Recruiting in the Dark

Ridiculous but true: We fill 87% of our jobs when we are working directly with hiring managers. We fill 18% when we work with HR managers.

I am not going to bash HR people. They are in an impossible position.

We recruit for web analytics and search marketing positions all day, every day. HR recruits for everything. When the same person that is hiring for accountants, admins and mail room supervisors starts working on a web analytics position the distinctions between technical, analytical and marketing-oriented skills get lost in a haze of buzzwords and keywords.


The goal is to find the best talent in the marketplace to perform the tasks that you NEED done and as many of the tasks that you WANT done as possible.

This requires an ongoing conversation.

We compare the qualifications from the whiteboard with real people working in the community and that kicks-off the conversation. “Here is what we are finding in the market… Let’s review what the real priorities are… Let’s discuss the most favorable compromises… If somebody is a stronger in one area but weaker in another is that still okay??”

These are conversations that don’t happen with HR. They focus on keywords, buzzwords and checklists of qualifications… They send resumes along to the hiring manager until the hiring manager hits on one. The reasons for hitting on one or passing on another rarely surface. Zero feedback is the accepted norm. “Send more resumes.” No information… No conversation… No evolution.

If we get any feedback it is usually a few sentences copied and pasted from the hiring manager’s email. No context, no follow up questions.

Everyone stays in the dark until chunks of time pass. When the hiring manager screams, HR’s solution is usually to get more resumes… more recruiting firms… different recruiting firms…

Everyone is damaged from this approach: We strain relationships with our candidates; the client hurts their brand in the community; the department doesn’t get their work done; good candidates get passed over; HR is slammed by everyone.

The best model that we have seen so far is the one that flows this way:
1. The hiring manager selects and engages the search firm.
2. The hiring manager works directly with the search firm to refine the qualifications and selects the best candidates to interview.
3. HR manages the scheduling and logistics of the interview process. They manage the offer process and the on-boarding process.

Companies that recruit this way have a huge strategic advantage in securing the best talent for web analytics and search marketing positions. Isn’t that the whole point?? What are the tools and the strategy worth if you don’t have good people executing??

Companies can not and should not do ALL of their recruiting this way. HR is brilliant for general recruiting. They are great at running ads, searching resumes on or LinkedIn, screening candidates and managing the whole process.

Think about this: If you’re going to pay a search firm to fill highly specialized roles, you may as well get the benefit of their expertise. You may as well get the best talent in the marketplace. You may as well get them as quickly as possible… The greatest ROI is not on the fee – it is on the hiring manager’s time investment.


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