You have probably read that Amazon is looking to hire 100,000 people this year, or that tech companies in Silicon Valley are having a war for women talent in the engineering fields. With these increased demands on recruiting teams, it can be easy for recruiters to fall into a reactive “order-taker” trap rather than assuming a strategic talent advisor role.
Traditionally, a hiring manager recognize a need, finance approves the budget for the number of potential new employees, and the Talent Acquisition team then receives an “order.” The recruiter may or may not meet with the hiring manager other than to develop the job description and review candidates, but this lack of contact with the hiring manager creates a gap for the recruiter. By not fostering a strategic and proactive relationship with the hiring manager, the recruiter misses the opportunity to ultimately engage in more successful sourcing, assessment, and hiring of candidates in the future.
To move from “order taker” to talent advisor, I have four recommendations for recruiters:
1. Learn the business inside and out
I used to get frustrated when I saw a recruiter job posting that required a particular set of industry experience to be considered for the role. Over time, I discovered first-hand the difficulty of learning an otherwise unfamiliar business. When I moved from manufacturing/engineering and construction to financial technology, I had to overcome quite a steep learning curve! It took me almost a year until I fully wrapped my arms around the nuances of the industry, and I might even say that I still am learning about the business.
As a recruiter, to understand the types of candidates, where to find the candidates, and how to assess the candidates, it is important to understand the business inside and out. With your knowledge of the industry, you are much better prepared to screen candidates and present qualified ones to the hiring manager. You will also be able to advise the manager on candidate strengths and weaknesses as they pertain to the role as well as evolutions and changes in the labor market as a whole.
2. Understand the labor market and bring the data
Human Resources departments often receive criticism for not providing data to support their decisions. As recruiters, you have access to mountains of information – whether in the form of broader labor market heatmaps, specific data on what universities your employees have attended, or basic demographic data in your applicant tracking system. By compiling this information and sharing it with the hiring managers, you will be able to influence decision making and/or help set expectations. Everyone assumes that competing for software developers in Silicon Valley presents a challenge, but do your hiring managers know that the Boulder, CO and the Austin, TX markets can be just as difficult? Unless you show them the data, most technical managers probably would not know these facts.
3. Know the technologies for finding and assessing candidates
Budgets are tight, and extra money for an additional sourcing partner rarely exists, so you need to know how to leverage the available technology to find and assess candidates. For example, one great tool that we have used to assess coders is Hackerrank. Not only can it help as a sourcing tool, but you can also set up coding challenges for software developers to complete. Many developers love to do the challenges even if they are not active in the market.
Linkedin recently changed its user interface, so understanding these changes will also help you with your recruiting and sourcing down the road. Additionally, this article on Beyond.com reported that 77% of all job seekers use mobile apps. Is your applicant tracking system or career site setup to handle this? If not, work with your technology team to get this done immediately. Again, by understanding the labor market and the technologies you can be more effective for your hiring managers.
4. Schedule meetings with the hiring managers even when you don’t have open requisitions
Hiring managers are people too, and it can be immensely helpful to develop a relationship with them. Ask to attend some of their team meetings to learn developments in their business. Use these opportunities to identify potential developments on the horizon that could impact the need for hiring or require a different skillset from future applicants. This is especially important in the technology sector where things constantly change. By having a personal relationship with your hiring managers, you will be able to better anticipate their future needs.
Obviously, as a recruiter, your ability to become a talent advisor relies on the willingness of your hiring manager to accept your input. Rob McIntosh, the Principal Advisor for Intelligent Talent Solutions, described the need for hiring managers to take ownership in the hiring process in a recent article.
“Exceptional hiring managers make hiring a top priority by partnering in the attraction and assessment of talent by defining key job success criteria while committing themselves and their teams to an exemplary candidate experience.”
In today’s market, recruiters need to find more qualified and diverse candidates with fewer resources and in a shorter time frame. Continuing the order-taker methodology may seem to be the more comfortable path forward, however it will not help you to assume a more strategic role within the Talent Acquisition team.