In the March 12, 2019 Ask The Headhunter Newsletter a manager reveals how he recruits and hires better by doing it himself.
The DIY manager
I’m a hiring manager in engineering and have benefited greatly from your articles as both someone looking to hire talent and as a potential employee. (Most recently: Want the job? Go around HR.) Thanks for the great work and advice.
Things I do differently now:
I do not let HR filter resumes
I review all resumes myself and allocate time to read any that look promising. This was a big change for HR and I was surprised at the initial push-back!
What I found was that HR was hyper-focused on keywords and actually trying to steer hiring managers based on criteria rather than technical skills and relevant experience. It was eye-opening. And yes, doing it myself significantly improved my ability to find great people for my team and the company.
I am always recruiting
I typically spend between one to four hours a week recruiting and interviewing, but it depends on the size of the organization and state of the business. I am always looking for top talent, and I occasionally create openings for the “right” people.
I find it can take months or even years to entice superstar candidates.
Referrals, one at a time
At the moment, I receive most candidate resumes through other hiring managers, directors and V.P.s, who review them individually. Most of my actual hires are referrals from within the company or people I know and go after directly. This is probably not typical of most companies, but we are a small company (50-75 people) doing very specialized work.
I do not apply for jobs posted on websites
Nor do I invest time in random cold calls and e-mails from recruiters, specifically commercial job boards and recruiters that find me on LinkedIn or other websites.
The best access to job opportunities is through your network of current and past co-workers, hiring managers, and reputable recruiters. This can be challenging early in your career, but it also emphasizes the importance of doing good work and not burning bridges.
Thanks again for helping to educate employees and hiring managers everywhere. This stuff should really be taught in school. Do you do seminars for graduating college and university students?
Thanks for your kind note and description of how you hire. (I added some subheadings to emphasize your main points.) I can’t compliment you enough for making recruiting and hiring so personal, and for going around the institutional claptrap.
Going around HR
Taking HR out of the process like you do creates more work for hiring managers – work that should never have been delegated to HR to begin with. (See Why HR should get out of the hiring business.) While some HR folks are savvy about engineering, for example, only the hiring manager really understands the work and grasps the constellation of skills and expertise that would best serve a job.
A manager’s DIY methods for recruiting and hiring
HR has become such an institutionalized method of recruiting at arm’s length that most managers don’t realize how huge the pay-off can be if they invest their own — significant — time in recruiting and candidate selection. Very few managers are as active as you are in finding, assessing and pursuing the best candidates.
You have outlined a critical process, and I’d like to emphasize the things you do to recruit and hire:
- You avoid letting HR “filter” resumes
- Read and judge resumes yourself
- Devote time to review the most promising resumes in depth
- Avoid the distractions of so-called keywords and “criteria”
- Choose candidates based on technical skills and relevant experience
- Avoid random calls and e-mails from recruiters you don’t know or trust
- Avoid database-driven solicitations
- Devote time each week to recruiting and interviewing
- Personally and actively look for and recruit top talent all the time
- Invest months or years to personally pursue and entice the best candidates
- Prefer personal assessments and referrals from reputable people you trust
- Create new jobs for the best talent
- Find your own job opportunities through trusted personal contacts
That’s a powerful deviation from the contemporary, HR-driven, norm — and absolutely necessary if a manager wants to build a great team of the best people. No one can manage finding you a job, and no one can manage your hiring better than you can. I think any manager can learn and benefit from the steps you follow to recruit and hire.
As you’ve found, it’s common to get push-back from HR when you insist on doing your own recruiting and hiring. Hiring is and must always be The manager’s #1 job. And as you’ve also found, the same rules and methods you use to fill jobs will serve you well when you pursue a new job yourself.
“This stuff should be taught in school”
Thanks again for your kind words. To answer your question, yes, I do presentations and workshops for students and new grads. (Including Executive MBA students.) And you’re absolutely correct: This stuff should really be taught in school.
While schools and professional groups hire me for such gigs, I also make a point of doing as many pro bono events as I can each year — for new grads and seasoned professionals. I like to get people from all parts of the career cycle into a room so we can talk and share ideas — and contacts!
It’s a stunning failure of many high schools, colleges and universities that they don’t adequately prepare students for work, and that includes job seeking and hiring. Although I’m a big fan and defender of a liberal arts education, and of education for its own sake, I don’t think any school can justify not incorporating serious lessons about how to get and keep a job into every curriculum. Perhaps the only thing more stunning is that parents who foot the bill for a college education don’t demand it. (See Your First Job: 20 pointers for new graduates.)
A challenge to managers: Do your own recruiting and hiring!
I want to thank manager John Phillips for sharing his recruiting and hiring practices with us. (And it does take practice!) But I don’t think any manager who leaves these crucial tasks to HR is really managing. Do you?
If you’re a manager, what’s your take on all this? Is recruiting and hiring your job — or is it mostly (or entirely) HR’s? How do you do it at your company? What additional tips would you add to the list above? If you’re a job seeker, how often do you encounter managers who do it themselves? Is it any better when HR is merely peripheral to the process?