The Season for Level Setting

Thanksgiving is gone. It’s time to welcome one of the most magical seasons of the year. Regardless of beliefs and interpretation of holidays this is when kids are believers with their excitement and hope for that one special gift that is both so innocent and amazing.

This past Sunday I sat down with my seven year old daughter, a believer and a huge fan of the man in the red suit, to write her Christmas wish list. The list was detailed, entertaining and filled with a few items that took this mom by surprise. It ranged from doll clothes and simple games to her own jet and a baby sister. Obviously the last two won’t be making an appearance under the tree this year so I did my best, without laughing, to explain why a private jet and newborn weren’t going to happen.


Well, this delicate dance is something that all of us have had to do at one point or another in our careers and our lives. As recruiters however, we do this all the time. My little girl’s wish list is much like our intake calls with hiring managers. They want it all and don’t blink twice when asking for the impossible. Unfortunately, this is not as magical as a child’s Christmas dreams, but it happens frequently with high expectations.


The answer is easier said than done, but when done well level setting can be a recruiter’s best friend. It is both part art and part science and mastering this craft is critical for a successful recruiter/hiring manager partnership and must be done from the starting line. If you wait too long frustration will be felt on both ends and the hiring process will become a game where neither party walk away fully fulfilled. By not speaking up and voicing your professional opinion during intake, you are essentially agreeing to provide the wish list. It is much more productive to begin a relationship with realistic expectations instead of promises that later must be reset.

Sadly, very few organizations incorporate conversations like these into their recruiter trainings. Why not? We (HR professionals) talk often about the ROI of recruiting and throw around metrics like time-to-hire yet one honest conversation outlining the reality of the talent landscape could save time, money, resources and trust. So, where does an organization begin?

1. Acknowledge that hiring managers need direction.
2. Supply caffeine.
3. Give your recruiters the tools needed to be an expert.
4. And possibly the most important of all, build confidence.


Back in my recruiting days I loved this part of the job. In fact, I found it to be one of the more rewarding aspects. Hiring managers would have a laundry list of skills, characteristics and expectations with a limited understanding of what talent existed in the geography and for the dollar amount being offered. It might have been a love hate relationship but by speaking up early and laying out the facts and the reality of the situation the hiring manager/recruiter relationship turned to a partnership rather than a you vs. me challenge.

So this season, and all seasons, recruiters need to remember that they, like Santa and his elves, can’t do it all. Recruiters can’t produce talent acquisition miracles but they can level-set the playing field.

Posted in

Bridget Webb

Bridget Webb is a Recruitment and Marketing enthusiast, leader, advisor and speaker. Her specialties include Demand Generation (customers & talent), People Analytics, Employer Branding, HR Technology and homeroom mom duties. With over a decade in the talent acquisition space both as a practitioner and marketing/business development executive Bridget has built a reputation as a trusted thought leader whose creative problem solving and relentless character have grown brands, bottom-lines and talent pipelines. Connect with Bridget.


Newest Jobs in HR & Recruiting

Atrium is hiring a HR Operations Coordinator (Boston, MA) [Click to View]

TERRA Staffing Group is hiring a Recruiting Coordinator | Great Seattle Location (Seattle, WA) [Click to View]

The Mom Project is hiring a Human Resources Specialist (100% Remote) ( Boston, MA) [Click to View]

Catapult Learning is hiring a Talent & HR Coordinator (Remote) (Atlanta, GA) [Click to View]

Ultimate Staffing is hiring a Talent Recruiter (jr27) (Minneapolis, MN) [Click to View]

Pin It on Pinterest