Human Resources Doesn’t Have to Be the Enemy

“You need to speak to HR.”

For recruiters, those words spell doom for your placement hopes. Let’s face it, if we had a choice most recruiters would prefer NOT to work with human resources. It’s nothing personal, but experience tells us that the hiring process grinds to a halt the instant HR is involved. The fact is that today, growing numbers of companies recruit through a centralized HR function, so avoiding HR is not an option. That doesn’t mean it has to be painful.

Follow this advice the next time you need to “speak to HR”:

Understand their predicament: Put yourself in HR’s shoes. Today’s HR teams are frequently criticized for their lack of leadership and creativity. The pressure is on to create a flawless candidate experience, tick all of the boxes on the job spec and eliminate the risk of a bad hire. Separate yourself from your competition. Present solutions, not problems.

Build trust: Building trust is essential in all successful relationships. Show your interest in their company and agree on the objectives they want to achieve with this hire. Ask questions. Demonstrate your knowledge of the market and typical profile of the candidates available. Today’s hiring managers, as well as corporate HR professionals are more in tune with their company’s culture and focus on candidate quality, which should make your job easier.

Establish ground rules: Time kills deals, we know that. As a recruiter, the buck stops with you in maintaining momentum. To achieve this you must understand every step of your client’s recruitment process. Find out who the final decision maker is. Establish the average number of interviews per hire and typical hiring time. (If HR doesn’t know these statistics you may have a problem.) Emphasize that time is of the essence in responding to qualified candidates on the shortlist and agree on a timeline for each stage of the hiring process. Qualified candidates have only a limited shelf life. Without establishing ground rules, you risk your assignment failing at the first hurdle.

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Collaborate: Involve HR as well as the hiring manager in the creation of your hiring strategy. Find out where their top performers have come from. What strategy will you need to make this particular search successful? Will social recruiting be involved? On which social networks is the company? What job boards have they used? What are their views on a database search? Explain that you network with high achievers on a daily basis and already have access to talent communities. The chances are, once they understand that they’ll leave you to it.

Make a pre-emptive strike: To compete in a talent starved market, employers must be clear on their culture and what they can offer talent. HR can be your ally in preparing hiring managers to hire quickly, consider hiring for potential and training for skill. Emphasize the need for a flexible approach to compensation, including benefits and long-term career development opportunities in order to attract talented candidates. 2015 is the year of the counter offer so there’s not time for negotiation tactics. The first offer must be compelling.

Share data: The emergence of big data and people analytics is influencing the way employers recruit. Used effectively, data provides invaluable insight into what’s working and what’s not. Share your search results with HR and the hiring manager and confirm they are seeing the type of candidates they want to see. If you’re slightly off the mark, adjust your recruiting strategy accordingly. Transparency and collaboration builds trust.

Recruiting is evolving and as a recruiter, it’s your job to hold the hiring process together. Treat HR as your friend, not your foe.

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