Because the CEO is reviewing every req, questioning the business’ ability to make the best decisions, there is added pressure on each and every hire. That mistrustful attitude trickles all the way down to the hiring manager, which impacts the recruiter-hiring manager relationship. 

It Takes Two to Make a Thing Go Right

Ultimately, the No. 1 thing recruiting leaders should do is build relationships. Make sure you have a good understanding of each department’s needs and challenges. Have a good grasp of the market and what the talent pool looks like. Talk to hiring managers and get a feel for their level of comfort with hiring in general. Make them feel heard and understood. Then help your recruiters build relationships with their stakeholders. 

Once you’ve established that relationship and built trust with business leaders, you can refine your hiring process to be as standard as possible, with wiggle room where it’s absolutely necessary. Create a feedback loop to check in with the business and see if it’s still working for them, without compromising quality and efficiency. 

Trust takes time to establish and work to nurture. But the effort always pays off in the end. 

Mary is a principal with IA, a boutique consulting firm focused on HR transformation. She is also a talent strategist and business leader with almost 15 years experience in helping organizations achieve their goals. After working on the operations side of start-ups and small companies, Mary landed in HR by way of learning and development, with extensive experience in leadership and organizational development, coaching, key talent planning, talent acquisition, performance management, business partnering, HRIS, process and policy creation, and instructional design.

In addition to her work within companies, Mary authors a leadership development blog called Surviving Leadership to continue the dialogue around the challenges of leadership – both being a leader and being led. 

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