Why You Need to Make HR Your Ally in the Hiring Process

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Almost every training class, seminar and professional group I’ve attended has warned that human resources departments are the recruiter’s obstacle.

They block deals! They cut our fees! I’ve been repeatedly cautioned to avoid human resource departments and get direct access to the hiring managers.

But, I would like every recruiter to know that I have billed millions of dollars throughout my recruiting career largely due to one department: human resources.

Having HR quarterback the deal

Before you call me crazy, I certainly understand the need to work with hiring managers. I prefer, however, to have HR introduce me to the hiring managers and then have the HR manager quarterback the deal.

Yes, many of us avoid human resources because working directly with hiring managers can lead to quicker placements. But let’s face it – hiring managers can be sloppy. A “quick” placement has often not been properly screened and can be a potential land mine. Nothing smashes a relationship with a company like a candidate who doesn’t cut it at work or quits six months after starting.

During the economic downturn of 2008-2010, and subsequent HR cutbacks, I worked with several hiring managers. Some hiring managers made offers to my candidates before the applications were completed. In one case, a client had to rescind an offer once it was learned that the candidate had a felony.

How HR helps

Here’s one example of why you should go through HR:

After briefly interviewing a young candidate who said he had a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering, I sent his resume to the hiring manager and waited for feedback. Within a few hours, the hiring manager reviewed the resume, quickly contacted the candidate, and asked him to fly out for an interview.

Instead of thoroughly screening the candidate, the hiring manager emotionally determined this candidate was an excellent fit for the position. The hiring manager never once called me to discuss the candidate or ask me to further screen the candidate. Actually, if the candidate had not called me, I would not have known that the hiring manager had even spoken to him.

After the on-site interview, the hiring manager quickly offered the job to the candidate, and the candidate accepted. Corporate HR then stepped in, ran its routine background checks, and found the candidate actually did not have a degree in chemical engineering.

The hiring manager called me, absolutely furious, screaming that I misrepresented the candidate. I, of course, called the candidate who explained that although he did “walk” at his graduation, he was still finishing his last course.

I almost lost the client due to impulsive actions by a hiring manager.

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HR crosses your “t”s and dots your “i”s

Human resources will take longer to approve placements because HR is very thorough, dotting every “i” and crossing every “t.” It will, however, ensure a better, lasting match for the position, which is ultimately best for the recruiter and the client.

Like all professions, there will be some human resources professionals who do not want to work with recruiters; this comes with being a headhunter. However, in my experience, most HR professionals clearly understand the need to fill open positions as well as the great amount of work require.

Most HR professionals are swamped with work, and simply do not have the time to even think about recruiting candidates for positions. In fact, I know many HR professionals who have gone to their hiring departments and advocated for the need to pay headhunters.

Absolutely do not try to bypass human resources. Remember, HR is your key to future placements with the client. If you know that HR is handling a position yet go directly to the hiring manager, you most likely will not receive another job order from that company.

Make HR your ally

To put it simply, your work with that company will be done. If you had respected protocol and worked with human resources, these same HR professionals could have given you countless opportunities within their company. Also, in this economy it’s likely that an HR professional may eventually be working for a new company, providing the favorite recruiter with a new client.

The success I’ve had with my No. 1 client has been based on great relationships with its HR departments. I have placed more than 100 candidates with this client, including eight HR managers with the company.

I made it my priority to know many of the HR managers on a personal level, and I consider many of them to be my professional friends. We may not go out every weekend, but we certainly will take the time to go out to dinner when our paths cross.

These HR professionals aren’t hurdles for recruiters. They’re an ally.

David Fishman, the managing partner of Sparrow Company, a bi-national company incorporated in both Mexico and the United States, has worked his way to the top of the United States recruiting market. David has recruited for over 18 years, including acting as the vice president of a large recruiting firm for eight years. Early in his career, David established himself as a top performer within the industrial minerals, cement and mining industries.

In August 2009, David started his own company, Sparrow Company, LLC, and has worked to establish Sparrow as a prominent recruiting company, servicing industries in the Los Angeles and Orange County (Calif) markets. Partnering with several multinational companies, he has placed individuals into top and mid-level management positions globally. David openly calls himself a “generalist,” placing individuals at all levels within a varied portfolio of clients. He has established an effective research company, operating from Tijuana, Mexico, while also expanding his direct placement reach to the maquiladora (manufacturing) industry. David is very proud of the members of his team, who effectively facilitate the recruiting and research services of Sparrow Company.

David’s success has been recognized with a membership to the Pinnacle Society, the nation’s premier consortium of top recruiters within the permanent placement and search industry. He is a regular contributor to The Fordyce Letter. He also submits to recruiting blogs and has been the guest speaker, as a high volume recruiting expert, to various organizations and groups.


2 Comments on “Why You Need to Make HR Your Ally in the Hiring Process

  1. David: This is an interesting article and there are some valid points, but I think you may be generalizing. Though you make a case for HR involvement I, personally, have never experienced what you’re discussing. I don’t work with HR unless they reach out to me to engage me. If this happens and the search makes sense for me, I’m delighted to work with them in conjunction with hiring managers. I work with hiring managers who are usually VP Sales, Founders, and CXOs.

    I also think you’re not being accountable for your relationship with the hiring manager that called the candidate directly without going through you. I’ve NEVER had this happen. This example indicates a poor working relationship with the manager and saying HR could have prevented it is a cop out. I make sure I do a background check and blind references to avoid the issue you speak about, unless HR (if there is HR) wants to do it.

    Yes, HR should be your ally, but only if/when it makes sense given the company and type of search you’re doing. It sounds like the client you refer to is a giant company, and I’m sure it makes sense for you. Plus, placing HR folks gives you a different viewpoint.

  2. Why do you need a “lasting match for the position”? The irony is that HR departments spend all their time trying to find the most qualified candidates who, of course, don’t need the job. Who wants organisations no one leaves or no one moves on from? They are the soul of atrophy who help management believe their own twaddle that the primary motivation for anyone is not pecuniary. If we all won the lottery no one would turn up for work on Monday morning. But of course the middle clas fools who believe in HR don’t believe in “work” they believe in careers. How much effort does it take to ask for a degree certificate? And why is it a big deal if you make a bad hire? You can always take people on for a trial period and no one has any employment rights really for the first two years so what’s the problem except someone might have to have an emotion? This leads us onto what is ideologically wrong with HR … It is simply a continuation of the Puritan/Protestant work ethic where people are encouraged to define themselves and their worth entirely by the work they do and nothing else. Thus the idea that work should always be enjoyable and everyone who doesn’t enjoy their job should not be employed because they are a bad “fit” is endlessly promoted. The idea that work is work not play is a heresy resulting in people who think grunt work is beneath them. Then there’s the ludicrous psychology promoted by the likes of the late racist eugenicist Professor Cattell who saw people not as individuals but as a series of personality types to be “fitted” to jobs in the same way a toddler fits shapes into a shape puzzle. Absolutely anything except actually managing people but when the occupational psychologist have selected your personalities and the project plans have told your employees how to run the projects for you what is there left for you as a manager to do yourself? And what is there left in you that lives?

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