December 19, 2018 | Written by: Tim Wagstaff
Categorized: Talent Acquisition
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Hiring manager engagement is critical to transforming talent acquisition. Occasionally, a new vacancy comes to the attention of the perfect candidate at the very moment he or she is looking for their next career move. But such instances of the stars being in perfect alignment are exceptionally rare. In no sense can we sit back and let fate dictate our hiring strategy.
Competition for expertise and the scarcity of available candidates with new skills in life sciences are major concerns to TA leaders in the industry. So, how can we ensure serendipity leans our way more often than not? We need to ensure the deck is stacked in our favor, and hiring manager engagement is one of the strongest cards we have to play.
The greatest influence
In my 13 years of life sciences recruitment, hiring manager engagement has been the most consistent factor in influencing the outcome of hiring projects above all others. The input of a hiring manager at the outset and through the hiring project affects two key factors: the quality of candidate interactions and prompt decision-making.
These two factors have significant sway over candidate engagement for clear reasons. If hiring manager and candidate engagement are both high, then the opportunity to bring them together is improved. For all the importance of employer brand, career opportunity and remuneration influencing candidates, ultimately people are inspired by, and join with, other people. But for this to happen they need to meet.
Getting hiring managers engaged
While many hiring managers understand this intuitively, this is not always the case. More than once I have received an email from a hiring manager the day before he or she goes on holiday asking for a short list on their return, with nothing more than a brief and dry job description attached. While we always do our best with such a request, I am never optimistic about that first update meeting on their return.
Too many organizations pay lip service to TA, hiring inexperienced recruiters, who even with the best of intentions are ill equipped to truly partner with their hiring managers. As a result, too many hiring managers have had poor interactions with recruiters, either as a manager or candidate, which clouds their view.
So how can TA and HR leaders ensure hiring manager engagement? There needs to be a cultural understanding within an organization that TA is a function that requires interaction from its customers—the hiring managers—for shared success. (Merck is a good example of a company transforming talent acquisition with hiring manager satisfaction in mind.) Of course, you cannot easily create culture from the bottom up, so this has to come from senior leadership, who can bang the initial drum.
Elevate the TA voice
How you then take that forward depends on your organization. It could mean that hiring managers prioritize recruitment kick-off and update calls and give them their full attention, but you could easily take this further. For instance, if a team is doing a lot of recruiting or is recruiting for a key position, why not invite the TA partner to your weekly team meeting, or team social, to really get a sense of the team’s purpose and character?
Embedding TA into the core of the organization can quickly overcome the hiring manager’s concerns borne of those previous poor experiences. These closer interactions can lead to organizational understanding that experienced TA professionals are experts in their field and not just the administrators of the ATS.
For every life sciences organization that believes that talent is an important asset to their business, TA needs to have a voice at the highest possible table within that organization. Only with buy-in from senior management will you have a culture where all managers give TA the engagement it requires, to give the hiring managers the results they need.