The Case of the Frustrated Manager

I got a call not long ago from a manager in a large organization who was completely frustrated by his recruiting function. He was at the point of simply bypassing what he considered a completely dysfunctional part of his organization. These were his complaints as he outlined them to me, albeit with a little coaching.

  1. No one seemed to even know that he has opened a requisition. He felt that he had sent it into a void. He had apparently had no feedback and no acknowledgement of anyone having received it.
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  3. When he called a recruiter to check, they put him on hold to find out and never returned.
  4. When he called the recruiter’s boss, he was again put on hold. Then he was told that he would get a call back with the status. He actually did get that call – only 2 days later — with a message that the requisition would be posted soon.

    At this point more than a work week had passed with no action on finding a replacement for the person who had left, with no substantial confirmation that the requisition was being worked on, and with no candidates. He didn’t even know who has been assigned to work on his requisition, if anyone.

  5. Several days later, he got a phone call from a recruiter who wanted to sit down with him and schedule an interview to find out what kind of person he really wanted. I don’t know what he told the recruiter (and probably don’t want to know), but at this point, I got a call asking if I could recommend an agency to help him.

Does this sound at all familiar? IS there a remote possibility that your organization acts like this? Is so, you are in trouble. First of all, focus on customer service. This means a focus on both the manager and the candidate. Customer service means responsiveness. It means promptness. And it means quality interaction. There is no excuse for not immediately acknowledging receiving a requisition. If you don’t receive it immediately, find out why not and fix the problem. If the issue is a bureaucratic one, which I know it often is, find a way to get around the system by getting a copy the requisition or by having a manager send you the requisition directly. Think: how would you feel if you never received any confirmation you placed an order for an item. Managers feel the same way about their requisitions. Secondly, make sure that you practice great customer response and follow through. Whenever I speak with hiring managers, the issues focus around the response time that is almost always seen as lagging. Set a standard; communicate the standard and live up to it by tracking it and by seeking out customer feedback. Lack of speed in responding is correlated with lack of speed in finding candidates. Managers will feel that they could have gotten candidates faster by using some other sourcing person or tool. On the other hand, when managers fully understand the issues and know that someone is working on their requisition, they are less likely to be as demanding. Thirdly, move like lightening. In most organizations today speed is seen as the most important factor in recruiting followed by quality. Managers are desperate for good people and firms lose significant amounts of revenue and profit by being unable to accept business because they lack the staff to execute. Therefore, you must have a recruiting strategy that anticipates needs and has plans in place to source candidates no matter what happens in the marketplace or in your firm. And finally you must have a marketing plan in place to ensure that the good things you do are known and understood all over the firm. This is an issue wherever I go: recruiters don’t feel comfortable promoting what they do. They frequently feel that marketing themselves is egotistical and somehow wrong. Yet marketing skills and what will help propel you into success. Not only will your message force you to do whatever it says, the message tells managers that you are good. This is not a time for timid steps or shoddy service. The most successful agencies and firms do lots of things right. If they didn’t, they would not have market share and mind share today. Most hiring managers feel that agencies are better than internal groups. The rational is that those who have to serve paying customers to make a living do a better job. Smart internal recruiting functions need to start emulating the best agencies and figure out how they can uniquely add value that the agencies can’t. If your only reason for existence is the corporate mandate and your service is poor, you will lose your mandate. Remember the emperors of China? They believed they only ruled as long as they had the mandate of Heaven. For a corporate recruiter, the hiring manager is Heaven’s messenger and you’d better listen.

Kevin Wheeler is a globally known speaker, author, futurist, and consultant in talent management, human capital acquisition and learning & development. He has founded a number of organizations including the Future of Talent Institute, Global Learning Resources, Inc. and the Australasian Talent Conference, Ltd. He hosts Future of Talent Retreats in the U.S., Europe, and Australia. He writes frequently on LinkedIn, is a columnist for, keynotes, and speaks at conferences and events globally, and advises firms on talent strategy. He has authored two books and hundreds of articles and white papers. He has a new book on recruiting that will be out in late summer of 2016. Prior to his current work, he had a 20+year corporate career in several San Francisco area tech and financial service firms. He has also been on the faculty of San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco. He can be reached at


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