HR and Recruitment: 4 Questions Search Consultants Should Ask

There’s no way around it. There is sometimes conflict between independent, third-party recruiters and the Human Resources department of a company or organization. Or at the very least, there is miscommunication and confusion. But what are the roles of HR and recruitment in the hiring process? And how can recruiters navigate the process?

In an ideal situation, HR and recruitment would be working with each other, not against each other. Sadly, that is not always the case. In fact, the two parties sometimes view each other as almost enemies. Nothing could be further from the truth.

HR and recruitment: working toward the same goal

When it comes to HR and recruitment, both parties should be working toward the same goal. That goal is to hire the best person for the position. Mind you, that’s not the best person who is looking for a new job. It’s the best person that exists in the marketplace, whether they’re looking for a new job or not. Basically, it’s the difference between an active job seeker and a passive candidate.

In many cases, an independent, third-party recruiting agency has the time, energy, and resources to pursue and recruit passive candidates. On the other hand, HR representatives rarely have that kind of time. They have other tasks and duties to carry out. As a result, they often deal with active job seekers only, which shrinks the talent pool. And when you have a shallow talent pool, the quality of your hire is not as high as it could be.

And this is why there should be a strategic partnership between HR and recruitment in the employment marketplace.

The importance of a client-centered approach

However, it falls at least partly on the shoulders of recruiters to help make this a reality. To help us determine why this is the case, we’re going to draw upon the wisdom of Terry Petra, one of the recruiting industry’s leading trainers and business consultants. Petra has extensive experience as a producer, manager, and trainer in all areas of professional search, including retainer, contingency, and contract, as well as clerical/office support and temporary.

According to Petra, In order for the positive impact of a client-centered recruiting process to reach its maximum, the HR department must be properly positioned. At no other time is this more important than when you are attempting to execute the principles of this client-centered process.

First of all, let’s be clear on the timing. We’re not talking about an initial marketing call where the hiring manager quickly brushes you off and sends you to HR. In many instances, this is simply an attempt to get rid of you. In these cases, it is important to first establish with the manager whether or not an opening actually exists. This needs to be accomplished prior to determining whether it is in anyone’s best interest for you to contact HR.

HR and recruitment: enemies or allies?

For the purposes of this article, the timing we are referencing is somewhat further along in the process. You and the hiring manager have already discussed the opening and agreed on the overall terms and conditions of your working relationship. It is generally at this point that the hiring manager brings up Human Resources or a specific individual within the HR department. When this occurs, you need to be prepared to work with your client in properly positioning HR in the process.

Remember: HR can be an ally or an enemy. It depends on YOU!

It’s important to quickly determine what role, if any, Human Resources will play in the client-centered process you are about to implement. This is why search consultants should ask these four questions about the role of HR and recruitment in the hiring process:

1. Specifically, what is the role of HR in this process?

Without being confrontational, you need to first determine from the hiring manager, exactly where they see the HR department or individual fitting into the process. You may need to also ask, “Why do they perform this specific role?”

2. Based on your experience with HR, how well do you believe they fulfill their role?

It is at this point that you are trying to gauge the level of confidence the hiring manager has in the company’s HR function. Be aware that you will also learn through this and subsequent questions, what level of authority and responsibility are ascribed to the HR department, as well as to the hiring manager. As a follow-up question, you may need to ask, “Why do you say that?” You can also ask, “Can you provide me with a specific example of why you believe that about HR?”

3. What should be my expectation when I contact HR?

This may be the most important question. This is because it cuts to the very heart of the client-centered process. In order for this process to deliver the best possible results, there must be an appropriate focus. That focus should be on maximizing the effectiveness of both parties’ collective resources. However, without the full support of the process by everyone involved, the following will happen:

  • Time will be wasted.
  • Resources will be squandered.
  • Ultimately, the end result will be compromised.

It is not a question of whether or not HR should be involved. Rather, you need to determine that if they are involved, will they serve a useful role in supporting the client-centered process? If the answer is “Yes,” their involvement can prove to be critical. However, if the hiring manager is uncertain, then that could prove to be a problem. If this is the case, then you need to stop the process. Then you need to explain what can (and perhaps has) happen(ed) when they are involved in the process. This is particularly valid when you are implementing a client-centered process. That’s because there is almost no margin for error and where the appropriate outcome is critical to the success of the hiring manager.

Based on how the hiring manager answers this question, you may choose to ask a role reversal question. “If our roles were reversed and I had just shared with you this expectation, how would you react and what impact would that have on your willingness to work with me?”

Listen carefully to the answer because it could make or break the deal. However, if it does break the deal, it is better to find out now rather than six weeks from now. Why wait until after you have invested your time, effort and resources, only to come up against an immovable object that kills the deal?

4. When I call HR, how do you want me to position our discussion?

The answer to this question will go a long way in determining whether or not the hiring manager truly has the authority and responsibility to work with you in a manner that is consistent with the client-centered process. If the hiring manager becomes defensive or is not comfortable in fulfilling the dominant role in the process, then you have a problem. You are clearly working with the wrong person. You may need to ratchet your relationship up a notch or two in order to locate a manager or executive who truly has the internal power required to properly interact with you throughout this exacting process.

Remember: Ignorance is at the foundation of most problems involving HR and recruitment. That ignorance can rest with the hiring manager, the HR representative or with the recruiter. However, in many instances, it rests with all three.

Ignorance is just an absence of knowledge. Most importantly, it may be nothing more than an absence of knowledge on how best to utilize the collective resources of everyone involved. That is where the true power and versatility of the client-centered process will make the difference. With this process in place, everyone involved is dedicated to achieving the agreed upon outcome. Simply put, any other result is unacceptable.

Everyone should work together to achieve the common goal. This can only happen if you properly position HR and recruitment. Specifically, you must position all parties so that responsibilities, accountabilities, and timetables are assigned and committed at the beginning the process. The answers to the above four questions will serve as a foundation for making this a reality.

Top Echelon’s Training Library

Top Echelon offers a free monthly webinar as part of its Recruiter Coaching Series. After the webinars are over, we post the recorded version of the webinars in our Recruiter Training Library. These webinars touch upon a variety of recruiter-related topics. These topics deal with both candidates and clients. As always, our goal with these webinars (and corresponding videos) is to help recruiters make more placements.

In addition to training and webinars, Top Echelon offers other recruitment solutions. These solutions include the following:

For more information about Top Echelon and the products and services that it offers, visit the Top Echelon website by clicking here.