The eternal power struggle between recruiters and hiring managers has led organisations to approach the division of their labour differently. Is one strategy more effective than most? Talenytics CSO Flint investigates. 

Challenging assumptions

I always thought that the roles of hiring manager and recruiter were well defined. The hiring manager defines what she/he wants, then the recruiter finds suitable candidates. The recruiter screens candidates and sends a shortlist across with the brief. The hiring manager assesses this shortlist and then picks a winner. Hey presto, job done.

However, the more businesses I speak with, the more I’m realising that the relationship between hiring mangers and recruiters isn’t quite as simple as you might imagine. In fact, I’m frequently seeing some important differences in the way that this split works across organisations; differences that create alternative TA/business relationships.

The first extreme – minimalist

First is the minimalist approach where recruitment staff essentially read a brief, source candidates and present  back any that they think are strategyworthy of the hiring manager looking at more deeply, often with no initial assessment. Candidate submissions are long, and the percentage of these which are rejected is high. No analysis is done of whether the requirements are correct.

Essentially, the recruiter’s role is that of an order taker – they’re reactive to whatever demands come from the business. This approach fails to use the recruiter’s unique insight into the labour market, the business’ needs with regards to talent and global competencies, and the expected ease or difficulty of filling the role according to the specifications laid out by the hiring manager. 

The second extreme

At the other end of the spectrum is the fully-committed approach, where recruiters or talent acquisition professionals define the requirements based on previous experiences and successes or failures, and shortlisted candidates are fully assessed prior to submission. If involved at all in assessment and selection, the hiring managers are there only to validate the selection decision already taken by the recruiter or TA. The recruiter also runs the entire recruitment process and has full accountability for everything from offers made to the candidate experience.

As you may have guessed, this strategy places almost all of the responsibility on recruitment rather than hiring managers. It strips the hiring manager of any agency they may wish to have in the process, and fails to take into account the hiring manager’s insight on team fit, cultural considerations and soft skills gaps within an existing team. 

job splitFinding middle ground

If either of these scenarios sound familiar to you, you may be wondering what improvements you should start making – neither sound overly appealing to one side or another! But is either really right or wrong?

Personally, I can see the attractiveness of the minimal approach for organisations that don’t want to spend money on internal recruitment staff, and where the hiring managers want command of recruitment. However, I can also see the benefits of the fully committed approach for organisations that don’t believe their hiring managers are expert or committed enough to do a good recruitment job and understand the benefit of employing TA experts.

I suspect that, as in life, moderation is key. Ultimately, the best approach is a balance where accountability is shared between TA and hiring manger, and the right expertise is deployed at the right points in a recruitment process.

Find out the best strategic improvements your hiring team could make. 

Howard Flint

Howard Flint

Chief Strategy Officer

Howard has worked in the HR and Recruitment sphere for almost 20 years. He is dedicated to providing his advice and expertise to global HR leaders to help improve Quality of Hire.