The Secret to Better Hires? Great Hiring Managers!
As a recruiter, I like to think my role is the key to making great hires. But the truth is that recruiting is a team sport, and the best results require the support of a great hiring manager.
In my experience, the best hiring managers help attract candidates, reduce time-to-hire, and deliver impressive retention rates. In this piece, I'll share some of the characteristics and techniques of successful hiring managers I've worked with over the years. Hopefully, this will help you see improved results in your recruitment strategy.
What is a hiring manager?
A hiring manager is the person responsible for the hiring process from beginning to end. Often, they will be recruiting direct reports for themselves, but some teams or companies designate one person to lead hiring for the broader team.
Hiring managers have the technical expertise to assess whether the candidates presented have the required skills to do the work, but they also understand the soft skills needed to be effective in the role. The role of the hiring manager starts in the early stages of recruitment, with writing job descriptions and helping to promote vacancies. They oversee candidate screening and the interview process, and usually conduct interviews themselves. Finally, they'll play a role in making a job offer and guiding new hires through the onboarding process—the most important step in any hiring process.
Hiring managers can decide how proactive they want to be in the recruitment process. However, in my experience, the best results come when the hiring manager gets involved in the hunt for talent.
4 tips for being an effective hiring manager
Being a hiring manager isn't easy. You have to respond to an unpredictable market while also keeping your internal stakeholders happy. Here's how the best hiring managers approach the job:
Play an active role in talent sourcing
Talent sourcing is best if you have access to a broad pool of talent. Recruiters are experts at finding talent, but hiring managers can take steps to connect with even more candidates. You can help by:
Sharing open positions with your network Speak to people working in your professional arena and let them know you're hiring. Think about industry and alumni groups and listservs you are part of as resources to share the job, in addition to your professional social media like LinkedIn.
Promote jobs internally: Don't forget to let people internally know you are hiring. Send the position to your team and ask them to share it with their networks.
Ask your peers for referrals: Reach out to other managers and leaders to let them know about the vacancies. They may have internal or external recommendations that might be suitable.
Make direct contact: Don't be afraid to reach out to people who might be a good fit. People usually appreciate being thought of, especially when the outreach is coming from the manager directly. Even if they aren't interested, they may also have referrals.
One extra tip: don't forget to coordinate with your recruiters. This helps you avoid contacting the same candidate twice.
Move as quickly as possible
Recruiting is time-sensitive, as the best candidates will get snapped up quickly. It helps to have a hiring manager who will prioritize recruitment, especially when dealing with a hard-to-fill position. Some ways to speed up the process include:
Block out time for recruitment strategy: Put a hold on your calendar at the start of the process to give feedback on candidates, hold interviews, liaise with human resources, and confer with your hiring team on hiring decisions.
Flag up delays: Sometimes, hiring delays are unavoidable. Key decision-makers are traveling; urgent business comes up; or other circumstances might slow you down. Keep your recruiter in the loop so they can set expectations with the candidates and adapt to your situation.
Pause when you need to: If you're not ready to hire immediately, pause the recruitment process and let the candidates know it will be a few months before you are ready to move forward. This helps maintain the relationship, even if they are no longer available when you're ready to hire. A response of "not now" or "I don't know" is always better than silence.
Communication is the best way to improve the overall candidate experience. Hiring managers are perfectly positioned to stay in touch with everyone, including the recruiters, the candidates, and internal stakeholders.
Know your employer value proposition
All companies and jobs have pros and cons. Hiring managers that understand their company's selling points will find it easier to talk to candidates. Also, you'll find it easier to identify people who are likely to be a good fit.
To succeed in this task, you'll need to:
Understand your employer value proposition (EVP): Your EVP is the sum of your selling points. This includes Total Rewards, including benefits, as well as company culture, DE&I, and progression opportunities. It’s also good to understand your employer brand, which is how potential candidates see your company.
Build recruitment strategy around your EVP: Candidates will respond to your EVP in different ways, depending on their own values and ambitions. It helps to understand what people are looking for in an EVP so that you can tailor your strategy accordingly. For example, creative people might feel drawn to an employer that offers flexibility and values innovation.
Help candidates understand the EVP: According to Harvard Business Review, communicating your EVP increases the chances of finding a candidate with whom your values align. That's why it's important to talk to candidates about what is on offer—and what is not—so that they can make an informed choice about whether they will fit on your team.
Remember, an EVP is about more than just salaries and benefits. Candidates aren't just looking for compensation. They also want to find an environment that allows them to thrive.
Be open-minded about candidates
Sometimes a candidate might not have a 100% perfect resume, but you feel like they might thrive if given a chance. You then face the difficult decision: do you compromise on candidate requirements, or do you hold out to qualified candidates that tick every box?
It's a tough choice, especially if you're under pressure to get the vacancy filled. Here are a few tips for making an informed decision:
Know the must-have attributes: Some requirements are non-negotiable. For example, a candidate might require a specific professional qualification in order to do the job. But other requirements are nice-to-haves, which means that you could compromise if the right candidate comes along. It's important to know exactly where you can afford to be flexible about employee qualities.
Look at transferrable skills: Today's candidates are more likely than ever to jump between roles—or even industries! Sometimes, these candidates have transferrable skill sets that will allow them to thrive in a new position. Such people can also help by offering a fresh perspective on your current processes.
Seek out enthusiastic candidates: Why do job seekers apply for positions when they don't have the right qualifications? Sometimes, it's because they're excited at the thought of a new challenge or a chance to prove themselves. This kind of enthusiasm can be a real asset for any employee, so it may be worth giving such candidates a chance.
A hiring manager who understands and considers the core skills and experience required to do the job will have a broader, deeper pool of candidates to choose from. Don't get stuck thinking that people currently working for a few companies or with certain job titles are the only candidates to consider. Get creative!
Get expert talent acquisition support
As I said at the beginning: talent acquisition is a team game. You need great hiring managers, expert recruiters, support from the HR team, and buy-in from stakeholders.
Not everyone has that kind of in-house expertise, but Helios HR can help. Our Recruitment Process Outsourcing service helps to deliver fast, efficient hiring outcomes—with better retention and employee engagement.