Why Talent Acquisition teams should empower their Hiring Managers in taking action.
I’ve been working in Recruitment for a long time, and let me tell you something, the process of hiring software engineers has not always been an easy task. I mean, we all know how all Hiring Managers expect no less than seniors and superstars.
So, the question has always been how to increase conversion when candidates were going through the tech interview stage — which essentially means: how do I source a ‘good candidate’ who might be a good cultural fit with the company, who shares the same corporate values and, who on top is experienced enough to be a Senior Engineer? My goodness, only the act of evaluating every single value took me over an hour — not to mention the accurate review of their tech skills.
The importance of trust.
Going back to the question around how to improve tech candidate conversion rate, we found out that obviously, one of the key actions was to have that first interview with the Hiring Manager — aka Project Lead, Tech lead, Lead Engineer, whatever you want to call them — to discuss with them how fit a proposed candidate might or might not be.
And yes, going through the expectations of the role with the Hiring Manager and evaluating their thoughts about candidates proved to be an incredibly useful step to fully understand the needs. Most importantly, not only did it help me but also helped the entire team. We all started following the same practice on a regular basis. We were all pretty happy, my manager, our stakeholders, we were all rocking it!
Why though? We are just talking about conducting interviews with a hiring manager! That should not be such a big deal, right?
Well, It may sound like an ordinary thing, but what was great about actively involving managers during the hiring process was that it helped us better empathize with what they were looking for and helped us build stronger relationships. They suddenly trusted us! And that’s what we want, don’t we? A hiring manager who trusts their tech recruiter.
But a piece of the puzzle was missing.
Wait, remember I still wanted to increase the conversion rate of the “Tech interview stage”?
Internal alignment on needs was certainly necessary, but we were still left with a slight bittersweet aftertaste. It was a reactive approach. And we needed more candidates, we needed to increase the funnel, and to move candidates from the interview stage (first) to the tech interview (second).
The new approach was: ‘Hi, Hiring Manager, we need you not just to ask us to cover your open roles, since we are all responsible for accomplishing the annual hiring plan, we also need you to source with us, to send emails, to have the very first call with your candidates, to actively approach them.’
So this is how we eventually shifted expectations, and believe me, I found my ideal way of working, and I would like all tech teams to understand how important it is.
The reason we landed this new strategy was based on the belief that a tech leader plays a key role in attracting candidates to their own team and to the company. I am convinced that candidates feel more confident and trusting when the person who contacts them speaks their own language. Seems simple, yet it wasn’t that easy. Alignment didn’t just happen overnight.
How do I convince my Hiring Manager into becoming an active player?
One thing you need to do is to make sure that you are aligned with your primary team, that hiring does not only depend on you, but on the company, and as a huge team that message needs to be set on everybody’s minds. Then conversations will be easier.
In my experience this alignment could be achieved by taking little steps, one at a time: scheduling a 30’ meeting to review the requirements and go ‘oh, let’s take a look at some profiles to double-check if I understood well what you need’, repeatedly. Asking them to share some profiles they think might be good fits, and asking them every week to take some time to approach at least some of those candidates to help us improve the conversion rate.
Little by little, it was part of our weekly routine until it became an actual habit.
A mindset shift.
I truly believe the entire company is responsible for hiring and attracting talent. A close collaboration between Talent Acquisition and Engineering Managers can be the key to success and probably the best thing that could happen to your hiring process.
Teach your Hiring Managers how to source, equip them with the skills to make the best use of all those different tools when sourcing (forget LinkedIn if needed), empower them to know how to handle that first call, what to say, how to effectively sell the company, what to offer, how to adapt to different candidates.
Embrace the relationship with them. But be realistic. Don’t expect them to dedicate even 40% of their time to these tasks since they obviously have many other priorities on their plate. Continuous mentoring without pressure is key.
A Talent Acquisition team is not made up of recruiters & sourcers, it is the whole company, it’s you and your Hiring Managers.
Building high performing teams is not only down to recruiters, every single team member has the power to add value, to create great teams and a better place to work!