Winning hearts and minds: how to build your influence in an in-house role.


Sophie Mackenzie - Senior Partner, Research and Business Support. AdMore Recruitment

However good you are as a recruiter, the biggest issue when moving to a new company or indeed, moving into your first in-house role, is how to build your influence internally.

There is so much to learn: the hierarchical structure of the organisation, the different business units and what they do, your key stakeholders in HR and in the wider business, the recruitment (and on-boarding) process and the intricacies of the pay scales and benefits package. You may also be joining from a different industry so will have to get to grips with your company’s USPs, their competitors, their geographical reach and the idiosyncrasies of the different role types you will be recruiting. If this is your first in-house role, you may be recruiting cross-functional roles of which you have no prior experience eg. Legal, Marketing, HR. If you will be recruiting technical specialists, you will have to learn an array of jargon and technical terms in order to understand what skills to look for on a CV. In short, all this needs to be done while simultaneously working through your list of vacancies and it is unlikely the business will give you much leeway while you get up to speed.

The challenge doesn’t end there. Once you start taking briefs from your hiring managers and managing candidates through the process, you will quickly realise the level of influence you do (or don’t!) have and the extent to which you need to influence. Line Managers may be inexperienced at recruitment or have an unrealistic view of the market. Being able to influence them does not happen over night. If you think it’s hard getting time to meet your clients on the agency side, it can be equally hard internally. You will get used to ‘pouncing’ on hiring managers if you pass them in the corridor (that is if you even know what they look like!) in the hope of getting feedback on some CVs. You will become best friends with their PAs in the hope of grabbing a crucial 15 minutes in their diary before they fly overseas for a week.

In larger businesses, you may never get to meet your hiring manager and so you need to become adept at getting your point across on the phone and reassuring them that their vacancy is in safe hands. You need to ensure they know that you are an EXPERT in recruitment and that they can therefore trust you to advise them appropriately. Unfortunately, they will only truly appreciate this after you have successfully filled some of their vacancies. As Mae West said, "an ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises".

So, knowing how hard it is to establish yourself in an in-house role, here is one tip to start increasing your sphere of influence.

As the in-house recruiter, you will often be the first point of contact the candidate has with your business. Chances are, you will be guiding them through the whole process, giving them feedback after interview, negotiating their offer and even looking after their on-boarding if you are delivering the 360° recruitment process.

Once the candidate starts you may never have contact with them again, particularly if you are working for a very large organisation. However, with a bit of planning, these candidates–turned- colleagues can be a powerful way for you to increase your influence internally.

  • We all know that, irrespective of the level you join a business, the first few days and weeks can be an anxious and lonely time. As their main point of contact throughout their recruitment process, offering to meet them for a coffee on their first day or in their first couple of weeks is not only a nice touch and surely good practice from an on-boarding perspective but gives you the opportunity to establish a relationship from the start. This is especially useful if the candidate is at a senior level and likely to be one of your internal clients in the future.
  • In this initial meeting, use the opportunity to get the candidate’s feedback on their recruitment process, good and bad. This can be particularly insightful, providing you information on the candidate experience you and your team are delivering and crucially, the experience the candidate has had if represented by an agency.
  • This is also a great time to ask the candidate for referrals – do they have any recommendations of former colleagues that you could approach? If they have restrictive covenants in their contract, this will prevent them from approaching former employees directly so this could be a useful way of getting round this, in addition to giving you access to passive candidates.
  • If your new colleague is likely to be hiring in the future, it is useful to understand their attitude towards agencies and who they rate. Depending on how much control you have over the PSL, knowing who your hiring managers have existing relationships with will help ensure you stay one step ahead when a vacancy goes live.
  • You should also use this as an opportunity for some PR. Make sure your new colleague knows what the recruitment process is and who they should contact if they need to recruit. Talk to them about any challenges you face attracting staff and what methods you use to source candidates. This is a great way to emphasise the critical role of recruitment in the organisation and to ensure that your new colleague takes this message with them as they begin their role.

By doing this with every candidate you hire, irrespective of level, you will soon build up your own network of contacts internally. By keeping in contact with them, you will learn more about differing business areas and functions and ultimately have more influence when they in turn start to hire their own teams.

Read my other blogs about moving in-house here: Leaving the dark side , a match made in heaven ,how to win the heart of an in-house recruiter

Sophie Mackenzie - Senior Partner, Research and Business Support. AdMore Recruitment

Views: 197

Comment by Ryan Harding on February 28, 2013 at 10:06pm
Great content here! I just moved from agency to internal, and I was shaking my head up and down agreeing with you hike reading this. Thanks for sharing.


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