Recruiting is Every Hiring Manager’s First Job

Managers of people are assumed to have the domain knowledge and skills sufficient to guide others in a given discipline to replicate their impact on the organization. Management is essentially a talent multiplying function and process.

To do this successfully, managers must know talent when they see it. But, merely recognizing talent isn’t enough. The best managers are also able to engage, attract and acquire that talent. They’re able to recruit people to join them.

Hiring managers who don’t see their own ability to recruit as a priority might be good managers of their own projects, but they’ll never be the best they can be at managing other people.

Management requires leadership, which requires engagement

Leaders must genuinely know and understand those they lead. To inspire people, to stretch the boundaries of their experience and meet corporate objectives, managers must know the professional aspirations of their team members, as well as what they can and cannot do. And, it’s critical to know as much as possible about these things before team members are hired.

When confronted with this reality, managers will think of employee engagement activities and their weekly one-on-one meetings, but they won’t often think about sourcing, recruiting, or meaningful conversations with professional references.  Unfortunately, most hiring managers consider those activities someone else’s job.

Of course hiring managers should rely on professional recruiters to help with those functions and activities. But, they must lead those recruiters just like they lead other professionals on their team. And, they can’t lead them if they don’t understand what they do or the value their function brings to the team.

Recruiting as a primary skill

If you manage a team, describing that team’s objectives to others should be second nature. Yet, too many hiring managers believe sharing that description with a candidate is not their primary job. And, too many hiring managers believe the interpersonal skills required to determine cultural fit with a team are only essential to the job of a professional recruiter or some other human resource practitioner.

Many managers also think their time is too important to review resumes or talk on the phone with strangers. But, under pressure, these are often the same managers who throw up their hands to their supervisors, blaming blown project deadlines on the “failure” of recruiters or HR.

Obviously, hiring managers should “outsource” the function of building a candidate pipeline to their recruiter. But, to be a genuinely successful business leader, hiring managers must retain the strategic role of “lead recruiter” for their team, department or division, and be able to sell the benefits of working on their team better than anyone else.

Remediation and scale

The word remediation has a negative connotation for most people. It’s associated with the act of cleaning up damage or teaching what should have already been taught. But, when determining a proper fit for a candidate within a team, remediation is actually an ongoing, normal necessity. Remediation in this context is simply a reconciliation of what is available and what is required.

As new team members are on-boarded, there will always be gaps between what they know and what an organization requires. And, there are plenty of times when new team members bring new skills to the team to fill the remediation gap.

But, no one should understand that remediation gap better than the hiring manager leading the team. And, to leverage and multiply that understanding, hiring managers must describe that gap to recruiters who assist them. But, the hiring manager’s understanding should always be deeper and they should always be able and willing to lead the recruiting process.

This benchmark of recruiting leadership also scales up. If only a handful of people report to a manager, that manager should obviously have intimate knowledge and understanding of each team member’s goals and aspirations.

But, even if a manager runs a department of a hundred people, she can maintain the same culture with her direct reports and teach them how to lead the recruiting function as the priority it must always be.

The bottom line is if you’re a hiring manager, recruiting isn’t someone else’s job or something you get around to doing when you can’t get out of it. Recruiting is your most important job.

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Scott Kinnaird

Scott Kinnaird is Director of Sales for Mercury Network. He has been a technical recruiter, staffing company founder, and recruiting division president for a publicly traded IT consulting firm. He loves to write and talk about applying uncommon corporate empathy to key segments of the talent lifecycle to increase employee engagement and corporate profits. Connect with Scott.


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