Just about every week I listen to recruiters complain that their hiring manager has gone rogue during the recruiting process. This goes for corporate as well as agency recruiters and spans companies small and large. The question is not “does this happen;” the question is “why is it happening?”

Let’s face it. Some hiring leaders are just unreasonable pains in the ass, but even these people can be coached to being an ally and not the daily enemy.

Do any of these points hit home?:

• My hiring leader just disappeared in the middle of the process.
• My hiring leader doesn’t know what they want.
• My hiring leader thinks they know more about recruiting than I do.
• My hiring leader wants to do everything his/her way.

You get my point. We have all experienced the pain that goes along with these thoughts and how difficult it makes the role of a recruiter. Our jobs become thankless, unfulfilling, and downright miserable. We’re cranky, irritated, and suffer from too many sleepless nights. Sound familiar?

Before we look at the “how” let’s look at the “why.” Why do so manager hiring leaders create a chasm between themselves and their recruiting consultant? Are they all incompetent, or are other influences to blame for our demise?

The Origin of the Monster

Speak to any hiring leader and they’ll tell you horror stories about an insufferable agency or corporate recruiter they had to deal with. They lament about the crappy communication, the lack of quality candidates, or the time it takes to fill a role. Although facts very situationally, it creates a perception that all recruiters suck. And yes, some of us do suck, but there are many fantastic recruiting professionals subjected to the same thing.

So, why is this happening? Consider these thoughts:

• Hiring leaders have been burned, and the consequence is a negative predisposition of all recruiters. You need to dig out of a hole you didn’t even create!
• Too many recruiters set little to no expectations for the process. When we skimp out on establishing expectations, we’re left with our assumptions. And since assumptions are based on previous experiences… you get my drift.
• It’s possible that since the hiring leader is a CEO, VP, etc., there’s an air of intimidation, which then creates a sense of fear.

There are just a few of many reasons this disconnect occurs. Add your thoughts in the comments below.



In the meantime, let’s switch gears and look at how we can turn our enemies into allies. I’ll break this into 4 categories: consult, communicate, candidate, and coach.


The role of the recruiting professional is to serve as a consultant—not an obedient dog. When performing the intake sessions, are you offering advice, pinpointing challenges based on fact, making recommendations, etc.? Too many recruiters (wrongfully) act inferior to the hiring leader when they could easily be their biggest ally!


The recruiting professional is the person responsible for setting the tone for how communication should and will occur. Really step it up a notch and be familiar with business terms, like revenue, market share, and profitability. It goes further than requisition, job order, posting, etc. Drop the HR speak and learn some business concepts!


Hiring leaders often complain that their recruiter doesn’t know the candidates. The running joke is that if the candidate has a heartbeat and meets the bare minimum criteria on paper, they’ll submit them. Be honest with yourself. Do you know what you’re looking for? Can you describe how the candidate meets the need for capacity, character, competency, and culture fit? Do you know candidate pains? Or what about the pleasure they have in their current role? What about career pursuits?


Do you follow the lead of your hiring leader or can you coach them using questions? Coaching is not about telling them what they should be looking for or what needs they have on their team. Coaching is asking crucial questions designed to get people to use their brains.

• What’s working in your group?
• What’s not working in your group?
• Why is it not working?
• What have you done to address the issues/employee

Crucial questions like that should get the hiring leader to really analyze their situation and how it relates to the candidates, processes, and strategies you recommend. If we’re going to be true talent consultants, we need to know what questions to ask.

Don’t spend time worrying about who is right and who’s wrong. Understand that the hiring manager’s perspective is mostly due to past experiences. Right and wrong is an implication that there are losers and winners. Create a win-win situation and provide real value that blows the socks off of your hiring leader.

Happy hunting!


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