What Hat to Wear Today?

Counselor. Business Partner. Employee relations manager. Friend. Sales person. Supply chain manager. Steward of the law. A recruiter wears many hats. It is those who recognize, appreciate, and aptly wear these multiple hats concurrently ? putting on the right hats for hiring managers, candidates, and government regulators ? that distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack.

Let’s talk about how these hats converge to allow great recruiters to develop and deliver a pipeline of talent in the shortest time and most cost effective way.

Counselor: While it’s probably a fair assumption that not every recruiter has majored in Psych 101, I dare say that a recruiter fulfills the role of counselor to hiring managers and candidates on a daily basis. Hiring managers seek the counsel of market-savvy recruiters who can tell them about the market in which they are competing for talent. Recruiters “see the forest from the trees” when hiring managers sometimes can’t. Recruiters can thus challenge hiring managers on the reality and marketability of often-outdated, poorly written vanilla job descriptions that shape the hiring manager’s opinion of his/her needs. Many hiring managers have shared with me their appreciation for recruiters who ? knowing their business ? will challenge managers as to whether their job requirements really should just be preferences. They collaborate to develop exciting yet realistic job descriptions that will allow for a better sourcing strategy from the get-go. We all know that a strong sourcing strategy directly correlates with a higher quality of hire.

Let’s not forget about a recruiter’s role as counselor to candidates. Despite today’s competitive job market and the fact that candidates are frequently on the lookout for the next great opportunity, recruiters play an instrumental role in talking through what’s best for the candidate. And it’s often at a time when the candidate’s emotions are running high, self-doubt has set in, and the thought of making a potentially life-changing decision can bring even the most seasoned job-hopper to his/her knees. The recruiter becomes the voice of reason.

Employee relations manager: HR generalists may disagree (and perhaps worry about infringement on their turf), but a large part of a recruiter’s role is to head off potential employee relations issues when delivering unwanted news to internal candidates, who are convinced they are the perfect fit for the job. Or, in more extreme cases, recruiters do damage control after a hiring manager has broken the news or provided feedback in a less-than-desirable manner. It is often the recruiter who finds him or herself in a quasi-ombudsman role, helping emotional candidates come to terms with why this particular opportunity wasn’t meant to be.

Friend: I spend a lot of time talking to hiring managers, recruiters, and new hires, and I always smile when I hear these individuals talk about the friendships forged through the recruiting relationship. I recall with fondness my own initial conversations with a Johnson & Johnson recruiter as I contemplated a move to this company. When I finally arrived, I recall the excitement I felt when he took the time to personally call me and welcome me to Johnson & Johnson. Likewise, when I read a promotional announcement for one of “my” hires, I beam with pride, like a mother watching her child accept the diploma at high school graduation. The recruiter has fostered and cultivated the relationship from the start and in part enabled a new hire’s success by providing a great recruiting experience. Why wouldn’t you as a recruiter beam with pride when one of your hires goes on to do great things for the company?

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Business partner: Recruiters are not recruiters just because they love connecting people and opportunities. For hiring managers, not having the right talent at the right time in the most cost-effective manner can cripple their business. That’s where recruiters play a coveted and valuable role. Their insights and knowledge of the businesses they serve enable them to help hiring managers translate business goals and objectives into types of talent that can deliver those goals. They then help the hiring managers find that talent and land it. I often hear hiring managers comment about how recruiters are great business partners who help drive their business, and I couldn’t agree more.

Steward of the law: A recruiter’s role is not just to understand and abide by a long list of employment laws in the U.S. They help hiring managers, who may hire one person every five years and are less in touch with employment regulations, understand why equity and fairness in hiring practices are at the heart of the regulations.

Sales person and supply chain manager: Recruiters cover both ends of the spectrum of the people market. On one hand, recruiters are responsible for mining talent ? finding diamonds in the rough that might otherwise be passed over ? and then moving that talent through the maze of hiring chains filled with indecisive, ambivalent hiring managers or overbearing interview teams. On the other hand, it is the recruiter who becomes the front-line salesperson for the organization for which he or she recruits, extolling the virtues of the organization while providing fair balance so the candidate understands what he or she is really signing up for.

Which hat ? or hats ? are you wearing today?

Lisa Calicchio, SPHR, is Director of Recruiting -- Pharmaceuticals Team, for Johnson & Johnson Recruiting, the internal talent acquisition organization of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. In this role, Lisa manages the development and delivery of talent acquisition strategies and execution for Johnson & Johnson?s U.S. pharmaceuticals and biotechnology operating companies. In addition to managing this segment of the business and a significant client base, Lisa focuses on enhancing JJR's consulting capabilities through specialty teams for business analytics, training, and recruitment marketing. Her background includes extensive experience as an HR generalist and recruiting, though she started her professional career "on the line" and held several line positions across key functional areas before moving from sales and marketing into HR.

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