It’s just a matter of fact that . You know what I’m talking about; unlike their more mainstream peers, difficult hiring managers have a real propensity to adversely impact key facets of the talent acquisition process. Regrettably, as relates to candidate engagement and candidate interviews, these individuals have been blessed with a tremendous ability to regularly shoot themselves in the foot.
In this two-part Blog, I’m going to address several worthwhile strategies that can help you to forge better hiring manager relationships, and simultaneously realize a happier overall existence. But, first let me take you back in time: A few years ago, I delivered a training presentation on the relationship between employment branding and candidate experience to a group of talent acquisition leaders. Specifically, the presentation attempted to address key qualities and attributes that candidates might consciously or subconsciously evaluate when considering a prospective employer. In preparing for this presentation, I produced what I refer to as the Candidate Hierarchy of Wants & Needs.
I simply set out to capture a baseline list of the qualities or attributes that candidates would regard as being important, desirable, or essential when considering a prospective employer. As you can undoubtedly appreciate, “Likeable Peers & Managers” easily made my list. I mean, after all, who’s going to say, “Nah…I don’t really need to “Like” the people I work with….” In fact, the next time your killing time at the water cooler, try asking your colleagues if they would join an employer, despite not liking or respecting prospective peers or managers. Most – if not all – are going to quickly respond by saying, “No Thanks!”
So, as recruiters, we are left with an interesting quandary: How do we help difficult or challenging hiring authorities help themselves (or at least avoid hurting themselves)? How do we help candidates get past the brusque, or abrasive, or tepid or milk toast demeanor exhibited by some hiring managers? In addressing these questions, it is worth noting that as much as working with a difficult hiring authority can present real challenges, these situations also present a very tangible opportunity to bring significant value-add to our organization (or client firm). In particular, if we can help a difficult or challenging hiring authority optimize his or her approach to engaging and interviewing candidates, or, if we can help to equip them with a game plan that will yield a more effective hiring process, we are far more likely to earn their respect, and may even be counted as a trusted advisor. But, how exactly, do we accomplish this? What can we do or say that will positively influence a hiring manager’s perspective and behavior towards candidate prospects, (and perhaps even to us)?
At the end of the day, as with most things in recruiting, our success in working with any hiring manager comes down to effective communications. There are several communication strategies that you may find to be useful, especially when working with a hiring manager whose personality, expectations, or work style are enigmatic or difficult: In particular, however, you must be a Proactive Communicator: Most individuals try to limit their communications with difficult colleagues. But, If you’re working with a particularly challenging hiring manager, try communicating MORE, not less.
In a way this may seem counter-intuitive, after all, why would you want to spend any more time than is necessary communicating with someone who may not be an especially pleasant person with whom to interact? Well, because it’s the only way that you will be able to cultivate a shared perspective, wherein you identify potential impediments to hiring, and ultimately make recommendations that enhance the manner in which the hiring authority engages candidates. Now, I’m not suggesting that you “bury the hiring manager” with correspondence about any and every candidate that you might have occasion to consider on the manager’s behalf, and I’m not suggesting that you transmit 10 – 12 messages a day with hourly status updates, nor am I suggesting that you email the resumes of 50 different prospective candidates – each accompanied by specific qualifying questions – although I’ve known of recruiters who have done all of the above….to make a point. What I’m trying to suggest is that if you can open up the lines of communication, and if you can bring valid, consistent, factual, and unemotional perspective, you will be heard (at least some of the time!), and you will find that the manager in question may begin to accept some of your suggestions and recommendations.
The one thing that you possess that they don’t possess is the knowledge and experience that come with having a daily presence in the employment marketplace; and that knowledge is worth a lot. In Part II of “Working With Difficult Hiring Managers – Key Strategies for Today’s Recruiter,” I’ll break down three other strategies that you can deploy that should make a big difference in their overall happiness, and yours! Part II of “Working With Difficult Hiring Managers, Key Strategies for Today’s Recruiter” will delve into key messages and information that you will want to integrate into your dialogue with those especially difficult and challenging hiring managers.
Until then, This is Paul Siker wishing you ongoing success.