The Hiring Manager’s Guide to Working With Recruiters

(Editor’s note: With so many new ERE members coming on all the time, we thought that each week we’d republish one popular classic post. Here’s one, below.)

Recruiting is a team effort. It’s most effective when the parties that make up the team move quickly and effectively through the process to get the job done. This is, of course, easier said than done, but let’s takes a quick moment to identify the three primary members of this illustrious team:

  1. The candidate
  2. The recruiter
  3. The hiring manager

If any of the above-mentioned parties fail to perform as expected, the process tends to suffer — and can break down completely under certain circumstances. This can lead to all types of problems and frustrations that relate to the successful acquisition of a new employee.

On top of that, you risk wasting time and money — as well as creating bad blood with respect to the candidate — if the hiring process is mishandled. Fortunately, most recruiters I come in contact with understand the necessity of driving the process forward and making things happen as quickly and as smoothly as possible. On the other hand, most candidates are simply looking to explore a given opportunity. But because candidates exist outside of the company, they do not fall under the expectations of organizational processes or expectations. Oh boy. This leaves us with the hiring managers, who can be a real problem if you are looking to be a more successful recruiter. If you the recruiter want to be more effective, you will need the full and ongoing cooperation of your hiring managers. Those individuals, in conjunction with the interviewing team they appoint, will be the people who will most influence your ability to be successful in building great organizations.

With this in mind, I have developed a one-pager you can email to your hiring managers to explain how to get more out of their recruiting partners and, as a result, hire better employees into their team.

This document can also be used as a guideline for conversation, a tool for training, or a document you can simply ask managers to read and discuss at some future date. Take my advice and you will have hiring managers who have a better understanding of what is expected of them and in turn, will be more willing to help you to help themselves.

Article Continues Below

Hiring Managers: Here’s How to Get the Most Out of Your Recruiting Partners

According to Ken Blanchard, co-author of The One Minute Manager, “None of us is as smart as all of us.” I see this as the essence of teamwork, and that is just what recruiting has become — an exercise in teamwork, with people working together to hire the best employees and build the best companies. With this in mind, and in order to be assured that we are operating in a smooth and effective manner, I ask the following:

  • Let me know when you have a position open as soon as it has been approved. The sooner you let me know that a position has been approved, the sooner I can meet with you, the sooner I can clearly understand what you are looking for in the candidates you want to hire, and the sooner I can begin my work in sourcing these candidates. Good candidates are not easy to find, so the more running room I have to develop an intelligent sourcing plan, the better off we’ll be.
  • If I call or email you, please respond. I understand you are busy. So am I. What I’m probably most busy with is trying to do all that is required to fill your position. I know that running your organization is a top priority, but hiring is a major part of running a business, and I need you to be responsive to me when I reach out. That’s how a good and productive team works.
  • Please respond to resumes quickly. Most candidates have a very short shelf life and little patience for organizations that do not respond quickly. Talent is tight and good people can go to a number of other employers in a flash. If I get a resume in front of you, please respond as quickly as possible so I can move the process on to the next step. I am not just concerned about whether your answer is “yes” or “no.” What makes my life very difficult is no response at all, and being stuck between a hiring manager who is not reactive and a candidate who is calling me looking for an answer to a simple question: “Does the manager want to see me or not?” Please do not put me in that position, because it makes all of us look foolish.
  • Please see that your interviewing team is ready. The candidate interviewing experience is critical to the ongoing success of the organization. Remember that prospective employees of today can become the customers or partners of tomorrow. They can refer others to your jobs. Be sure your interviewing team is ready to do a world-class job in all candidate-facing activities. This means they should have reviewed and understood the position for which they are interviewing and read the candidate’s resume before the candidate arrives. The team should be prepared to discuss the candidate with you after the interview is completed.
  • Inform me as to what you see as the next step in the process. Please get back to me with your thoughts, ideas, or questions right after the interview has taken place. Be advised that I can, in most cases, keep the candidate warm for a reasonable time, but I can’t say or do anything without hearing from you. Once again, make us all look good by being responsive and moving quickly as this is in everyone’s best interests.
  • Be sure to only ask questions that relate to the position. We live in a highly litigious society, and as your partner in the hiring process, it is my job to see that we never have a legal problem as a result of inappropriate questions being asked. Please remember that all questions asked should pertain only to the candidate’s experience as it relates to their ability to perform the duties of the position for which they are interviewing.
  • Remember to sell the company. Whether or not the candidate joins our organization is far more in your hands than in mine. But if you want to have the candidate join our company, you will have to sell it to the candidate. If the candidate is interviewing elsewhere, that is exactly what the competition will be doing. Be sure to let the candidate know why they should be seeing us as their next place of employment, and what some of the advantages are at our company. Remember, we always want the choice about whether to move forward or not to be our choice, not the candidate’s.
  • Please help me to close the candidate if I make that request. Landing a candidate is not always an easy thing to accomplish. As the marketplace tightens and top talent becomes harder to find, candidates will very often have multiple offers. I will do whatever I can to pre-close the candidate, get them prepped for an offer, and everything else necessary to make things happen. However, at times I will need a bit of help to make things happen and close the deal. If I call you to set up a meeting or phone call to lay out a capture strategy (see my article entitled How to Develop a Capture Strategy), please work with me on this. Together, as a team, we have a far better chance of successfully landing the candidate.
  • Leave the offers to me. Extending offers is a big part of my job, and I know exactly how to do it. Extending an offer is asking for the sale, and it has to be done at the right time, in the right way, and under the right circumstances. Please let me handle it as I see fit. (By the way, if you are the one who determines compensation, let’s talk, because low-balling the candidate is a catastrophe of major proportions!).

If I as the recruiter can get you as the hiring manager to work with me and follow these simple guidelines, we will both be successful, both help to build this company, and both demonstrate the ongoing value that teamwork brings to those who choose to use it.

Howard Adamsky has been recruiting since 1985 and is still alive to talk about it. A consultant, writer, public speaker, and educator, he works with organizations to support their efforts to build great companies and coaches others on how to do the same. He has over 20 years' experience in identifying, developing, and implementing effective solutions for organizations struggling to recruit and retain top talent. An internationally published author, he is a regular contributor to ERE Media, a member of the Human Capital Institute's Small and Mid-Sized business panel, a Certified Internet Recruiter, and rides one of the largest production motorcycles ever built. His book, Hiring and Retaining Top IT Professionals/The Guide for Savvy Hiring Managers and Job Hunters Alike (Osborne McGraw-Hill) is in local bookstores and available online. He is also working on his second book, The 25 New Rules for Today's Recruiting Professional. See if you are so inclined for the occasional tweet. Email him at


12 Comments on “The Hiring Manager’s Guide to Working With Recruiters

  1. Howard

    Very well written,to the point,using common sense(which is rare today) which even a ‘rookie’ like me can understand and make use of it(in time)

    In recruiting all must be winners(the trio that you mentined)

    I also loved your idea of promoting the company at all times.

    You have made me want to read all your articles from 17th Oct 2002( I joined ERE in Nov 2005) and I will and learn from them.

    thankfully yours,sunil

  2. Howard, you?ve crafted a great template for what is often an uncomfortable dialog for recruiters with hiring managers.

    The devil is in the details, isn’t it? Poor candidate experience is rarely intentional, but it happens all the time. And even the most brilliant employment brand strategy can be shot down in flames when the promise and the experience don?t match for the job seeker.

    A recent study of customer experience by Wharton University said that when it comes to a bad encounter, one person in three will complain to a friend or colleague; however, each of them will tell an average of four other people about the experience, and *all* of them are 5 times as likely to tell someone other than the company about it.

    Bottom line is that in order to get better hires, employers simply must know how they are perceived by the talent they are trying to attract.

    Ignorance may be bliss, but it’s also an arrogant response with a heavy price tag for the business in terms of talent AND customers.

  3. The article was on point. Often the very simple and common sense things go by the wayside when trying to recruit qualified employees. This is definitely an article that will go out to the managers at my organization, just as a reminder, ‘Teamwork’ is essential to make our company the Employer of Choice.

  4. I believe that the content of the advice for hiring managers is valid. I take issue with the manner that each of these points are conveyed to the hiring manager in Howard’s article. The advice comes across as ‘smug’ at times, and dogmatic at others, creating the unintended effect of ‘we are smarter than you, so just please do what we tell you to do, and stop fouling things up’. There is no sense of consultative service being provided, but more a sense of dictating the rules to hiring managers, and scolding them for their inadequacies and lack of understanding.

    In modern organizations, the HR function uses influence, consultative approaches, and value driven tools to provide solutions for general management. Coming across as superior, smug, or dogmatic does not build strong relationships, and often alienates operators from using the function to its fullest capability.

    There are probably better ways to approach the internal clients that one serves to make the points that the article recommends. Rather than demanding and commanding, I believe that ‘selling’ these insights, and helping hiring managers to see the effectiveness of the ‘suggestions’ provided in the article might provide a smoother path to building a working partnership.

    As a third party retained consultant focused on the HR and recruiting functions within leading corporations, I know that we screen very aggressively for these ‘soft’, consultative and influencing skills in every search. When one is managing up within an organization, tact and relationship end up being the currency of the realm.

  5. Hi Howard,

    Great article!

    I like that you took a pro-active approach in putting together a letter for the hiring managers. This not only establishes your role as a ‘team’, but clearly explains ‘why’ you need what you need from THEM! I find that putting things in writing is smart. I think most people appreciate PROCESSES and I have found that most people respond better than one might expect. There are a lot of ‘unspoken’ fears associated with many account executives in handling account teams. These unspoken fears seem to provoke the very thing they fear the most…a break down in the communication of expectations all around that effects the bottom line…getting a qualified candidate HIRED. This of course, puts the account in danger…their greatest fear!

    Your approach lets clients know that you have a process, establishes you as a professional, and clearly asks your clients to assist you in producing the results they hired you for in the first place.

    Early in my career I had a boss who taught me to never be affraid to fire an account that wasn’t working with me. In fact, I wasn’t permitted to release a position to the recruiting team until I had every little piece of information required. The basics of recruiting are still the basics, even when things are so fast moving and competitive. In fact, these are the very things that can keep you ahead of the pack.

    I also like that you point out how important it is for the clients to SELL their company! So many hiring managers are so busy being selective about what they want, they fail to consider what the candidate may be looking for. I do consider this to be the job of the recruiter to uncover this and relay it to the hiring managers, but the hiring managers need to be responsive to what a recruiter has to say. This is why I like your bullet that refers to asking them to communicate with you quickly.

    I haven’t read the article yet that you referred to (I will!), but I do believe if more recruiters would simply ask at what point (salary-wise) the candidate would walk away from a potential offer, and keep them ‘warm & fuzzy’ daily during the process, it would help. So many factors interfere with this in the real world, like simply moving on to the next position needing coverage, which we are all too familiar with.

    Thanks again for a great article! I will look for more from you!

  6. Thanks, Howard. It’s been my experience that hiring managers are often like a baby’s diapers:
    full of crap and requiring frequent changes….


    Keith “Back Again at His Best Halperin

  7. A great example of what the recruitment process should look like. This is a Hiring Manager’s Guide to Recruitment Best Practice.

  8. I think it is an excellent article and that we should “seriously” consider sending to all our clients. @ Thomas – Everyone hears different things in seminars/ meetings and reads an article differently too. I didn’t take it as “do what I tell you do” but rather as ” how we can effectively work together to secure that top talent”. When a hiring mgr doesn’t follow a process things slip through the cracks. I notice you mentioned that you work retained. I have over 40 yr in recruiting with some retained but mostly contingency. I find that those “with skin in the game” (retained) seem to be more open to this kind of communication. On contingency we experience the lack of communication/direction a lot. Would the hiring mgr have greater success if he followed this advise? I think so.

  9. “I find that those “with skin in the game” (retained) seem to be more open to this kind of communication.”

    How true Steve, how true!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *