How to Succeed No Matter How Slammed You Are: Bridging the Gap between Management and Recruiters

By now, it’s a well-accepted fact that the job market has struggled to stabilize over the past couple of years. Job seekers – both active and passive – have hit roadblock after roadblock, and apparently, they aren’t alone. Corporate hiring managers looking to bring new talent on board are also facing their own set of challenges.

Case in point: I recently met with executives to discuss their recruiting needs and challenges, and was surprised to hear that despite today’s large pool of jobseekers, talent acquisition has been a bumpy road.  Slow candidate submittals and untimely recruiter responses seem to be the trend, resulting in frustration and confusion.

So whats’s going on? How has this disconnect arisen between management and recruiters?

In a word: communication. Or rather, lack thereof.

It’s important to remember that many hiring managers don’t understand your process and aren’t very interested. What’s important to them is the efficiency of candidate submittals. Of course they want to see candidates right now. And it’s up to you to continually set expectations and repeatedly explain the process every step of the way. 

What are you doing all day?

Non-HR/Staffing people have no idea what you, as a recruiter, are doing. They have no idea that it can take ten minutes or more to filter one applicant’s resume through a cumbersome ATS that contains gazillions of drop-down boxes and required fields. They likewise don’t know that three interviews can kill two hours – or more! – of your day, and that you are juggling hundreds of candidates, negotiating offers for multiple hiring managers and trying to source the Internet for passive candidates. Sourcing the Internet alone can make one hour go by in the blink of an eye.

And unfortunately they don’t want to know the nitty-gritty details either. What they do need to know, however, is when they can realistically expect to see the first round of resumes and when you’ll provide feedback from your phone screens. When you discuss the job requirements with hiring managers (you should have already researched the market data), make your recommendations and let them know when they can realistically expect to hear from you. And then, no matter the results, respond to them.

Never walk away from a meeting or hang-up a call without letting them know the turnaround time or next steps. When you set expectations properly and follow-up no matter what, you'll be winning even if the req hasn't been filled, yet.

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Comment by Amy Ala Miller on August 2, 2011 at 5:49pm

Tracy you are so right.  I am juggling over 30 open reqs across a few different business lines and have 12 hiring managers.  When one of them told me she needed a "daily update" I laughed so hard I nearly wet my pants.  :)


It IS all about managing expectations... we touch base (usually via e-mail) a few times a week and that is plenty.  So far we've had a couple of successful interviews but I tell you what when her positions are filled and she's off my desk for a few months I'll be cracking open the bubbly!

Comment by Paul S. Gumbinner on August 3, 2011 at 11:57am

Tracy: You are right.  Even HR doesn't understand what we do.  Nor do they understand how long it takes.  I try to tell my clients, especially hiring managers, that it takes me about twenty calls to find one candidate to interview and it takes ten interviews to get one submission. 


I am always amused by managers who tell me that they would like a candidate on board in two to three weeks.  Then they tell me that they are not available to do their first interview until the end of next week and that there are three other people in their organization who will have to interview the candidates.  And then, when I explain that if the candidate they choose is working, there will have to be a minimum of two weeks notice, they still tell me they want someone in a two or three weeks!  But  spelling out the process and putting the time table on the client's lap is a technique which seems to work.

I just had an incident where my client was looking for a recruiting manager.  It took them three months to interview the candidates I submitted.  After all these weeks, they decided to bring back one candidate whom they were probably going to hire, but it had been more than six weeks since her first interview.  Despite my bi-weekly calls to the candidate to keep her enthusiastic and involved, she took another job.  My client couldn't understand why the candidate wouldn't wait for them.


And then they got angry with me.  I realize that companies are very egocentric and cannot imagine why anyone they like could possibly want to go somewhere else!


Comment by Tracy Saunders on August 3, 2011 at 2:06pm

Paul, I hear you. Especially in today's market, candidates are more afraid than ever to wait around. As Recruiters we can only do our best to try to explain the importance of moving forward as efficiently as possible. Is this a new client or someone you have worked with for a while?

What you describe is one of our greatest challenges and we can only hope that our clients are reasonable and take our suggestions to heart.

Comment by Scott Corwin on August 3, 2011 at 2:56pm

It is all about setting expectations. Unfortunately clients often fail to meet their responsibilities but still hold the recruiter accountable. FTS tries to address this with open and honest communication. It is similar to scope creep in a project. A flow chart of “this equals that” helps sometimes.

Comment by Will Branning on August 3, 2011 at 4:07pm
It is also imporatant to set parameters and have agreements from hiring authorities about response times...I have one client that I'm informing that I will continue to not source for new candidates until they provide feedback on my candidate they phone interviewed almost two weeks ago and on two resumes I submitted over a week ago. Ah, the challenges of recruiting...


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