7 Tactics for Handling Managers Who Are Too Busy to Recruit

Deep in the heart of darkness in the world of cutthroat recruiting, we all know that we can source the best candidates in the world, but they must meet a hiring manager to be hired. Today most managers are doing at least one job — traveling, managing, training, and selling in the consulting, semiconductor, and telecom world. Here are a few of the reasons that I hear that they cannot interview or talk to candidates:

  • “I can’t commit to a specific day every week to talk or interview. Clients come first.”
  • “I travel all of the time and I don’t have time to talk to people unless it’s a final interview.”
  • “I have standing meetings with my staff once a week and we can go over the people you want me to meet on that call.”
  • “I don’t know what my schedule is until the Monday before since it is always up in the air.”
  • “You just find me the people and I’ll worry about my schedule and when it is convenient for me to talk with them.”

All of the managers that I have a working relationship with have used these lines on me before we got into a groove. They don’t have some mysterious pocket of time that the other don’t. What they do have are some solutions (and success stories) to back up making recruiting priority number one. Here are some solutions to getting the time that you need to review resumes, facilitate interview days, or make introductions. This can be done with your soon-to-be best friend, their administrative assistant, or directly with them. What you both will need is a calendar and to exchange all contact information.

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  1. Industry events. Find out what industry events they will be attending over the next quarter either as a keynote speaker or as an attendee or host of a hospitality suite.
  2. Locations of prospective clients. Find out who in their pipeline of prospects is located where. Find out if they have a planned trips or whether they can piggyback an introduction on an impromptu visit.
  3. Locations of existing clients. Find out where their existing clients are and when they are planning their next trip.
  4. Location of their favorite hub. I work with a lot of managers who try to use the same airline because they want the miles or they use the hospitality club (Admirals Club) as an office. I know in most major airports if there is a meeting facility onsite or a major hotel with a lobby near the terminal. I keep track of this so that when I have a candidate in Atlanta and my Manager is on a layover, we can connect the dots.
  5. Conference-call numbers. One of the things that I recommend is asking the manager to keep a time slot available from 5 to 6 p.m. on Thursdays on their conference-call line. When I screen a top candidate, I will ask them, “Are you around 5 to 6 p.m. Central time on Thursday?” If they are, I give them the conference-call number and password, and start a slate of people to have the manager talk to. Typically, Thursday morning I will send a manager an email with the agenda, the notes, and if I have it, bio or resume. The call is brief but the goal is to start the dialog and candidate experience off quickly and well.
  6. Staying off team calls. One of my previous employers used to require me to sit on these interminably long team calls. Two hours later, they wanted to discuss our pipeline. By the time we got to recruiting, I had been on mute for two hours, the managers were fantasizing about lunch, and my poor candidates were reduced to three-second sound bites. Schedule a time for you and the manager or his administrative assistant to go over the pipeline every week over the phone for five to ten minutes. The pipeline should be the only item on the agenda. Friday evenings are great.
  7. Identifying a favorite lunch spot. I always ask my managers if they eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, or go for drinks. This seems like a personal question, but there is a method to my madness. Some people like to meet at 7 a.m. and some people prefer 7 p.m. Once I get a handle on their preference, I’ll ask, “Do you mind some company once in a while?” If a candidate is local, I will set up a meet-and-greet this way. One of my managers always goes to get a coffee at 2 p.m. He was traveling between India and Dallas and was in the office once a month for three days. I would schedule one candidate a month to meet him at Starbucks for a brief meeting ó at 2 p.m.

Once you have assembled this information, you have a roadmap to when and where your candidates can be reviewed, introduced, and interviewed. As I screen candidates, I also get the snapshot of their travel plans and availability. This way, I can lighten the load on my managers’ administrative assistants as well as my coordinators so that their jobs are a little bit easier. If a manager resents this level of micromanagement, the best way to qualify it is to point out, “You know we would hit our numbers today if I had the authority to make hires. If we can’t come to a working service-level agreement on candidate feedback, candidate screening ,and interviewing, I can’t guarantee that you will make your numbers. This is really a way for you to be successful.” Another way to introduce this idea is to say, “Let’s just try this for a quarter and see if there is an improvement in the numbers. If the candidate quality or time burden becomes too much, we can talk about it again.” We could spend another 1,000 words on how much money a single hire can boost revenues or cost the firm. Help your manager help you.

Allison Boyce is a senior recruiter/global field services at Cloudera. She is a former  international sourcer/recruiter at Guidewire Software.

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1 Comment on “7 Tactics for Handling Managers Who Are Too Busy to Recruit

  1. Good article, with some very simple and straight-forward suggestions and reminders. Sometimes, the thing we probably need to remind ourselves of the most is that the hiring manager is the part of the equation that we need to manage the most.

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