Almost every training class, seminar and professional group I’ve attended has warned that human resources departments are the recruiter’s obstacle. They block deals! They cut our fees! I’ve been repeatedly cautioned to avoid HR departments and get access to the hiring managers. But I would like every recruiter to know that I have billed millions of dollars throughout my recruiting career largely due to one department: human resources.
Before you call me crazy, I certainly understand the need to work with hiring managers. I prefer, however, to have human resources introduce me to the hiring managers and then have the HR manager quarterback the deal.
Yes, many of us avoid human resources because working directly with hiring managers can lead to quicker placements. But let’s face it – hiring managers can be sloppy. A “quick” placement has often not been properly screened and can be a potential landmine. Nothing smashes a relationship with a company like a candidate who doesn’t cut it at work or quits six months after starting.
During the economic downturn of 2008-2010, and subsequent HR cutbacks, I worked with several hiring managers. Some hiring managers made offers to my candidates before the applications were completed. In one case, a client had to rescind an offer once it was learned that the candidate had a felony.
How HR Helps
Here’s one example of why you should go through HR:
After briefly interviewing a young candidate who said he had a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, I sent his resume to the hiring manager and waited for feedback. Within a few hours, the hiring manager reviewed the resume, quickly contacted the candidate, and asked him to fly out for an interview. Instead of thoroughly screening the candidate, the hiring manager emotionally determined this candidate was an excellent fit for the position. The hiring manager never once called me to discuss the candidate or ask me to further screen the candidate. Actually, if the candidate had not called me, I would not have known that the hiring manager had even spoken to him.
After the on-site interview, the hiring manager quickly offered the job to the candidate, and the candidate accepted. Corporate HR then stepped in, ran its routine background checks, and found the candidate actually did not have a degree in chemical engineering. The hiring manager called me, absolutely furious, screaming that I misrepresented the candidate. I, of course, called the candidate who explained that although he did “walk” at his graduation, he was still finishing his last course.
I almost lost the client due to impulsive actions by a hiring manager.
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HR Crosses Your “T”s and Dots “I”s
Human resources will take longer to approve placements because HR is very thorough, dotting every “i” and crossing every “t.” It will, however, ensure a better, lasting match for the position, which is ultimately best for the recruiter and the client.
Like all professions, there will be some human resources professionals who do not want to work with recruiters; this comes with being a headhunter. However, in my experience, most HR professionals clearly understand the need to fill open positions as well as the great amount of work require. Most HR professionals are swamped with work, and simply do not have the time to even think about recruiting candidates for positions. In fact, I know many HR professionals who have gone to their hiring departments and advocated for the need to pay headhunters.
Absolutely do not try to bypass human resources. Remember, human resources is your key to future placements with the client. If you know that HR is handling a position yet go directly to the hiring manager, you most likely will not receive another job order from that company. To put it simply, your work with that company will be done. If you had respected protocol and worked with human resources, these same HR professionals could have given you countless opportunities within their company. Also, in this economy it’s likely that an HR professional may eventually be working for a new company, providing the favorite recruiter with a new client.
Make HR Your Ally
The success I’ve had with my #1 client has been based on great relationships with its HR departments. I have placed more than 100 candidates with this client, including eight HR managers with the company. I made it my priority to know many of the HR managers on a personal level, and I consider many of them to be my professional friends. We may not go out every weekend, but we certainly will take the time to go out to dinner when our paths cross.
These HR professionals aren’t hurdles for recruiters. They’re an ally.