Recruiter Moxie: What to Do if Your Hiring Manager is Making Your Search a Living Hell

Scenario: What to do if your hiring manager is making your search a living hell.

With few exceptions, a senior level executive (hiring manager) is not a recruiter by profession. As a result, he or she may be under the mistaken impression that ideal candidates can be found lined up at your front door step ­– especially in this economy – when, in fact, the opposite is more likely to be true.  The flood of applicants is actually making it even harder for many of our clients to find the right candidate.  But that doesn't seem to matter as you attempt to explain why you haven't materialized a candidate out of thin air.   You watch on as your senior executive's jaw muscle flexes and as his complexion turns a shade of crimson you've never before witnessed.  Your grip tightens around the arms of the office chair in which you sit as you begin the silent countdown . You are confident he's going to blow.  

  • Do not take argumentative attacks personally.  Try to picture stepping aside as incoming volleys go past. Remain mindful.
  • You don’t have a “problem”:  you have an “opportunity” to improve recruiting results.
  • Realize the manager may be acting under duress as a result of pressures stemming from the economy and may lack the skill sets necessary to cope.
  • To gain his trust, increase your transparency: detail every thing that has been done on his behalf. Analyze what has and has not worked.  Then make recommendations.  In doing so, think out of the box. Innovate.

To prevent problems in the first place, I recommend that you or your search firm build search bullet-proofing into your search process: 

  • Test the requirements of the role.  “If I found a successful candidates with seven, not the required eight, years of experience, would you rather I not present them?”
  • Test the competitiveness of the role. “Are you confident this opportunity is competitive when compared to similar opportunities elsewhere?”  If the hiring manager says he doesn’t know, then that’s an opening for a dialog.
  •  Proactively scan for problems that may interfere with your search success and immediately document those disconnects in a report. Even if the hiring manager doesn’t take action, you now have proof you did your best to try to resolve the issue.
  • Request immediate feedback on candidates and underscore how doing so will benefit the hiring manager.

As the economy worsens, those in talent acquisition may feel it safer to keep their heads down and not speak up to deal with a problem searches and irritable hiring managers.  However, by speaking up and by solving problems, you become more valuable to your organization.

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