Maybe Reporting to HR Isn’t All Bad

Every so often there’s a proposal on this site to move recruiting to … somewhere. Anywhere. Anywhere but HR.

Marketing, for instance.

Or, as some separate function. Some say it needs to be under the CEO.

But that’s not unanimous.

We asked in the State of Recruiting survey, “who should recruiting report to?”

And you said:

CEO or equivalent: 12 percent

COO/president or equivalent: 15 percent

Head of finance/CFO or equivalent: 1 percent

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Head of HR/CHRO/VPHR or equivalent: 63 percent

Head of marketing/CMO/VP marketing or equivalent: 1 percent

Other: 4 percent

Someone else in HR, but not the head: 3 percent

For those of you who put “other,” here are some of the things you wrote in:

  • Depends on company size and business model
  • Chief Recruiting Officer
  • Department head for a line of business like IT, finance, etc. (some variation of this was frequently written in)
  • Head of marketing and CEO and head of HR
  • Decentralized so it is embedded in the department it serves
  • Both VP of Production and HR
  • VP of Administration
  • Head of Integrated Talent Management
  • Head of HR but Marketing should be connected
  • Head of sales, not marketing
  • Someone who has managed recruiters before
  • Head of organizational development
  • Supply chain/global sourcing
  • Not important


8 Comments on “Maybe Reporting to HR Isn’t All Bad

  1. Recruiting should report to HR for the simple reason that HR serves all corporate entities and defines and interprets company policy as it manages against chaos. Recruiting, as a key competitive process must be managed to abide by a standard that is legal, ethical and defensible. Therefore, recruiting a law abiding process, needs to be a direct report to HR.

  2. Thanks, Todd and Tino. ISTM that WHO Recruiting reports to is less important than WHAT we get when we do report. If we get backing, resources, and the autonomy to effectively put quality butts in chaiirs on time and within budget, then we could could report to the “Man in the Moon” for all I care. Likewise, if we DON’T get these things, who we report to is unimportant.

    Happy Memorial Day,

  3. Hi Keith,

    I agree with you about getting the support to do our jobs as recruiters — but disagree with your flippant remark about caring less about whom you report to relative to recruiting to include even the “Man in the Moon”. That’s such a “whatever” statement it makes you sound a bit arrogant and even mercenary. And more to the point is your casual disregard for “chain of command” — a term and concept I particularly value having had it drilled into me from my experience in the military.

    Like you, I also support the philosophy of: the “ends justifies the means” in some cases, but not in this one. In the matter of viable HR leadership directing recruitment, for me, it’s imperative because I’ve seen and worked within organizations where HR was simply a co-signer for various departments and managers as opposed to being “HR” — the defender of fair employment practices, the law abider, etc. For me, good HR is where the “means justifies the end(s)”. Otherwise there is chaos, unhappy employees and job applicants and bullshit outcomes.

    And, BTW – not to nitpick, but from the mouths of seasoned veterans…including me — who have suffered personal loss of family members and friends to past wars — your “Happy Memorial Day” wish is so out of place with the somber reflection and paying respects and appreciation for our war dead.

    Exactly where is the “Happy” in that experience? Yeah, Walmart may be having a blowout sale and that may approach “happiness” of a sort, but I didn’t see anyone celebrating at area cemeteries today – did you? And I know you like relevant “sources” — I think I qualify…and I share the following…for you “Happy Memorial Day” wishers.

    Why You Should Never Wish Anyone a ‘Happy Memorial Day’ …

    With respect,


  4. “Otherwise there is chaos, unhappy employees and job applicants and bullshit outcomes.”

    That is the state of affairs at most companies. Keith’s remark might seem flippant, the point he’s making is that who you report to is a secondary priority, and a distraction from the real issue of dysfunctional processes dominating the industry no matter who each individual recruiter or recruiting department reports to.

    There’s no generally accepted practices for recruiting, no certification body with any real pull or meaning, there’s no real risk for most companies of getting sued, barring a slam dunk case a lawyer will take on spec, so it’s not an issue most companies care about. And my point, and I’d guess Keith’s, is that it makes little difference to ask where a person or department reports to when the primary issues affecting the function itself are much deeper, and will not be solved by answering that question.

  5. You know what they say about opinions???

    The bottom line here, as Todd has pointed out, is that it depends. It depends on the size and structure of the organization. I’m currently working on a VP of People role in the Valley. The person who will be hired needs to be very strong and have a clear understanding of talent acquisition first, and HR second. They will eventually (maybe in a year or more) build an internal team of recruiters, and use agencies in the meantime. Recruiting will report to this person until the organization gets big enough to hire a Director of Recruiting (who will likely report to the VP of People). This position I’m filling will initially report to the CFO and likely to the CEO (someone very well known and with past successes).

  6. To my mind Carol comes closest to the mark. It is imperative that whomever has the responsibility for initial hiring should have a required ROI as a department. Having full knowledge as to the specific requirements of all departments on the skill sets cognitive abilities and interests of any applicant for a given position.

    There should also be continuous dialogue between the parties (feedback)as to how an individual is working out, or not post hire.

  7. Todd,
    I find it interesting that an “Employee Success” organization was not among the survey responses. Over the past few months I’ve been informally polling people on this very question, and to me the best responses have come from organizations that have organized some marketing functions (espeically marcom) and some operations functions (parts of analytics) under a new HR function that is focused on branding, marketing, and selling to potential and current employees.

    It seems to me that Employee Success can be more than a buzz phrase.

  8. I think the deeper issue is: what’s being sold? The majority of people and jobs aren’t highly desirable EOC positions of choice. They’re average jobs at average companies with average pay, average opportunity, average management, and average benefits. Companies of various structures and with variable reporting relationships have succeeded and failed, so it seems an irrelevant issue to me with deeper issues being the make-or-break of whether or not the department will function well. I think it comes down to how much a company actually values its employees as exemplified in its actions, not its branding. For most, employees are highly to moderately disposable commodities, and whether or not it exists, they behave as if there’s a never ending line of replacements willing to come in and take over for any particular job at any given time.

    Whether or not employees are actually valued is a deeper issue that needs to be addressed, and it’s entirely possible that the answer is, “no,” or “sort of,” in which case who the recruiter(s) report to isn’t really a big deal.

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