By Anne Bucher
Senior Vice President, Customer Experience

One of the most important relationships in a successful recruitment process is the one between the hiring manager and recruiter.

Bersin by Deloitte measured the top 15 performance drivers in a successful talent acquisition function and found that the hiring manager-recruiter relationship was No. 1 by a large margin. More so than those that you might think such as: other recruitment technology, Employer Value Proposition, employer brand, and even candidate experience. Having hiring managers and recruiters in sync is the greatest predictor for success.

And it makes sense when you consider that this pair must work closely together to create the sourcing strategy, then engage, interview and hire the talent that will take your organization into the future. The hiring manager is the expert on the job being filled, knowing what skills and personality are needed to do it well, while the recruiter brings expertise on the current labor market and what is realistic as far as the talent available and the timeline and tactics to bring them in. When they’re both on the same page, talent acquisition runs like a well-oiled machine, improving time to fill, quality of hire, and other important metrics.

In many cases, however, the dynamic between hiring managers and recruiters is weak. A troubling statistic shows that 57% of recruiters feel that hiring managers do not understand recruiting, while 63% of hiring managers feel that recruiters do not understand the jobs they are filling. This disconnect leads to talent acquisition dysfunction, resulting in long vacancies that cost your organization in productivity, morale and the bottom line.

Let’s explore steps that you as a talent leader can take to keep hiring managers and recruiters working together harmoniously.

Create alignment

As a talent leader, you have the power to build an environment where your hiring managers and recruiters can foster an effective partnership. You also can enlist a Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) provider to bring in proven approaches to positive collaboration. For example, at Cielo we have three experience goals we aim to achieve in our partnerships to establish communication and trust between hiring managers and recruiters:

1. Job scope: Whether it is a phone call or in person, hiring managers and recruiters should meet at the beginning of the process to talk about the role, and align expectations as far as timeline, communications, candidate availability and marketing strategy. Both parties should emerge with full understanding of the job to be filled, the talent that exist to fill it, and what to expect during the recruiting process. And the hiring manager must trust that the recruiter will deliver what they say they will. Communication should be ongoing with regular check-ins and recalibration whenever needed. Here are three elements you should include in your job scope discussions:

  • Process Guide & FAQ – Despite the label, hiring is not the main job for most hiring managers. They are kept plenty busy with their everyday tasks and aren’t in the habit of reviewing resumes, interviewing candidates and managing recruiters. Many may only hire one or two new employees a year. That’s why it’s vital to walk them through your organization’s recruitment process so that they know what they’re responsible for and how best to work with their recruiter. This FAQ could include training on how sourcing is done, best practices for job interviews, and reinforce the importance of regular check-ins. The better they perform their part within the process, the better they will partner with their recruiter, increasing the likelihood of better candidates.
  • Self-scheduled updates – Taken from our work in improving candidate experience, we supply automated voice technology that allows hiring managers to update the recruiter on changes to the job profile – like location, shift, or salary -- anytime 24-7. This eliminates much unnecessary back and forth and minimizes time delays whenever people can’t get together during business hours.
  • Market intelligence – Hiring managers often have unrealistic expectations about the talent market. And it is even more apparent in today’s tight labor market. So before your recruiter says, “Yep, I’m right on that!” to a request for a biomedical engineer who speaks Farsi and lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it’s important upfront to share what is realistic. As a talent leader, you need to equip your recruiters with the tools and data that allow them to educate during the job scope. For instance, they can pull profiles of past candidates who went on to have success in the position and look for new candidates with similar skill sets. Searching on sites like Glassdoor can yield great information about salary, reviews, competitor insights, etc. It’s important that recruiters know as much as possible about the role and come with recommendations on where the talent sits and how to engage them.

2. Candidate slate & interviewing – Hiring managers should trust that if they are bringing a candidate onsite to interview, they are well-qualified, knowledgeable, and presented within the agreed-upon timeline. This allows the hiring manager to conduct interviews focusing on the candidate’s experience and cultural fit. Here are three ways to make sure that happens:

  • Streamline interview – Between coordinating everyone’s schedules, and the length of time interviews can take (especially if multiple leaders are conducting them), efficiency is key. Interviewers need to know what questions to ask and be sure they are not all asking the candidate the same questions. This greatly improves candidate experience and provides HMs more relevant information about whether the person will be a good fit for the team.
  • Fast feedback loop – Instead of waiting until the hiring manager has turned down several candidates, make sure your recruiters feel confident enough to ask the HM if what they want has changed. This happens quite often once the HM sees more of what is – or is not – available in the market and is common for an inexperienced HM who isn’t quite sure what they’re looking for. Since scheduling debriefing calls or waiting on people to fill out surveys can be time consuming, consider having your recruiter send an email or text to the hiring manager to keep feedback flowing.
  • Candidate CliffsNotes® – Hiring managers have many demands on their time, so instead of passing along full resumes or audio files of interviews, it often works better to provide a quick, one-page document that outlines the top candidates’ relevant experience and their motivation in seeking new work. Creating a template goes even further in speeding things along so that they know what to look for to make quick, informed decisions.

3. Offer & onboarding – Considering all the work it takes to get a candidate in the door, interview them and hire them, the Aberdeen Group’s finding that 20% of turnover happens within the first 45 days is particularly deflating. Hiring managers need to understand what is expected of them during the offer and onboarding process and not be surprised by what the candidate requires in an offer. Elements to accomplish this include:

  • Total compensation game plan – When making an offer, both the recruiter and hiring manager should have a good idea of the package that the candidate will accept. This process needs to start at the beginning with the job scope rather than at the end. Too much back and forth at this stage will slow the process significantly and could result in losing the candidate. Establish the organization’s flexibility on compensation and other benefits, as well as the point at which they would just walk away. This will prevent the need to get approvals after the fact and avoid costly delays.
  • Offer letter template – It might sound surprising, but we often find that many companies lack an offer letter that clearly states details like paid time off, benefits, salary, bonus, etc. This can frustrate HMs because it leaves them without all the information they need or with concern that they might miss something when extending the offer. Consider building PDF templates with editable fields to lock down important information. Many Applicant Tracking Systems have offer letter template functionality, so go ahead and use it. We once worked with a company that had 30 different types of offers. By reducing the amount of options, HMs felt less overwhelmed when putting together an offer and didn’t live in fear of making a mistake. Business results included a much faster time to offer and a higher accept rate.
  • Onboarding best practice – Just as we recommended creating an FAQ during the job scope, it’s important to continue to help guide hiring managers through the onboarding process as well. Make a go-to guide with links to all the right sites and give them lists of provisioning triggers they can use to help their new employee have a smooth entry into the organization. In addition to making sure they have the equipment and logistical support they need on day one, we recommend providing the new employee with links to prior blogs you’ve written, videos from the CEO, and maybe set up lunches with one of their new colleagues to help them feel welcome.

Hiring managers and recruiters are each essential to winning in today’s market, and neither of them can do it alone. Following these steps will ensure that they work together, deliver a great candidate experience, and bring in the talent you need to move your organization forward.

Follow @annebucher on Twitter and connect with her on LinkedIn.