When we talk about “influencing hiring managers,” we’re talking about having the power to compel managers to take actions, demonstrate behaviors, and share opinions to drive activities that result in finding, screening, winning, and keeping top talent.
Effective influencing is about “pulling” the hiring manager to you for support and advice, rather than “pushing” the hiring manager, which only leads to resistance. Rather than inserting themselves into hiring managers’ days in obtrusive or unwelcome ways, recruiters can influence hiring managers effectively by following the five tips outlined below:
1. Demonstrate Recruitment Knowledge
It may go without saying, but a recruiter who doesn’t know – or doesn’t demonstrate credibility in – core areas of recruiting will always struggle to get a hiring manager’s time and attention. The following actions send strong signals that a recruiter knows what they are are doing in the talent marketplace and can provide credible guidance:
- Conducting an Intake or Planning Meeting: During this meeting, the recruiter should do more than get critical information from the hiring manager. The recruiter must also present and discuss information about the talent marketplace and trends relevant to the search. To do this, the recruiter might present on the availability of talent in the market, or share data-based recommendations for conducting a local or national search. The recruiter can also share insights into appropriate minimum and preferred qualifications for the job, sample candidate profiles to review, and data about salary ranges.
- Presenting a Plan to Source Passive Candidates: If talent for a particular role is scarce, then a recruiter must demonstrate the knowledge and ability to find passive candidates who have the skills, contact them in a compelling way, and screen them for interest in and fit with the company and the job.
- Screen Candidates Effectively: A credible recruiter can determine when candidates are interested, qualified for the role, and a suitable fit for the organization before sending them along to hiring managers.
2. Show Good Judgment
Hiring managers trust recruiters who have proven themselves capable of making sound decisions about talent in a timely manner. Top recruiters blend analysis, wisdom, experience, and judgment in order to uncover the best ways to attract and select the right candidates. They are sought by others for advice on and solutions for sourcing, recruiting, and hiring.
Top recruiters typically do things like:
- Build a track record of hiring success and talk about it in a data-based way
- Present and discuss options, along with pros and cons, for hiring managers to consider; e.g., “I can search for candidates with Ph.D.s and 10 years of experience who only want $30,000 – but here is what the market data tells us. Another option to consider might be …”
- Consider the outcomes of different decisions and work with the hiring manager to assess risks and rewards
- Effectively obtain insights about candidates, the business, and talent priorities through communication, collaboration, and relationship-building – and then use this information to provide advice and direction
3. Be Persistent
Persistent recruiters are typically the most successful and influential. Hiring managers have confidence in them and gravitate toward them. These recruiters creatively and efficiently get things done, despite setbacks or obstacles. They embrace challenges without getting discouraged or distracted. They display innovative thinking, and they are confident in resolving problems. Persistent recruiters are the type who:
- Loathe to send a search to an agency after working it unsuccessfully for a period of time
- Understand that finding top talent – particularly for roles that demand scarce skills – is rarely easy
– Present a plan, work it, adjust it when needed, and continue to think creatively, embracing new ideas as necessary
- Plan their work, prioritize their time, and consider alternative solutions when necessary
4. Leverage Resources
Top recruiters marshal the resources they need to get the job done in a proactive way. This approach builds credibility with hiring managers who observe the recruiter maximizing their productivity. These recruiters are skilled at communicating and negotiating to secure the information, time, or data needed to overcome their challenges and fulfill their commitments. These recruiters creatively consider ways to engage hiring managers and others in the research, screening, and selection of top talent. Recruiters who successfully leverage their resources will:
- Make use of information, materials, talent, or processes to help them reach desired results
- Seek out others who have solved similar problems to gain insights into what has worked in the past
- Enlist hiring managers to aid the search by reviewing their personal networks and reaching out to potential candidates
5. Demonstrate Responsiveness
Responsiveness is arguably the most important competency in building a reputation with hiring managers as an influential, credible recruiter. Responsiveness is essential to building trust and collaborative work relationships. Influential recruiters demonstrate a range of responsiveness, including all of the following:
- Rapidly responding to calls, emails, and questions
- Moving with visible urgency that demonstrates their preference for action and speed; e.g., they walk quickly in the halls, respond to problems to show they’re on the case, etc.
- Managing expectations and communicating effectively by providing timelines, which they consistently meet or exceed
- Following up, asking questions, requesting feedback, and making suggestions that add value
Note that only one of these competencies specifically relates to functional talent acquisition knowledge; the others are general behaviors relevant to anyone in any role. Each can be practiced and improved over time.
To learn more about how to improve in any of these areas in a self-directed way, I recommend reading Linda Brenner’s Driving Career Results.
Tom McGuire is cofounder and managing partner of Talent Growth Advisors.