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Abandoning the Hiring Manager vs Recruiter Mindset

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​​In many companies, the hiring process takes the form of a two-way relationship between a recruiter and a hiring manager. As is the case in any other relationship, there is always a potential for tension to flare up.

Ultimately, hiring managers and recruiters share the same goal: to fill positions with well-qualified people. So if their goal is the same, where do the points of frustration arise?

The primary aim of any recruiter is to master the hiring process – it is the very core of the job. In contrast, hiring managers usually have a whole host of other responsibilities to take care of, relegating the hiring process itself to a secondary duty. Given this situation, it makes logical sense that the recruiter should retain most of the responsibility for how the process unfolds.  

But recruiters don’t have ALL the responsibility. Often times hiring managers will make complaints about recruiters that are unfair, as they assign 100% of the blame to the other party in the relationship. As this doesn’t reflect the reality of the situation, the root cause of the problem won’t be discussed and therefore can’t be fixed.

In this post, we’ll explore some common complaints that often create an adversarial (and less productive) working relationship between hiring managers and recruiters. 

The Recruiter Doesn’t Know What I’m Looking For

This is probably the most common complaint made by hiring managers about recruiters. In many cases, it’s an excuse for unclear and muddled communication. For a recruiter to find the right candidates, it is the responsibility of the hiring manager to spell out in clear terms exactly what they want. Granted, the recruiter should already have a good idea of what the hiring manager is looking for. However, they shouldn’t be left to guess about the specifics and finer details of the ‘ideal’ candidate. If the same hiring manager experiences this issue repeatedly, it is worth considering whether the problem lies with their communication skills, rather than the recruitment agency.

The Recruiter isn’t Delivering High-Quality Candidates

This complaint is often made without a clear conception of what a “high-quality” candidate actually looks like. Countless top minds from the business world have tried to answer this question, but the answer still remains elusive.

To a recruiter, quality might mean someone with a great CV. To a hiring manager, quality might mean someone who interviews well. Who’s to say what the “right” type of quality is? As “high quality” is such a subjective term this complaint doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The best a recruiter can do is find someone who meets the requirements specified by the hiring manager, which feeds back to the first point.  

The Recruiter isn’t Finding Candidates Fast Enough

This complaint is one of the most frustrating things a recruiter can hear. Even when everything goes according to plan, it typically takes about two months to fill a position. The process can go on much longer when the hiring manager wants to hold out for the perfect candidate.

There is often an understandable sense of urgency surrounding the hiring process as the new employee is coming in to fill a need that’s immediate. As a result, hiring managers want to find the right hire ASAP. But as noted above, this is not how the hiring process works, especially when the hiring manager wants a top-class candidate. Good recruiters will give an estimated timeline at the beginning of the hiring process. They will also provide a clear explanation if the process needs to be extended for any reason. But hiring managers need to be patient and understand that finding a strong, suitable candidate cannot be done at the drop of a hat.  

The Recruiter Didn’t Close the Candidate

A hiring manager interviews a candidate who likes them and offers them a job. The candidate rejects the offer. If the hiring manager blames the recruiter, they are essentially washing their hands of any personal responsibility for the hiring process. The fact of the matter is that a candidate’s interview with the hiring manager is the biggest influencing factor on whether they accept an offer. If a candidate doesn’t take a job, a bad interview experience is likely the reason why, not something the recruiter did.

But there is a whole range of other reasons why a candidate may turn down an offer. They may have received a better offer from another company, had something unexpected come up in their personal life, or they simply changed their mind at the last minute. There is very little a recruiter can do when one of these things happens. That isn’t to say a recruiter has no say in closing candidates, they definitely play a role – particularly in the lead up to the interview. But if a candidate interviews and doesn’t take a job, the blame lies squarely with the hiring manager, not the recruiter.

Building a Stronger Working Relationship

The goal of this article is to emphasise the point that hiring is a collaborative process: not to shield recruiters from any blame. But anytime something goes wrong during the hiring process, pointing a finger at a recruiter is the easy way out. This isn’t right.

Recruiters need to accept their responsibility for problems that arise, but they can’t fix everything on their own. They need hiring managers who are willing to listen to them and work together to find a solution. If not, hiring managers will notice that these issues persist indefinitely.