As a recruiter, what are the main challenges you face when working with HR? Have you ever turned an HR roadblock into an opportunity?

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I like this questions a lot just based on my current role and where I used to be.  I worked for a recruiting/consulting conglomerate for roughly 4 years and the resounding point on the "account management" side was to STAY AWAY FROM HR!  The reasoning was that HR would either slow down the process or try to put the kibosh on working with that agency or firm. 

 

A lot has to do with hiring managers thinking their opening is the most important or not having a realistic timeline for getting that candidate in the door.  They engage in talks with firms that they feel will have someone on their doorstep the next day as opposed to the formal req process through HR. 

 

Another aspect is the sourcing capabilities of the HR group.  Everyone in HR will say they are capable of sourcing candidates, but if most of your job is centered around benefits, you aren't honing your sourcing skills as effectively as someone who solely does sourcing.  A lot of HR personnel will take it personally if a hiring manager tries to cut a PO to a staffing firm for a candidate they themselves think they can source.  Most of my experience on the agency side was that if HR got involved, the process slowed horribly!  I was also hiring senior-level technology positions, but typically speaking, the companies were technology companies (meaning their HR staff should have some tech savviness). 

 

I understand the arguments both ways, but if the need was perceived by the hiring manager and relayed to HR in a timely fashion, the hurray up mentality should subside quite a bit.  There are plenty of circumstances where the expertise and quick sourcing of a firm are absolutely justifiable even with a capable HR staff.  For instance, we recently had a client say they would sign our technology contract as long as we had someone on our call center staff that spoke fluent Mandarin.  Since that is something I have no expertise in or how to truly identify that someone speaks fluent Mandarin (not to mention the time crunch), we will be talking with several staffing firms instead of trying to "reinvent the wheel" so to speak.

Jessica,

Yes, you can certainly turn that HR roadblock into an opportunity.  Being in the industry, I've come across many road blocks, but you just have to be persistent and seperate yourself from the rest of the pack. Rather than harass clients, listen to the contact you're trying to develop a relationship with.  Respect their time and you will start to develop trust.  Many recruiters take the approach of calling on a set schedule and that shows on sales calls.  Companies come to almost expect the calls and they are already tuned off before you get them on the phone. My advice is listen to what they have to say, be persistent and seperate yourself from the back. It may take time, but ultimately you'll develop that long-term relationship! Good luck!

-Rob

I have spent years working with both sides of this equation to improve this ultimately mutual relationship.

Here is an article I wrote years ago that addresses the issues: ERE: Love Actually= Third Party Recruiters and HR/Staffing

Valuable insight - thanks Rob!

Robert Harvie said:

Jessica,

Yes, you can certainly turn that HR roadblock into an opportunity.  Being in the industry, I've come across many road blocks, but you just have to be persistent and seperate yourself from the rest of the pack. Rather than harass clients, listen to the contact you're trying to develop a relationship with.  Respect their time and you will start to develop trust.  Many recruiters take the approach of calling on a set schedule and that shows on sales calls.  Companies come to almost expect the calls and they are already tuned off before you get them on the phone. My advice is listen to what they have to say, be persistent and seperate yourself from the back. It may take time, but ultimately you'll develop that long-term relationship! Good luck!

-Rob

"Ultimately mutual relationship" - great point about the the dichotomy between recruiters and HR, Jeremy.  I think it's pretty easy to forget there is a common goal.  Thanks for sharing your article.

Jeremy Eskenazi said:

I have spent years working with both sides of this equation to improve this ultimately mutual relationship.

Here is an article I wrote years ago that addresses the issues: ERE: Love Actually= Third Party Recruiters and HR/Staffing

Reiterating what Rob said, that long-term relationship is key, and yes, takes time to build. We recently dove into this concept of building long-term partnerships with clients and why it is so important. To learn more and talk about it further, check out our brief and recent blog post:

Fruit Baskets Don't Make Long-Term Relationships

Best of luck with with this process, Jessica! 

Jessica Lunk said:

Valuable insight - thanks Rob!

Robert Harvie said:

Jessica,

Yes, you can certainly turn that HR roadblock into an opportunity.  Being in the industry, I've come across many road blocks, but you just have to be persistent and seperate yourself from the rest of the pack. Rather than harass clients, listen to the contact you're trying to develop a relationship with.  Respect their time and you will start to develop trust.  Many recruiters take the approach of calling on a set schedule and that shows on sales calls.  Companies come to almost expect the calls and they are already tuned off before you get them on the phone. My advice is listen to what they have to say, be persistent and seperate yourself from the back. It may take time, but ultimately you'll develop that long-term relationship! Good luck!

-Rob

The main problem I face when dealing with HR or as I like to call them "The Gestapo" is that they are recruiting from a tick list they seldom have any knowledge of the role they are recruiting and cannot be reasoned with when you have an excellent applicant who is a little bit different but is a potential star.  They also procrastinate and dawdle, clock of at 5pm on the dot and don't allow you any contact with the hiring manager, they give terrbile feedback on applicants interviews and are seldom interested in hearing my applicants feedback, they wait weeks then give applicants 48 hours notice of an interview and are upset when they can't make it, if things go right there is little thanks and if things go wrong well you would think we where responsible for the downfall of their entire company.  I do get on well with some HR people and don't want to tar them all with the same brush the one's with a consultative approach really get the best out of me and vice versa, but on the whole they are small minded, pencil pushing jobworths who are constantly trying to justify their existence......................Rant over

A person's title may or may not indicate anything.  Some of my best relationship involve HR (or related talent role) and work quite well.

 

I've also worked directly with hiring managers that wasted weeks (months?) of my time.

 

 

 

 

I guess it really depends on who in HR you are dealing with and where they have been in his/her career.  It may look as though a lot of folks in HR are "lazy" or "slow", but there is much more behind the scenes that you as an agency recruiter don't see.  Other things they do like orientation, training, benefits analysis, employee benefit discussions, payroll/PTO, organizational management, employee reviews, employee performance plans, ect take a significant amount of time out of the day.  There are many HR folks that have little to know real-life sourcing experience.  I'm talking real sourcing not calling people that apply directly to the posted openings and rifle off a list of questions.  A lot of corporate HR have specialties in benefits/payroll and get thrown into the "recruiting" mix by default.  The difference with me is that I consider myself a recruiter and HR by default since I spent the first 6 years of my career on the agency/staffing firm side.

 

@Terence - I hate to admit it, but in terms of high-tech staffing, I have seen everything that you laid out so eloquently with HR =)  I would just hate to generalize all HR staffers as such since I'm now one of those corporate HR folk.  On the staffing firm side, we tend to get a bit excited when we A) have a quality opening and B) have a quality candidate for the role...we may tend to jump the gun on the hiring process.  If we ran into an opening, I would always ask the hiring manager if they have looked internally to fill the position or if they have done a local search on their own.  If they did not do that yet, I always gave them a week or so to figure out their process and true need.  My point: sometimes on the agency side we tend to get wound up over the position and tend to blame HR for the slowness...when in reality it's usually the hiring manager that is slow to give feedback or they truly don't have a hiring process setup (ie. expectations are different on both ends).

@Keith, I do agree the thread just came into my inbox after a situation with HR which has had me tearing my hair out !! It was a quick vent which I have to say has made me feel better !

I know no one's perfect least of all me and there are some great HR people out there who have made my life a lot easier as well as harder, and if I have offended anyone I wholeheartedly apologise !!

@Jerry, great point - It's probably more useful to identify people as "decision maker" or "facilitator" than by hiring manager or HR titles, as these positions can overlap depending on the situation.  quickly recognizing which role they fill can help formulate your strategy for developing relationships.

Hi Everyone,

 

Thanks so much for your feedback - some really interesting points about working w/ HR and where some of the disconnects occur.  I decided to compile your input into a blog post that you can view here, if you are interested:

 

http://www.sendouts.com/blog/recruiters-vs-hr-breaking-down-the-bar...

 

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