Recruitment interacting with HR - response to Recruitment International

Why do recruiters not interact with HR more?

By interact, I mean outside of the recruitment process. As David Head of Recruitment International raised in his September issue, why, for example, does the CIPD conference have not one recruiter on the speakers list? Strange seeing as recruitment (including succession planning, employee relations etc) makes up a large part of their role.

This lack of professional interaction can be explained by two main reasons.

1. HR do not see the value in inviting recruiters to speak because the ideal recruitment solution is inhouse - although this is not the reality

2. Recruiters do not see the value in attending these conferences because there is no direct link with the hiring line managers.

These two reasons really come under one umbrella: VALUE. It would appear that recruiters and HR do not see the value of interaction. The same could be said of RPO and recruiters, addressed by Stefan Ciecierski on June 29th in the Recruiter.

Both recruiters and HR are culpable for this lack of interaction. In the current lacklustre economy with a double dip recession (hopefully not) snapping at our heels, HR are going to be more involved with the recruitment process than ever before. Whilst it can be frustrating for recruiters not to have direct line manager contact, think of the benefits of working with HR can give you:

- helicopter view of an organisation including values, salary levels, environment, atmosphere etc

- a mutually beneficial, standardised process - you're both in the know

- quantifiable competition - HR are more likely to refuse yet another agency joining the recruitment process than the line manager is

- exposure to the wider organisation - HR interact with everyone in the organisation, giving you the opportunity to permeate further

I cannot emphasise this final benefit enough: if line managers recruit themselves directly, they will still ask HR for recommendations. You may not hear about these roles until it is too late and it is much harder to fix a relationship than it is to start one.

If you can agree with HR how you need to approach or how they want you to interact with them, you are halfway there. HR have described recruiters as belligerent: is this really the impression we want these powerful networkers to have of us? There is nothing wrong with being assertive and proactive, but belligerent is not acceptable.

But, I hear recruiters muttering in the background about HR being unavailable or not the decision maker or unwilling to give any information or allow new agencies onboard... the list is endless. But think about it, if a HR professional came to you for advice about how to interact with recruiters, what would you say to them?

As a recruiter (therefore in the know), you would probably say to them to pick and choose a select few agencies to work with, ones that they can be assured will deliver, and to not let others in the process. You would tell them to agree fees/margins so that the process doesn't get held up by negotiations every time. You would tell them to control interview times/dates so that they can make an informed decision based on a standardised interview process. You would tell them to have an indepth job description so that recruiters always have something to refer back to. You would tell them to control access to the line manager recruiting, so that they make an unbiased decision about the candidate.

As a recruitment consultant, does the above guidance sound like a process you would want? No, quite frankly.

However, as recruiters, we need to understand the realities of the inhouse recruitment process. When training new consultants, we consistently ask them to show empathy, but that doesn't seem to work the other way around.

One way of understanding this process is to interact with HR outside of the challenging recruitment process. And a great way to do this is at conferences such as the CIPD conference. Surely the VALUE of finding out what HR want and reeducating them about the challenges we face as recruiters, is business critical in the current context?

Let us hope, as David Head is suggesting, that a joint event will be forthcoming so that HR and recruiters can bury this animosity. Then a mutually beneficial relationship can finally be born.

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