I believe in Human Resources and corporate recruiters. They fill a necessary function at most companies. They insure that there are no duplicate submissions of résumés, they coordinate meetings, they screen to insure that candidates meet the standards of the job and the company. However, with respect, they should allow outside recruiters to deal directly with hiring managers when it comes to job specifications and follow up on interviews. It would speed up the process immensely.
Outside recruiters, because they have to find the appropriate candidates, know the exact questions to ask in order to find the right candidates; they are adept at creating actionable and realistic job specifications. And, if they are good, they should be able to work quickly and efficiently.
Not too many years ago recruiters worked directly with the hiring managers at many companies. By working directly with those responsible for the ultimate hiring, It allowed recruiters to understand the nuances and personality differences among the various groups and hiring managers. I am sure that most recruiters will tell you that the hiring process was faster, more efficient and smarter.
Case in point: A few weeks ago, I received an assignment from human resources for an account director on a new account at an advertising agency. I spoke to HR and asked permission to speak to the hiring manager. Reluctantly, I was told who it was and it turned out to be someone I knew well. Following is a slightly abridged version of the specs which were provided by HR and by the manager:
From Human Resources
We need an account director. Very strategic. To work on a new product. Should be someone with lots of ideas and who can think through a new product introduction. I was then told the product category but was told that category experience might not be necessary. HR did not know the name of the product.
From the Hiring Manager
Need an account director for a new product. This product that has never existed; its category, while related to some existing products, has never been marketed before. So we need someone very creative, highly strategic, who can think on his or her feet. There is no road map since this product is entirely new. This should be an exciting opportunity for a strategic and creative advertising account manager. We need someone who can work on their own, without any industry guidelines but who can instill confidence in the client and work with the client as a partner. Will be doing everything from concept development, product naming and testing through to development of advertising executions. Category experience is unnecessary, but extensive new product development experience is essential. We would prefer someone who is strategic but has come from a creative oriented ad agency.
While the essence of the specs was identical, the nuance and context was far more revealing from the hiring manager. The hiring manager told me that all this information had been told to the HR director who told the HR manager, who told me. Ultimately, it is like a game of telephone with each successive person making minute but critical changes to the communications. The written job specs were useless.
Since I had a relationship with the hiring manager, I was able to determine who the right candidates were in terms of personality and fit within the company’s culture. Before I spoke to the hiring manager, I was not sure where to look or who the right candidate might be. After speaking to the manager, I knew exactly who to send.
The placement was made within two weeks, start to finish. I involved HR at every phase of the process, copying them on all emails, leaving voice mails each time an appointment was set up and providing feedback on each of the three candidates I sent. I worked with human resources on reference checking and then during the offer negotiations. It was a smooth partnership.
I wish more companies worked this way. It would expedite and simplify the hiring process. Unfortunately, there are many human resources people who insist that the only way they can add value is to insinuate themselves into the process. I am not suggesting that HR abdicate their responsibilities by simply sending résumés they receive on to the hiring manager and asking if they want to see the candidate. I am suggesting that we can partner with both HR and the hiring manager to insure a smooth flow of information and the submission of totally appropriate candidates.