<img src="https://ws.zoominfo.com/pixel/u3ChUsspeEfBtkeKfQY5" width="1" height="1" style="display: none;">
Workforce Planning | 7 minute read

3 Ways to Improve the Recruiter-Hiring Manager Relationship

June 22, 2018

The relationship between hiring manager and recruiter is essential to maintaining an effective, efficient recruitment process – unquestionably impacting your employment brand and ability to not only hire but retain the best people. In fact, organizations that enhance hiring manager satisfaction are three times more likely to reduce time-to-hire and three times more likely to improve quality of hire. The onus is on both parties.

In brief, recruitment is about the personal relationship. On one hand, this “relationship” is between recruiter and candidate. Equally so, however, it’s about how the hiring manager and recruiter listen, learn from and help lead one other. As recruiters and hiring managers, the decisions we make not only matter to the very state of your business but to the careers and personal lives of many people.

To ensure you make the right decisions, we (all parties) need to be proactive in developing, nurturing and cementing the recruiter-hiring manager relationship. Let the following lay the groundwork.

1. At All Costs, Develop Rapport. 
One way to define “rapport” is a mutual understanding, a bond with empathy, a close relationship. The recruiter-hiring manager relationship is symbiotic; without one, there’s no other. Unfortunately, recruiters and hiring managers too often feel like they’re working against each other. This needs to stop! This relationship is a partnership, and both sides need to approach with “learning” in mind. We have a common goal: to hire the best person/people for the company while providing an exceptional candidate experience. 

According to iCIMS’ Hire Expectations Institute, 61 percent of hiring managers believe recruiters have, at best, a “low to moderate” understanding of the jobs they recruit for. This statistic falls on the shoulders of both sides. As recruiters and hiring managers, we need to understand the value each role plays in making sure the recruiter is able to develop and submit a top-quality slate of candidates to the hiring manager. Set aside time, do the necessary research, and find ways to build rapport. Your candidates depend on it.

2. You’ve Heard it Before: Communication is Key.
Like all kinds of business partnerships and personal relationships, communication needs to be regular, honest and authentic, and timely. Set weekly calls, develop daily check-ins and check points. Hiring leaders need to provide updates to the business on open headcount and other similar components; to adeptly do so, they need to understand the resources available. Recruiters need to keep their candidates engaged and updated, and they need to know when to press play or pause on a search. It’s a two-way street. 

Take Netflix for an example. Netflix reimagined the recruiter-hiring manager relationship and feels a significant part of their talent acquisition success is due to the following:

Netflix recruiter Chrissy Running notes that “the relationship between recruiter and hiring manager here, I think, is one of a kind.” Hiring manager Chris Saint-Amant agrees: “what’s really unique about the culture around recruiting at Netflix is the collaboration between the hiring manager and the recruiting team,” he says.


“When there’s that mindset that hiring is top priority, you really value the partnership that you have with your recruiters,” says Chrissy. “I think recruiting at other companies can be very tactical or operational, and what I love here is that it’s very consultative and strategic.”

Rather than a removed, mechanical effort where recruiters follow prescribed processes—”sitting behind a desk and sending [hiring managers] resumes,” as Chrissy puts it—the two truly work together every step of the way. “When there’s more to the relationship than just tactical logistics going back and forth, it adds more value,” she says. This sort of relationship is way more dynamic, energizing both recruiters and hiring managers.

Taking it one step further, there are three elements that make Netflix’s hiring manager-recruiting relationship culture unique:

  • Freedom: Hiring managers have freedom and ownership over hiring decisions
  • Candor: Recruiters and hiring managers communicate directly and honestly
  • Empathy: Both parties genuinely care about each other’s success

As recruiters, it’s our responsibility to ask questions and be proactive throughout the recruitment process – communicating things such as candidate concerns, available talent and market intel. For hiring managers, it’s integral you keep recruiters fully abreast of expectations, changes to hiring demands and role needs, and what makes the company unique. However the two parties can ensure open lines of communication, we must.

3. Set the Right, Realistic Expectations. 

In a perfect world, both sides learn from and lean on each other. Having been involved in the recruitment of and talent acquisition strategy around Tech, Design, Sales and Marketing, among other sectors, for more than six years, I can confidently say nobody is a true expert; we always have room to learn. There is always a manager who is new to hiring or a recruiter supporting a role that’s never come across their desk. Mutual support is vital, and this extends to setting the right expectations.

There’s nothing worse than being “ghosted”. In recruitment, it’s unfortunately quite common to feel this way. Recruiters complain of unresponsive hiring managers; hiring managers often feel like they don’t get the updates they need from their recruiters. Toward this end, it’s vital during the initial stages of partnership to openly talk through (see No. 2 above) the recruitment process in a way that leads to fair expectations. But moving one step further, these expectations need to be clear to all parties – whether through service level agreements, key performance indicators, or another avenue. And both sides need to be accountable to the other.

The world of recruitment and talent acquisition moves incredibly fast. And 2018 is here. As you set sail on a new year, make certain you’re not dismissing one of the most important components to hiring the right people: the recruiter and hiring manager relationship.


About WilsonHCG

WilsonHCG is an award-winning, global leader in total talent solutions. Operating as a strategic partner, it helps some of the world’s most admired brands build comprehensive talent functions. With a global presence spanning more than 65 countries and six continents, WilsonHCG provides a full suite of configurable talent services including recruitment process outsourcing (RPO), executive search, contingent talent solutions and talent consulting. TALENT.™ It’s more than a solution, it’s who we are.