Improving Communication between Hiring Managers and Recruitment Agencies

It’s a relationship fraught with angst, frustration and grief, far too often, when in reality it needs to come down to active collaboration: Hiring Managers and Recruitment Agencies need to heed some important points for managing the relationship between them, before working together to achieve their goal. Pioneering People can’t stress this enough – when it comes to a successful recruitment partnership, effective communication is everything.

Take Your Time at the Start

The nature of the beast is often such that the Hiring Manager didn’t get to pick and choose when they had to take up the gauntlet of recruitment once more. To them recruitment is an evil that interferes with the real business of getting on with their job. The result is that it’s all too easy for them to contact a Recruitment Agency flying by the seat of their pants, desperate to pass the buck as quickly as possible.

Unfortunately, there are far too many Recruitment Agents out there willing to take the task, get a signature on the dotted line, and run with it. This is instead of using their skills to guide the Hiring Manager in to an understanding that they need to put in a little time and effort at this stage, in order to pay dividends (in terms of both time and money) in the long run.

The first contact between Hiring Manager and Recruitment Agent needs time. For the Hiring Manager they need to understand that whilst this isn’t the most desirable element of their job, it is an important one, and they must approach it as the essential task it is. For the Recruitment Agent they need to use this first round of communication as a chance to set expectations, and truly get to know and understand the needs and requirements. This is the time to dedicate to drafting an organised, specific, brief.

Speak One Another’s Language

Recruiters live and breathe recruitment. It’s all too easy to get lost in the jargon of the industry without taking the time to understand the language of the industry you’re recruiting for. The onus is on the Recruitment Agency here: get to know and understand the industry you are recruiting for as if it is your own. Then remove your Recruiter’s Jargon, and communicate on the same page. If it’s a seismic oil-exploration industry that is used to boats – and therefore calls it’s office-based teams ‘Crews’ – you do the same. If they are a theme park who call all their staff ‘Cast Members’ – you do the same. Remember as a Recruiter, you know your industry inside out, and the Hiring Manager knows theirs. But this is largely a one-way street, and the role of the Recruitment Agent to get on board with the right lingo.

Foster Trust in all Communications

On both sides, Recruitment Agents and Hiring Managers need to say what they mean and mean what they say. Stick to your word. If you say you’ll get back to the other side on Monday morning, you get back to them on Monday morning. Don’t make false promises that you can’t keep. For the Recruitment Agent this means don’t be unrealistic about the candidates you’ve got coming in, and for Hiring Managers this means not simply saying what the Recruitment Agent wants to hear to get them off your back. Remember, this is a collaboration, you’re both on the same side.

Hiring Managers – Be an Active Participant

Don’t simply sit back and wait for the best to come to you. Whilst your Recruitment Agent is employed to fill your vacancy, they can’t do it in the dark. If you want the best then you are going to have to be proactive in this partnership, and not simply reactive and always caught on the back foot. Say when is a good time to dedicate to the task, and then make yourself available. Importantly, for key elements of the process that rely on you, don’t become a bottleneck and your own worst enemy.

For some worthwhile data on how the communication and relationship between the Recruitment Agent and the Hiring Manager effects the overall outcome of the process, check out this study by the iCIMS Hire Expectations Institute. They analysed 400,000 jobs and surveyed 375 hiring managers and 600 recruiters to see where bottlenecks typically arise. They found that the average CV spends the longest time of all, 37% in total, sat with the Hiring Manager, longer than the interview stage even. Don’t be the bottleneck – this process is to benefit you.

Never Stop Communicating

The more open and frequent the communications, the more you collaborate together and understand each other. They needn’t be long communications, but regular time touching base and getting an understanding of where the other one is, is time well spent. This way you’re not wasting time trying to get up to speed each time you get in touch.

This approach is absolutely essential when it comes to feedback – on both sides. This facilitates a continuous improvement loop. If the Hiring Manager takes the time to explain the reasons a candidate wasn’t suitable, then the Recruitment Agent knows not to submit a similar candidate again. If the Recruitment Agent feeds back to the Hiring Manager that several good candidates are being put off by the Hiring Manager’s low salary offers, then this is valuable information for moving forward. This continual de-briefing process moves you along the recruitment channel towards your overall goal.

Communicate Consistently

Finally, work on consistency in your communication. For each side to be able to trust the other, and for both sides to move seamlessly through the recruitment process, there must be consistency. It’s no good if one week the Hiring Manager is firing off emails to the Recruitment Agent a dozen times a day, and then the next is not contactable. This doesn’t facilitate trust and a productive recruitment environment.

Consider using some Recruiting Tools, such as the customisable ones from The Recruitment Toolbox  , to facilitate a consistent approach to your recruitment.

Harmony Reigns

With these tips incorporated into the relationship, you’ll be well on the way to improving communication between Hiring Managers and Recruitment Agencies in pursuit of your goal: fast, efficient, cost-effective recruitment.