To truly support the hiring manager and impact the business, recruiters should meet with hiring managers to discuss the real need for the business.
When a hiring manager reaches out to a corporate recruiter to initiate a new search, next steps usually look something like this:
- The hiring manager emails a list of bullet points to a recruiter. This might include job title, salary range, required years of experiences, desired skills, and a list of technical capabilities.
- The recruiter receives the list and drafts a new job in the corporate ATS, and then cuts and pastes in the “about us” text to use as the first paragraph, adds a few job requirements and responsibilities, publishes the job opening, and shares it out on the major job boards.
- Within a few hours, the newly opened job is pushed out to Indeed, Monster, Glassdoor - and any number of smaller, niche job boards.
- Applications start to come in, often on the same day. Within a week, the recruiter might have hundreds of new applicant profiles to review.
- The recruiter begins to screen in or disqualify the new applicants and also works to build up a list of potential candidates of their own.
- At some point - usually after some level of screening and acceptance - the hiring manager receives a short list of top candidates and the interview process begins.
Consider the (rather simplistic) scenario above. In many in-house departments, it’s the sole responsibility of the recruiter to attract, identify, screen and present candidates. Frequently, there is only an implicit suggestion that the recruiter should only present the candidates they believe can perform the job at a high level to support the department to reach their goals. But how are they to know what “high level” means? And with only a few bullet points to work from, is that enough intel for them to make smart decisions?
If a recruiter is going to work strategically, as a true partner to the hiring manager - to support current and future needs, and capabilities within the company - they need to learn how to ask the right questions early in the process. Recruiters need to proactively seek out and meet with hiring managers to discuss the business reason for the job.
Here's a short list of questions every recruiter should ask their hiring manager before they start the search:
- Why is this job necessary right now?
- What are the business reasons for the job?
- What are all the required skills needed to succeed in this role?
- What are the activities they will be responsible for on a daily/weekly basis?
- What are the primary responsibilities and accountabilities associated with the role?
- What does successfully working at a high level look like in this role?
- What does success in this role look like over 1-24 months?
- What is the expected career path?
Obviously, this is not a comprehensive list - but as you will see below, intelligence gathered from even this short list above will leas to much better insights than working from a set of bullet points. Better questions almost always leads to better intel, and better intel will usually lead to better searches and more successful outcomes.
Now, let's assume the recruiter had some answers to the questions above before initiating the search for a data analyst.
By asking a few extra questions, the recruiter might now realize that what the hiring manager really needs is someone with enough proven experience, a higher-than-average Emotional Quotient (EQ), and the ability to work in a team environment without explicit direction.
The recruiter might still be looking for people with expertise in SQL and experience in Tableau, Looker, or similar data visualization tools - but with additional insights, they might also tailor our search to focus on people who are able to take initiative, bring sound judgment and great communication skills, and can work with limited supervision.
When a recruiter asks the hiring manager about the activities the ideal candidate will be responsible for on a daily/weekly basis, they might uncover a need for someone who can not only run, review, and digest data – but also make recommendations based on existing reports. The recruiter might learn that the hiring manager not only needs more ways to look at data, but they also need someone to present data and start looking for new ways for the company to interact with data for clients.
When a recruiter asks the hiring manager what success looks like over 1-24 months, the hiring manager might explain their thoughts about how the role might grow into a larger role. The recruiter might discover what they really need is someone who can take ownership, expand the role, add tons of value and eventually hire and manage a talented team of analysts of their own. This might lead the recruiter to search for a different kind of data analyst.
What else can a recruiter learn by asking what success looks like in this role over 1-24 months? A lot actually. They might learn that on Day One the analyst needs to be able to interpret and make recommendations based on data – but that within six months, the analyst should be able to go beyond what the traditional analyst would deliver. The recruiter might learn that when the hiring manager assigns projects, the successful candidate will need to be able to take full ownership and help improve the design of the final solution - not simply complete the work as assigned. This might lead the recruiter to search and screen for people who have held prior roles with full, and proven, authority and ownership.
With new insights, the recruiter might also search for someone who is able to ask the right questions, improve the way the department solves problems, improve how the department uses data to tell stories, share information, support clients and the team. The recruiter might also learn the hiring manager also needs someone who is able to begin to take over larger projects, complete them, and even find things the hiring manager can’t see or find.
This might lead the recruiter to narrow the search for someone who can add tremendous value and grow in their abilities to cover gaps in knowledge, skills, etc.
By asking the right questions about the hiring manager’s real expectations, the recruiter might learn something extra about team performance. They might learn that the hiring manager expects the candidate, within 24 months, to add enough value to warrant additional analysts. This new information might narrow the field. Now the recruiter might be looking for someone who will be able to put in place processes for growth and then serve as a hiring manager, potentially adding a few more analysts to their own team.
By asking about career path the recruiter might learn that the hiring manager is looking for someone who can go beyond, take a more active role, and not just share and interpret data. Maybe what they’re really looking for is someone who can take their own findings to the next level. The recruiter might learn that after only a few months (3-6), the hiring manager wants their new data analyst to be able to take work off the hiring managers’ plate - or that within 12+ months, 90% of what this person will be doing should be related to forging a new role.
This new intel might lead the recruiter to search for someone who, at least initially, will be following direction, but then over time, will be required to stretch and add responsibility and accountability to help build up the data analytics team, or even lead the team.
As you can see, bullet points will only take the recruiter so far and can often lead to a mismatch between the role and candidate. Without the right questions, and the extra level of communication between the hiring manager and recruiter, the right candidate might too easily become the wrong one.
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