This article is sponsored by Dropbox, see their open positions here (including some great roles on their Global Recruiting Team).
There are few more important relationships in an in-house recruiter’s life than the ones shared with their hiring managers. Like any meaningful relationship, there will be ups, downs and everything in between. Your partnerships with hiring managers won’t always feel like a joyful moonlit walk on a beach, but nor should it ever feel like hand-to-hand combat.
Here are 5 top tips for developing the partnership of your dreams, which will hopefully translate to building the team and culture of your dreams, too.
1. Develop genuine expertise
As an in-house recruiter, your job is to help the business grow, not just to fill open roles blindly. You’re searching for your future colleagues, with whom you’ll build working relationships and forge genuine bonds. Ultimately, the success of the entire business hinges on the people that you and your hiring managers bring in. So, you’d better start learning your business inside and out.
Whether you work in tech, FMCG, manufacturing, e-commerce or any other industry, the message is the same: an in-house recruiter should act as a business partner to hiring managers, not simply as a staffing resource. It’s up to you as the recruiter to research your company’s business model, the competitive landscape, and the nuances of the team for which you’re hiring. Gaining a genuine understanding of why you’re trying to hire a specific profile for a certain role will make you twice as credible to external candidates and internal hiring managers alike.
This extends to your expertise on the talent pool from which you’re trying to hire. As the in-house expert, it’s your job to arm yourself with relevant data about the external talent market, in order to provide your hiring managers and interview teams with valuable insights from the first to the last days of a search. Leverage the power of LinkedIn data, use your extended network, conduct qualitative critical research on your talent competitors…don’t stop until you feel like the credible expert you should be.
2. Communicate, communicate, then communicate some more
Over-communication really isn’t a thing when it comes to your partnerships with hiring managers, especially if you’re both in different geographical locations. While a hiring manager may think they know each and every little thing that recruiters do, the chances are that they really don’t understand the full nuanced process of kicking off a complex search and selection process. Now, this isn’t your opportunity to try and gain sympathy or complain about how tough a role is to fill: you’re not leaning on them as a therapist, after all. However, it is your duty to inform your hiring manager of the steps you’re taking, the effort you’re making and what you expect from them and their interviewing team.
Give regular progress updates (once per week is usually sufficient, but have the conversation with your hiring manager and gauge their preferences) and ensure that you’re managing expectations appropriately.
Remember, you’re the hiring manager’s business partner, not just the hired help, so don’t be afraid to be honest and push back when appropriate.
3. Understand your numbers
The majority of hiring managers with whom you’ll work won’t have been recruiters in past lives, so there’ll be a limit to the level of depth they’ll want you to go into regarding the philosophy underpinning your hiring approach. One thing that will resonate with hiring managers from all backgrounds is an accurate numerical approach to reporting your results. While we all know that modern recruiting is not simply a ‘numbers game’, having a firm grasp of your pipeline and the numbers within it is vital to gain trust and respect. Think of it simply as a funnel: how many qualified candidates do you have at each stage of the interview process?
Once you’ve compiled a meaningful report, you can start diving deeper into how you’re going to increase those numbers and (more importantly) how you’re going to augment the conversion rates from each stage to the next, in order to hone the overall hiring process. After the initial couple of meetings using this framework, you’ll be able to adapt and tailor your approach to one that’s mutually suitable for you and your hiring manager (this is a two-way partnership, after all!). Bottom line: know your numbers. Hiring managers will love you for it.
4. Be worthy of trust
Nobody wants to be lied to, do they? Our roles as in-house recruiters are incredibly multifaceted. We are guardians of the company culture and work cross-functionally with internal and external stakeholders of all levels of seniority on a daily basis. To do all of this successfully, there’s one thing that we need to be: worthy of trust.
It goes without saying that being trustworthy is a key facet of the job externally (i.e. having confidential conversations with people looking for the next step in their careers), but it’s equally important to build partnerships and credibility internally. Hiring managers want to build mutually trusting, honest, and open partnerships with their recruiters. Ultimately, hiring managers need to feel as though they have their finger on the pulse of the staffing needs of their department and thus they don’t want to be lied to!
Learning to manage the expectations of your hiring managers is a key skill for any in-house recruiter master. We all know that the pressure is on to fill roles whenever there is open headcount, but if a role is not going to close next week, then don’t tell your hiring manager that it will! There’s nothing worse than having to back-peddle and come up with lame excuses when you’ve been disingenuous: behaviour like this will erode trust quicker than you can say, “it’ll close next week, I promise!”. Be organised and report to your hiring managers in an accurate, timely fashion: it’s the only way to build and maintain a trusting partnership.
5. Provide every candidate with a best-in-class experience
One thing that will strengthen your partnership with your hiring managers is having them really respect the way that you work. Again, differentiating yourself from the archaic stereotype of recruiters being staffing agents with no significant business value other than providing CVs on a weekly basis, is key to the success of your partnership.
You need to demonstrate that you go the extra mile and that you’re equally adept at generating excitement in candidates as you are at screening them for role-related suitability. Having well-informed, enthusiastic, and well-qualified candidates moving forward in the interview process after their initial conversations with you is the most powerful thing you can do to up your credibility levels. If your hiring managers see the effort you make to provide best-in-class service to each and every candidate (regardless if the candidate is hired), then they’ll have no choice but to respect you as a true business partner and a skilled professional.
In short, as with any partnership, your relationship with your hiring managers won’t become perfect overnight. However, hopefully some of the above points will help you to build the hiring manager/recruiter partnership and the high performing team culture of your dreams!
About the author: Alex Duell is on Dropbox’s European Recruiting team.