Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with a hiring manager at a new client location. He met me in the lobby and we went back to his office, stopping on the way to glance into the development room, where four developers were clustered, in the dark, typing away at code.
We continued on to his office and he pointed to the chair in front of his desk. I pointed to the chair beside his desk and said “May I sit there? I’d like to see your software in action.”
He agreed and I spent the next thirty minutes enjoying an in-depth walkthrough of a very robust software application, integrating data cubes and a reporting engine that parsed that data cube in any way you’d need to see. A fantastic product, solid and reliable, still growing and improving.
We talked about the dark room where the developers sat, and he told me about the culture of the company. Fifteen employees, thirty year history, several million in the bank but run like a startup. We discussed what was important to see in the incoming employee, and I took notes so that when I interviewed potential candidates for the role, I would not only capture the technological prerequisites, but the cultural ones too.
“Nobody that needs their hand held,” he said, looking me right in the eye. “We’re not big enough to train people, but we can answer the occasional question.”
“Got it,” I said. “Will the new hire report directly to you?”
“No,” he replied, and he later introduced me to the supervisor. As an excellent recruiter with a great track record, I need to meet the actual supervisor to maintain my win streak. Without exception, whenever I try to fill a position without having met the supervisor, the fit just isn’t that strong. It’s THAT important.
As we walked down the hall, the hiring manager said, nonchalantly, “You’re the fourth recruiter I’ve asked to help on this search, and the third one that has come to visit me personally.”
“I need to do it,” I replied. “Any recruiter that thinks he can get the measure of a company via a phone conversation or an email exchange is really only working with a small percentage of what he needs to know to do a good job.”
My hiring manager agreed wholeheartedly.
I wrapped up my interview and shook his hand, then left the building. My head was swimming with the particulars of the company I’d just left, and I had a pretty solid idea of what they needed to see.
I screened, interviewed and presented candidates to my hiring manager and my candidate made it all the way to the top two folks. This time, I didn’t make a placement. That’s okay, I have a hiring manager who will definitely turn to me again.
The five things that guarantee an excellent relationship with your recruiter are:
1. Ensure that the recruiter meets the new hire’s supervisor. I can’t stress enough how vital this is to a successful placement. Meeting the supervisor gives the recruiter enormous insight into the personality fit, the cultural fit, work expectations and insight into the way the supervisor thinks.
2. Rapid response to proffered resumes. There’s an old recruiter saying that is applicable to any sales process: “Time kills all deals.” In this economy, with agile companies seeking new ways to hire more efficiently, the single best revamp you can do in your organization is to actively refine your onboarding process to as narrow a time frame as possible. Whereas it used to be okay to follow a six-week hiring process, research has proven that this is no longer the case. Fast, agile companies with rapid fast-track onboarding processes get the very best available candidates much more consistently than stodgy companies with three week onboarding processes.
3. Make sure you know exactly what you want in the new hire. With very few exceptions, most job descriptions that I receive from my clients change mid-stream, especially after I’ve found a well-matched candidate. Once a hiring manager has seen what she asked for, the requirement shifts, sometimes subtly, but it shifts. The search must then be started over, and the initial efforts have been wasted. Recruiters work on commission only and cannot afford to start over time and time again. Bouncing ideas off the recruiter or, better yet, having the recruiter help you craft the job description ahead of time is money well invested.
4. Be a good employer. Recruiters now routinely check online reviews for the hiring habits of companies, using such websites as GlassDoor, Jobitorial and Career Bliss. If your organization has trouble with turnover, or there is a bad egg in one of the departments, incoming candidates will find out about it. Being a good employer, keeping your employees happy, motivated and loyal, is the single best thing you can do to keep your costs low. Constantly replacing employees as they walk out the door is extraordinarily expensive and creates a workplace of low morale.
5. Respect the recruiter’s process. Most external recruiters work as commission-only employees, only getting paid when they make a placement. Hiring managers at different companies are as varied as roses in springtime. Different approaches, different response rates, different transparency values. A recruiter will always provide her best efforts where she feels most appreciated, and, if you are looking to add somebody to your family and are hiring a recruiter to introduce you to that person, you should make sure that you understand the dynamics of the search.
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