If you don’t have time to tell me what you are looking for, I don’t have time to recruit for you

This isn't a rant and it's not intended to be a big complainy post about hiring managers. I've been fortunate to work with amazing hiring managers in my career; ones that have really been a highlight of my job (OK, mostly just at Microsoft). The few that are more difficult to work with just needed some guidance. One of the great things about working with marketing people is that if you can frame your recruiting challenge as a business issue, they get it. Most of the time. And many of them can sympathize with the rock finding mission.

The man: Find me a rock

Me: Can you tell me what kind of rock you would like me to find?

The man: No, just bring me some rocks and I'll tell you when I see it

Me: Is this the rock? What about this rock? This rock? OK, this rock thing isn't working for me.

Does this sound familiar? No matter what position you are in, chances are you have gone on a rock finding expedition. It's frustrating. And the rock rarely ever feels like the right one in the end anyway.

Hiring managers are busy people. We get that. But if hiring managers don't have time to write job specs (not just a job description, but actual specs), then how do they have time to interview? Or onboard? And isn't hiring one of THE most important things we do?

This is actually part of the reason why I enjoy pipeline recruiting so much; you find the candidate first and then look for the position to match. It flips the process, makes hiring managers compete for talent (nicely, of course), and it focuses the attention on the candidate versus the position. The position is important, but my passion lies with the candidate experience.

But most recruiters serve a particular business...with hiring managers...with or without job specs. In the best case scenario, they have a manager that is supportive of them firing an uncommitted client. In the worst case, they are on a rock finding expedition. Best case: they are equipped to advise the hiring manager on candidate profiles they should be looking for to fill in skill gaps on their team, advise on the availability of talent in the marketplace. Worst case: they are an order taker (and sometimes, that's fine).

Since we are upstream in the candidate generation process, we see recruiters struggling with this. If the recruiters can't get the specs from the hiring manager, my team can't help them.

I remember back to my line recruiting days, when I advised hiring managers that I was going to close down their search if they didn't have time to work with me on complete job specs. What I was really thinking was "You don't have time for recruiting on your req? Me neither."


Comments (6)

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  1. tod hilton says:

    I couldn’t agree more. When one of my groups was looking to hire a new SDE and SDET I volunteered to take the responsibility from my manager (the hiring mgr) when I saw that he didn’t have the time. I had a vested interest in who we hired as they would be my peers and directly affect the quality of our team’s work.

    I spent several hours putting together job specs AND a description. Probably days combing through resumes, working with our recruiter and phone screens.

    It wasn’t what I really wanted to do, but in the end it was worth it as we hired a great person who will do well.

  2. Kevin says:

    Ugh. Sounds like the client who wants a design but doesn’t know what they like until they see it…wastes so much time (especially on websites).

    I never considered a requirements document for a person…too bad you can’t create a wireframe of a potential hire!

  3. average-sized tim says:

    I suspect that the hiring manager you’re dealing with is just clueless as to what the requirements are. He is probably not qualified for his job. How can you not enjoy irony.

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    tod – you are one of the good guys

    Kevin – what’s a wireframe?

    average-sized tim – the real irony is that I am not dealing with any hiring managers at all! It’s our recruiting business partners that are. So they want to work with my team to find candidates for open positions but they can’t because THEIR hiring managers don’t have documentation. It’s not a rampant issue but there’s enough of it that I feel sorry for the recruiters that have to fill their open positions.

    Incidentally, I don’t think the hiring managers are clueless regarding the requirements. They just don’t take the time to document and discuss with their recruiters. More of an issue of prioritization than cluelessness. My team has the benefit of being able to push back on the work but the recruiters may or may not.

  5. Darren Cox says:

    Ok, here comes another rant:  as anyone who has been reading this blog for a while knows, my biggest weakness is that I don’t know when to hit the "submit" button.

    First, I have had this exact problem bite me in the butt recently, but from a little different perspective…I was recruited by a contract recruiting firm for a job that didn’t actually exist because the recruiting firm had to write the requirements doc. because the hiring manager absolutely refused to make time to do it despite insisting that the job was very important and needed to be filled ASAP.

    I was interviewed a total of four times before the actual hiring manager ever saw my (or anyone else’s) resume three weeks later, at which time she decided that the resume’s she received didn’t correlate, in any way, with the job that she had available, so they pulled the job.  

    That was a month ago…I got an email from the first guy at the contract recruiting firm today asking if I would be interested in applying for a job with the same company, for a different position title but …wait for it… It is the identical job description…word-for-word.

    I called the recruiter and asked why they jerked me around for a month only to ask me if they could do it some more.  He, of course, made up some lame lie and told me he’d get to the bottom of it.

    Stupid people and stupid companies (United Health Group – if you are wondering…Damn, now I suppose that bridge is burned…oh well) shouldn’t be allowed to screw with people without compensating them.  Hire me, THEN mess up my life.

    So ends "part one" of my rant

    Part two has to do with the title of this blog post and my assumption that a recruiter was finally asking folks to tell them what they really want out of a job when they apply.  I, of course, read on and found out that it turns out that there is still nobody interested in what I would like to do for them.

    I know this is a whole lot of wishful thinking, but I would, just once, like a recruiter at a big company (like Microsoft for instance) to ask me what I want to be when I grow up… then actually help me get there.

    Most people agree that the best employees and most productive contributors to any organization are those who are doing what they love;  I know it is extremely weird to seriously LOVE to talk about stuff like software functionality, but I honestly do.  But not only the features and benefits from a micro-perspective, but how some kinds of software can change the world and help contribute to solving big world problems in the same way micro-loans do.

    So, with that said, here is my requirements document.  This is what I expect from the next company that wants to hire me and this is what I want to do when I grow up. (so if I’m 37 now, when exactly will that be?)

    First; everyone MUST have an MBA…Wait… different blog topic)

    ok (Semi-)seriously:

    Ultimately, I aspire to hold the title of "Chief Evangelist." I have heard the job called everything from Director of Propaganda to VP of Marketing but I prefer the Chief Evangelist title. The CE is the person counted upon to bring people together around ideas; internal stakeholders, vendors, strategic partners, potential customers or anyone else…you’re all invited.  

    The Chief Evangelist’s role is to communicate, rally, and build affinity groups within the organization, even if they wouldn’t normally work together, and to keep them focused on "Why we are doing this." as well as lending a voice and operations expertise in the "what do we need to do to make this a success?" discussion.  The CE is a leading voice in driving the company’s broad message to its partners and potential partners and he keeps all external groups focused on the broad goals THEY have created while supporting the bottom line.  

    The Chief Evangelist is not a mouthpiece for the CEO he is an amplifier of great ideas no matter where they come from AND he should be a primary tool in bringing those ideas to fruition.

    I require:

    Stability – I have been through the wars with Start-ups and small companies.  I have been successful and have always exceeded expectations, but I am ready to work in an environment where there is a greater opportunity to engage in creative problem solving and/or generate new and innovative approaches to problems.  

    Opportunity:  To engage with, and learn from, larger groups of people with a broader focus than I have been able to do while working with and consulting for smaller companies.  A company large enough to provide more expansive and frequent opportunities to increase my personal development and allow me to interact frequently with others who share my passion for what we do.  

    Creativity – A workplace where people acknowledge and encourage creativity, competence and the ability to improvise; An organization that enables the implementation of innovative solutions in the creation of more efficiently functioning systems.

    So, now that I have that out of my system I can go eat some of that not-so-healthy crap that Heather won’t touch…from one of those places she won’t frequent.

  6. Kevin says:

    a wireframe is just a skeleton of the site design, very much like a the pencil drawing before the painting, to show architecture, drop downs, etc…

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