Educating Hiring Managers on How They Can Help Find and Hire Desirable Talent
Posted by: The Novo Group on October 1, 2012
Novo recently asked a group of HR executives what topics were on their mind when it came to recruiting. Hot topics across the group included:
- How to educate hiring managers on their role in helping to find and hire top talent
- Centralize or not to centralize recruiting
- Ways to proactively source
- Why some searches take so long
- Closing a candidate every time
To help provide some valuable insight to the above topics, Novo is going to provide tips and musings on The Novo blog every month. We decided to kick it off with the most popular topic – How to educate hiring managers on their role in helping to find and hire top talent. It all starts with the planning process!
What it Takes to Target Top Talent
Engaging and Educating the Hiring Manager
If you want to successfully find and hire qualified candidates, then it is imperative to get your hiring manager involved in the initial planning process. If you don’t, you might be setting yourself up for a wild goose chase to find the right talent. Novo talks with hundreds of HR executives who often say:
“We don’t have a defined process – our approach is ad-hoc and too often feels like trial and error. I hate to think what it’s costing us…”
Does this sound familiar? Lack of direction and focus can be debilitating to the recruitment process. In order for the planning stage to be effective, you need to engage and educate the hiring manager. Following are tips on how to effectively communicate and work with your hiring manager to find the most qualified candidates.
1. Set a “Scoping” meeting with the hiring manager
Schedule enough time with the hiring manager to review position requirements and determine selection committee size, participant roles and responsibilities.
It is best to do this in person, if possible, in order to get a true take on the hiring manager’s personality, business goals, and how they plan to reach their goals. Every hiring manager is different. Getting a good feel for the hiring manager’s personality and goals will help you better understand what information about the business model, goals and hiring manager will help with attracting top candidates. This is a great time to educate the hiring manager on how his/her role is important in bringing in the right talent.
2. Be prepared
To get the most out of your meeting with the hiring manager, make sure you are organized and have some research done on the position before you meet. One way to get a better idea about the position requirements/description is to search www.Indeed.com, a free aggregator of job postings that can provide comparable job descriptions. This can provide good material that will help you educate the hiring manager on how other companies are positioning similar job descriptions. Also, doing a proactive search for potential candidates in job board databases, will tell you how available active talent is in the open market.
Novo recently provided research for a client that showed how there was a shortage of technology talent. The HR executive was able to share this information with the hiring manager to help educate and set expectations. Click here to see the document and get a better understanding of the type of research available to help educate your hiring manager.
Once you have gathered your research, develop a list of questions to review with the hiring manager. To help shape role requirements, compile key questions that help you understand the business model, goals, business unit culture, what a successful hire would look like, and search and interview processes into a scoping document like this one
As a recruiter or HR professional you can’t attract quality candidates without an understanding of the business model and initiatives. Start by asking questions that focus around gaining insight into:
- go to market strategy, competition, monetizing techniques, and top strategic initiatives
- skills already in place on the team
- goals for the new employee
- “must haves” on the hard skills and soft skills
Working with the hiring manager to define soft skills is important. It’s often said that hard skills will get you an interview but you need soft skills to get (and keep) the job. Since soft skills are personal attributes, you will need to get the hiring manager to talk about them and why they are so important to the position. One way to do this is by understating if it is a replacement hire. If it is a replacement hire, find out what the hiring manager liked or didn’t like about the previous employee’s behaviors or other candidates.
Finally, find out why this is a great job opportunity. Answers to these questions provide you with information you will need when trying to engage with passive candidates:
- Why would a passive candidate who likes their job want to learn more about this opportunity?
- Why is this hiring manager a great person to work for? What is his/her background experience?
- What is the direction of the department initiatives?
- What is the potential for career advancement?
- What is the career path?
By asking the hiring manager well thought out questions, you will gain a clear picture of the business issues and goals, as well as help shape the position requirements and competencies.
3. It’s about them not you
The information from your scoping session with the hiring manager should give you enough details to write an intriguing position description. Most position descriptions are written to attract only those looking for a job or a lateral transfer. To increase your pool of qualified candidates you will likely need to convince someone who is already employed to consider a move. Think of this as the follow up “sales” document you would send to passive candidates after you conduct a cold call to generate interest.
One way to do this successfully is to focus on the future rather than the past. Do not start off listing the skills required. When it comes to top candidates, they are more intrigued by learning what they are going to do and what they have the opportunity to become.
This may be an unfamiliar approach to the hiring manager. In order to get buy in, educate your hiring manager on external factors. For example, top talent can come from anywhere. However, most top talent are passive candidates (i.e. already employed, most likely at a competing organization). Novo has talked with many companies who have best-in-class recruiting strategies and the majority say that approximately 50% of hires are passive candidates.
The Corporate Executive Board’s (CEB) active-passive index tracks job search activity among employed workers going back to 2006. The CEB states, “The index reveals a steady rise in the prevalence of passive candidates — the percentage of the labor market not actively searching for a new employer. Globally, the passive candidate pool is bigger than it has been in the past five years, with nearly 50 percent in the passive category compared to only 22 percent in 2006 (Figure 1).”
4. Develop a Litmus Test
Along with the position description, you can also take the information you gathered from the scoping session to develop a “litmus test” for your hiring manager. By developing a litmus test you can confirm what you heard/learned at the scoping session. Additionally, this document can hold the hiring manager accountable for what they agreed upon to avoid a trial and error approach.
The key to a good litmus test is to make sure you have very specific and measureable requirements. For example, saying you need 5 years of sales experience is very broad compared to 5 years of b2b services sales experience. Think about which one is more specific and measurable, and which description is most likely to help you select the right candidate.
Also clearly defining “must have” skills and segmenting out “nice to haves” will help broaden your target candidate base and help your hiring manager focus on talent vs resumes. Often the hiring manager will have a long wish list. You need to coach your hiring manager on limiting their must haves to around 5 hard skills if possible.
5. Ensure the alignment of decision makers
It is important to make sure that everyone who will be part of the interview or selection committee agrees upon the key criteria you have developed in your litmus test. Not ensuring alignment across all of the decision makers is typically why searches go on longer than they should. Without alignment, every time you present a candidate you will end up tweaking the requirements because there has been no agreement upfront.
Since alignment on a search is critical, try to coach the hiring manager to choose no more than 3-5 people on the selection committee, depending on the level of the position.
6. Set expectations
Taking a few minutes to educate the hiring manager and setting expectations could mean the difference between a satisfied hiring manager vs. one that is thrilled! This is especially important if the hiring manager is used to working with contingent search firms that are known to quickly throw resumes of unqualified candidates at them.
Start by walking the hiring manager through the process and helping them understand timelines based on your workload. Tell them why communication and their involvement is important, how you will execute, and how they will benefit.
If the search requires sourcing of passive candidates and/or you have a heavy requisition load, you will want to set expectations carefully on when the hiring manager might see candidates. If you are searching for passive candidates it can take up to 4-6 weeks to present a qualified candidate to the hiring manager. Passive candidates do not always call you back right away and in order to properly screen the candidates you will need to contact them on their schedule, not yours. Once your hiring managers start to see star quality candidates they will understand it was worth the wait.
For the extreme type “A” hiring manager, it is a good idea to schedule a weekly update meeting to give him/her an update and share data and metrics from your ATS (applicant tracking system) reports on the progress of the search. Be transparent about the information and candidates you are speaking with to help them understand the quality process you are working through and how to yield the best candidates.
The planning phase of the search is critical. It is the foundation of a good, quality search and should not be skipped by having the hiring manager simply “enter their requisition in the system.” The only way to hit the mark with great candidates is to know what your target is and to spend time up front with your hiring manager. It sounds simple, but so many hiring managers and recruiters feel they don’t have time to do the scoping and planning phase and just work off a requisition. When you do not do the scoping and planning phase upfront, searches end up taking longer than needed because of the wasted back and forth approach.
When you manage the planning stage well, you will have a better understanding of the hiring manager’s business and position requirements and educate the hiring manager on the process it will take to bring in quality candidates. This provides you with a better chance at serving up candidates who meet the hiring manager’s needs leading to a successful hire and a happy hiring manager every time.