What Senior Managers Expect from Recruiters

I often find HR people (and recruiters in particular) with an insufficient understanding of the business that they are recruiting for. One of the ways to avoid that pitfall is to talk directly to the senior managers in order to identify their expectations. If you want to get an idea of what managers expect, look at this summary of the expectations of the senior managers from a leading hi-tech firm. The Importance of Staffing

  • only applicants but investors demand that we have and then communicate a compelling message as to what makes our company a great place to work.
  • We need to focus on a few things that give us a competitive advantage. Almost 60% of our costs are people cost, so we need leadership in people practices.
  • The lack of talent impacts the firm’s ability to grow.
  • Our business lives or dies on its ability to attract and retain talent.

What Managers Need

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  • General Manager needs flexibility from the recruiting function on exactly how they are allowed to recruit.
  • The more rules that HR imposes, the less able managers are to respond to the changing environment.
  • We can’t have our managers wasting too much of their time doing recruiting. Recruiting needs to provide them with just a few great candidates so they don’t their waste time.
  • Good managers are not automatically good recruiters, they need to be trained to be effective.
  • Our mangers must network at industry forums in order to identify the top talent that we will target.

Recruiting/HR Needs To:

  • We need to benchmark recruiting transaction cost against the best in the industry. In the value added side of recruiting, however, quality not cost is the target.
  • We need to focus on a few things that give us a competitive advantage. Almost 60% of our cost are people cost, so we need leadership in people practices.
  • The growth areas in technology are in service and support and we need to get better at recruiting in those areas.
  • We need to have a zero tolerance for bad performance.
  • Recruiting needs to anticipate our skill sets well ahead of us and then be able to tell us where to get them.
  • We need to send out an image that we are “hip” and “with it.”
  • Our fastest growth is outside the US, but recruiters don’t know how to get good people outside of the US.
  • We need to be in continuous search mode for top talent.
  • We need to eliminate functional structures within HR if we are to improve recruiting.
  • Recruiting needs to anticipate the market if we are going to get the best people.
  • If you could do half of what Cisco does in recruiting, we would be extremely happy.
  • If you wait for consensus opinion to make a bold move…it will never happen.
  • We need to break the culture of only hiring people of “like kind.”
  • Some managers are just terrible at hiring. We put the best managers in a hiring team and got significant results.
  • “Sun Microsystems” goes to college campuses, interviews the student, and makes a hiring offer in one day… Why can’t we?
  • We need to act like our competitors…they hire away a section manager and they automatically get 2-3 other hires.
  • We have to learn to be more diverse and inclusive.
  • Employees in facilities located in remote areas used to be safe from poaching by other firms, that is no longer true in today’s world of competitive recruiting.
  • It is really hard but HR has to learn how to say no to many good ideas and good people and focus on a few important things.


  1. Everybody has the problem so why try?
  2. We can’t pay any more? Who cares about equity?
  3. Can you show the ROI of good recruiting?
  4. Why does it take so long?
  5. Why do you always act like a cop?
  6. Always too many resumes?
  7. Why can’t I ask what I want in an interview?
  8. Why do you keep sending me idiots to interview?
  9. I need people with more experience.
  10. It’s “your” job to find and select them.
  11. I’m too busy to recruit.
  12. If you didn’t tie my hands I could do it.
  13. I’m not rewarded for doing it well so why should I care?
  14. Can you show me the data on the effectiveness of your tools/ sources?
  15. IT is changing so fast why do I need a job description?
  16. The pay ranges are all wrong!
  17. My recruiter doesn’t understand business!
  18. Why not just outsource it?
  19. Why isn’t it global?
  20. Why is no one in charge of retention?
  21. Why no reward for great recruiting?
  22. Why no recruitment training?
  23. Do we have data to show why people are leaving?
  24. What tools are available? Do you have proof they work?
  25. Can I give a bonus?
  26. What is our turnover rate? What is a good one/
  27. What is the cost of a turn?

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on staging.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.



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