I continue to enjoy Mike Urbonas‘s blog because the guy has an eye for bureaucracy masquerading as expertise. Got a problem landing the job you want? It’s probably because you’re listening to bad advice. Got a problem filling a key job in your organization? Make an executive decision, and start a war with the Human Resources department later.

I’ve got a lot of friends in the HR world, and I respect them greatly. Then there are the HR bureaucrats that I refer to as personnel jockeys. And that’s who Mike highlights in his excellent mini-expose Just Ivy Leaguers for these Bush League Recruiters? Briefly, Mike critiques Boston Globe columnist Pattie Hunt Sinacole’s Job Doc column Beyond the Ivies. Sinacole advises a manager and the person the manager wants to hire — and tells them to go convince the HR department that the manager should be allowed to hire the candidate he wants to hire.

Does that sound like a big deal? Yah, it is. Managers should hire who they want to hire, not who HR dictates. Sinacole recommends that the manager might be able to hire who he wants by bending himself into a pretzel and playing games with HR. She suggests the manager’s challenge is “to influence his peers and his HR department.”

Urbonas sees this a little differently: “It raises the question as to the role recruiters should play in the hiring process.” I agree. The manager can solve his problem simply by telling HR to butt out:

  1. Hire the candidate and tell HR to process the paperwork.
  2. Tell HR to stay out of his recruiting and hiring, since he — not HR — is responsible for his department’s success. When HR is willing to take responsibility for the manager’s department, then HR can hire who it wants.

In other words, shoot now (hire the candidate) and start a war with HR later (change the hiring policy and eliminate Stupid Hiring Mistakes). I believe in cooperation between departments in an organization. But I also believe that he who holds the bag should decide what’s going in it — in this case, who the manager is going to hire.

Sinacole is an HR consultant who has worked in the HR world a long time. No surprise that her advice is to appease HR. My advice to the manager: Tell HR to get out of the way and hire who you want. My advice to the person the manager wants to hire: If the manager cowers before HR, head for the hills or soon you, too, will be getting whipped by HR.


  1. Nick…well said. This happens all the time. One place I worked HR took over not only hiring, but all kinds of training, even reviews….after all, they were “good” at it.

  2. I work in HR and I agree with you 100% with a caveat. If this organization does any government work, this hiring activity wouldn’t pass muster with the OFCCP.

  3. ditto with the above posters…..

    I have experience in HR, and my theory is that I don’t know what a department needs even if I am told, because they are the SME’s my job is still a service….so I process their needs to effectively make it happen as quickly as I can….countless HR people think that because they know certain rules, they know everything….uhhh anyone can look it up on the net at shrm.org…….

  4. The HR department NEEDS TO LISTEN to the hiring manager of each department to determine the kind of qualifications needed in staffing their departments.

    Then the hiring manager NEEDS TO RESPECT the
    HR department when they have provided a professional screening service to help protect them from a hiring mistake that could lead to costly frustrations in the future. I think it needs to be said that the HR department is not always at liberty to discuss openly some hiring issues which could lead to litigation.

    And sometimes the HR department is viewed through the lense of stereotypes based on suspiscion alone. And this is unfortunate.