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Best recruitment practices for bridging the gap between recruiters and hiring managers

Lauren Skuchas
Partner, Managed Service
November 18, 2022

Hiring managers and recruiters are always on the hunt for the “perfect” candidate, but the perfect candidate is a myth like a unicorn or a purple squirrel. 

While recruiters and hiring managers share the common goal of hiring the best candidate for the job, there remains a disconnect between the two in the recruitment process. Keep reading to learn more about turning recruiting challenges into a fruitful partnership for your business.

Lauren Skuchas, Partner of Managed Services at Findem, sat down with Zach Chodor, Voray Community Leader, to talk about the best recruitment practices for bridging that gap. Here are excerpts of their conversation. 

I have been working with a hiring manager who just keeps asking to see more candidates. How do I make them understand that the “perfect candidate” doesn’t exist? You have to form people to the role.

I love it! That is the recruiting 101 challenge. First and foremost, you start with a really data-driven approach to your hiring manager. Put on your lawyer hat and think of it as presenting the case as to why things are the way they are. And these are facts, not opinions. 

Your hiring manager might not believe that you're doing the most, but you aren't a never ending supply of amazing people, and we can’t just manufacture the perfect person. So, coming to that manager with a data-driven approach looks like this: Here's what you're asking of me, here's how many people exist in the world or in this market, and here’s how many of those people meet the expectations that you've set out. I've talked to this many people, I've reached out to these people. Break down your funnel of activity. 

You could also share your intention to change email content, if you’re not getting a high enough response rate. Or you could recommend looking at fewer years of experience because a specific degree might be more important to the hiring manager.

Do you have any best practices for working out must-haves vs nice-to-haves in candidates?

This is a really good best practice to play around with on the front end of a search. You have the key requirements — let's start with those as your must-haves. Then add what the hiring manager really wants from a candidate. 

This is as easy as toggling a button on Findem’s platform. You can fill out a very comprehensive search, but then use those toggles to see the impact on the candidate pool. For example, in real-time you can see candidates who majored in a STEM field in college, which could be a hot item for a hiring manager. 

While that search may have a negative impact on the total candidate pool, I might add another layer to see only candidates who’ve graduated from one of the top 100 engineering universities. There are plenty of ways to find different attributes and generate a good pipeline of people that balances quality and volume.

How do you hire for potential vs hard skills?

That's a great case for attribute-based sourcing who is somebody versus what has somebody done? What we find in keyword searching is that you're looking for keywords on somebody's background, something that they're calling out that they've done before. But what if they're capable of more?

Looking into other hires who fit that bill is a great place to start. Where did they come from? What was their path? You could look at somebody who has received a lot of promotions, for example. They might have high potential for a more senior-level role that they haven’t actually qualified for yet.

How do you actually target someone who has “a lot of promotions?” You need a tool that can uncover the areas you’re not manually looking at, that can assess each individual profile to find candidates who might not have the traditional skills you normally target.

I’m a recruiter at a large tech company. A major pain point of mine is unrealistic expectations. How should I best communicate quality vs speed to my hiring managers?

A really consultative approach to take with your hiring manager might start by saying, ‘This is the benchmark from your last quarter stats,’ or by asking them, ‘When was it good for you?’ Pull those stats, so you have a baseline, and can be really honest about where you are moving forward. 

Coming prepared for those calls can mean having a talent pool, but it can also mean providing internal insights. Talk about reasons why candidates have not worked out. It's great to see who's being hired, to double down on more of those types of people. But why aren't people making it through the interview process? How many people are replying to our Inmails, or emails? Why did these seven people out of your 25 top people respond: No, thank you due to compensation or they don’t want to come into the office. That's tangible information that you can provide to that hiring manager about why you're not able to deliver and why it's taking you longer. Be very clear and tactical in presenting that data. They can't argue that. The market is going to speak for itself.

My team fills roles across multiple departments (i.e sales, marketing, engineering, product, etc.) What is the best way for recruiters to gain department specific knowledge so they can understand each role better?

Having verticals is really important on a talent team. Having cross-functional visibility is lovely for a junior person who's learning about an organization and honing in on their skills. 

When it comes to the relationship with hiring managers, being able to cultivate and work with the same people over and over again is a beautiful thing. It also mitigates the game of telephone that happens all too often.

If I'm working on an AE role, for example, and then my colleague opens up an enterprise AE role, there's so much information that's lost and not translated to the other person. Furthermore, this new person is going to be starting from scratch with potentially the same hiring managers, but for a different role. 

it’s important to avoid that, unless you're working with a really small team and you just need the coverage.

How can we best position internal employees to hiring managers while still keeping a competitive recruitment process?

Love it! One of the things that we are seeing with a change in the market is how to make the most of your current employee base. Let’s say you’re working on retention, but your budget for headcount is diminishing. This is the perfect opportunity to be looking at internal talent for open roles. 

What you need though, is a recruitment tool that can help you focus on internal candidates. What we have at Findem is a tool that allows you to create a search for internal talent and apply that search against your ATS as a source of data. 

That gives you the power to look, as an example, for an engineer with eight years of experience or more. The platform can actually surface people who meet the criteria among current employees, past applicants, or people who you've interviewed in the past. The key there, though, is the ATS data refresh. An inbound candidate who we passed on because they were so far off spec, maybe now, with two more years of experience, could be the right fit. 

Having an application that you can actually apply a sophisticated search against your current data can uplevel the information that you're getting out of your ATS. You can uncover latent talent, which also includes your own current employees. 

That is really critical when it comes to retention. It's providing people an opportunity for growth within your organization. And they should be the safest hire to make since you already know them. They already work for you. That's just such a smart way of looking at your talent pipeline as a first stop before doing your sourcing. 

What are the best processes you’ve found for hiring managers to give feedback to recruiters?

It depends on the tools that you have. If you have an ATS, for instance, you can easily capture feedback. But I still see really modern companies using spreadsheets to collect and pass on information in regards to interviews and what worked and what didn't.

Whatever you're using, it needs to be consistent across all hiring managers and recruiters. It needs to be used throughout the entire interview process. I recommend keeping feedback in a platform of some kind so you can reread it.

Do you think it is beneficial to include hiring managers earlier in the interview process so they can understand the sourcing process better?

Having somebody who wants to be so engaged is a really great sign for your relationship. And making sure you have clear expectations of each other is important.

Be really clear about why they are sitting in. Is it because they're unsure you're doing a good job? If so, then maybe you haven't defined the process well enough to establish trust. Is it because they understand that they have something to learn about qualifying candidates and overall candidate experience? Wow, what a great curious hiring manager to have. 

You don't want to overwhelm a candidate and make them nervous too early in the interview process. If you’re conducting Zoom calls for your interviews, recording them and sending them to the hiring manager gives them a chance to act as a fly on the wall, without actually sitting in on the call.

How are the talent teams typically structured these days?

I’m seeing two trends right now as talent teams try to reduce costs or restructure their organization. The first is to hire pure sourcers, who aren’t just less expensive talent, but can do a chunk of the heavy lifting. On the flip side, I've also seen teams getting rid of the recruiting coordinator position and keeping a leaner team of full-cycle recruiters. 

Either way, you've got to be really clear about the intention of why you’re making these choices. Cost reduction is great, but what is the impact to your internal customers, your hiring managers? 

The first option has your hiring managers collaborating directly with very junior-level sourcers. The latter option gives your team more opportunity for retention and growth, but also invites turnover that wouldn’t exist without senior-level positions available.

There’s a lot of different things to think about there. While I don’t feel confident calling one approach the “best,” those are the two trends I’m seeing today.

How do you better communicate with hiring managers with multiple positions to fill that they need to communicate priority roles with you? I find it much harder to conduct a search when I don’t have a clear level of urgency.

This might be obvious, but having a very clear conversation at every intake meeting about priorities and goals. The hiring manager is always going to say, “I needed to hire this person yesterday.” Okay, literally, here are the three roles I'm working on with you. Where does this fall in the stack? Here are the 10 roles I have opened for your department, where does this new role fit in my priority list? 

Use these meetings to be transparent, to be clear about your workload and how you want to deliver for them. It’s a positive approach where you're saying, “I want to make this just as much of a priority as it is for you. So you tell me where that lands in your world.” 

The hard part is when you have conflicting priorities with different managers in different departments. That's when you get your own manager involved and say, I need a clearer understanding of how I'm spending my time.

What about having recruiters reach out on behalf of the hiring manager using their LinkedIn account? Does that help with candidate engagement?

That works great. Findem allows you to do that on a large-scale basis, where you can actually have that hiring manager connect their email, and you can send emails on their behalf. So email outreach comes from your engineering manager’s email address, but you actually own the campaign, the content, and you can be really clever about how you word things.

You can say, “My engineering manager, Susan, is really interested in your background for XYZ,” or, you know, “Susan's reaching out, saying, I'm really interested in your background for XYZ reasons, please reply with your availability.” You can then add, “My colleague, Lauren, is going to schedule a first round phone screen with you.” 

That way, you're being honest and forthcoming about the process. You don't want to ever bait and switch a candidate. There's no easier way to not get a callback or response after someone realizes they're not talking to Susan, but that they're going to be talking to you.

How can you tell if someone is truly mission driven or just a good interviewer?

Mission-driven can mean so many things. You have to have a really clear understanding of what that means to your organization and what that value represents to your team. 

Mission-driven can be doing things for the greater good, which would be like a teamwork or team aspect. Mission-driven can also be volunteer work and really community-driven.

Making sure that you're aligned on the meaning itself could be a good starting point. Ask candidates for examples of the work they’ve done, what it means to them, and have them share an example of their accomplishments. See what they come up with in their own words to see if their values align with the company values.

How much does the process change when the hiring manager has their own candidate pool?

What a great hiring manager to have, right? They have their own talent pool that they're interested in and maybe their own network of people that they know from the past. That's great. 

Referrals are such a great place to start with every single new open role. It is sort of low hanging fruit; there's less of a sell to make and in a competitive market, it’s nice to have a direct line to somebody that you know and trust already. So I consider that a really positive sign. 

But, be cautious of how likely you are to actually close people from that network or from referrals. And as a recruiter, you'd still need to own an additional pipeline for that hiring manager. And one of the things that immediately came up in my mind is at Findem, we have a profile feature where you can actually just copy-paste someone's LinkedIn profile, and it creates a search based on that person. 

How challenging is it to pipeline diverse IT professionals to work in the office?

It's really important to address your pipeline as a pool of people who you feel competently represent diverse qualities. We want to get away from the bias of hand selection and making assumptions. But we do want to make sure that we're including people with diverse backgrounds, genders, and ethnicities defined internally by your organization. They must be well represented in your total addressable market when you're reaching out to folks. 

That’s where we see attribute-based sourcing working well for engineering. Think about moms who've maybe been out of the workforce; is your sourcing excluding those types of people who could actually be a fit for the role, but don't meet your keyword searches? 

You really need to be conscientious about how you're sourcing the total talent pool to make sure you are still up leveling your hires and making quality hires, but also incorporating diversity.

If you’d like to hear Lauren’s conversation in its entirety, check out the full webinar. And if you’d like to see how Findem can help you bridge the gap between recruiters and hiring managers, request a free demo today.