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Do You Complain or Do You Train?

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When we first got our family dog about 12 years ago, I was just as excited as my kids. Unfortunately, we had a series of pets over the previous decade that, for whatever reason, didn’t work out. Miszu (pronounced meeshu) is a Havanese, originally bred by Cuban aristocracy, and known to be pleasant, non-shedding and great with learning tricks.

Like any puppy, Miszu was excited to be in his new home. That excitement led to “happy peeing” a few times—wetting the carpet across our house. Being the neat freak that I am (probably borderline OCD), my initial reaction was to blow up at the dog and scare him into peeing even more!

I finally realized that we can approach this in one of two ways: I can complain about this puppy and create a bigger problem, or I can do my part to train him and teach him what he is supposed to do when he needs to relieve himself. In our case I compromised and got my wife to train him! And that she did. Twelve years later, he is almost the perfect dog – no accidents, no leash, hardly any barking, and is the best possible companion.

Hiring Managers are not dogs!

I am in no way suggesting that hiring managers are dogs or that techniques we used to train our Miszu should be used on our hiring managers. What I am saying is that we have 2 choices: we can continue to complain about our hiring managers or we can try to train them.

Like most recruiters, I belong to number of great Facebook and LinkedIn groups where recruiters collaborate, seek advice, share best practices. One of the other things we all do (me included), is whine and complain about the hiring managers we deal with.

What We Often Think

You and I have both used some choice words to describe a client manager or internal manager. We say things like:

The hiring manger just doesn’t respond
- The hiring manager has no clue how to interview
- The hiring manager doesn’t have a freaking clue of what they want
- The hiring manager keeps changing their mind
- The hiring manager is a cheap ass
- And many other things I cannot repeat here


All of things might in fact be true. The question is: What can YOU do about it?

What could I do to help Miszu learn what he didn’t know?

I had the choice to complain or help train him to notify us when he need to relieve himself—along with my wife, I chose to train him, and the results speak for themselves.

Although I am over-simplifying the situation, the principal remains today. We can complain about our hiring managers and do nothing to change their behavior, or we can help train them.

We Created This Mess.

Many hiring managers act the way they do because as recruiters, we trained them that it was OK to act that way.

When they show up late for an interview, we didn’t call them out. When they didn’t return our calls we just emailed them a bunch of resumes to sift through. When they didn’t give feedback on the candidate they interviewed, we made the excuse they were busy. When they said the candidate “just didn’t fit”, we didn’t press them for the real why.

Know I am figuratively using “we” as the collective body of recruiters. At some point in our careers we did one or more of the things above and helped train the manager that is was Ok not to reply. It was Ok to blow off the candidate. It was Ok to………You get my point.

Over the years WE either created the behaviors many hiring mangers have, or we didn’t correct them—and now we spend hours complaining to our co-workers and social media followers how most suck!

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Year

First; we need to change our mindsets and realize that if we put the same energy into retraining our managers that we put into complaining about them, we may actually move the needle. Then we need to realize that change does not happen overnight. Building good habits takes tons of repetition. Breaking bad habits and replacing them with good habits takes even longer—and with twice the work!

Second; we need to start small. Wholesale change in behavior does not happen overnight! If you have a manager who never gives feedback on resumes you present, change your approach. Instead of sending an email with the typical note of “let me know what you think,” leave them a message that you need to discuss a particular candidate and why you think they need to bring them in right away for an interview. If they respond with “send me a resume first,” DON’T! Explain that much of the info you have uncovered cannot be properly captured on the resume.

Many Hiring Managers are notorious for not providing feedback after a phone or in person interview. Usually when I look into the process, the recruiter didn’t schedule a debrief call at the same time they confirmed the interview—WHY NOT?

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of small changes that recruiters can make to ensure they began to train their hiring managers. With Miszu it took weeks and months of repetition to get years of pleasure. Isn’t it worth changing your mindset and becoming part of the solution instead of exacerbating the problem?

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