Who’s Who in the Hiring Process

The four key players who take part in hiring you.

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When you are hunting for a new job it is important to recognize that on the hiring side of the table you will find people with diverse roles and pressures upon them. Each has a valuable contribution to make to the process, but when you step back and fulfill their various needs you’ll do much to advance your own objective of getting that new position.

Hiring Managers
What they do: These key decision makers recognize a need to be filled, define the expectations for the person who will fill it and ultimately judge candidates based on who will best contribute to their own success as managers.

What you need to know: The underlying needs of the hiring manager may not be expressed at all on a job description. It’s only when you figure out what they are, and demonstrate how you can fulfill them better than anyone else that you will get the job offer.

Human Resource Staffing Professionals

What they do: Staffing is one of several specialty areas for human resources professionals. Companies with small HR departments may include these responsibilities as part of a more generalist role, while in larger companies this can be a sub-department of professionals devoted to this task solely. HR professionals partner with the hiring manager and are responsible for assuring that all relevant laws are followed and the process is sufficiently documented throughout.

They serve as the face of the company, working with external recruiters and candidates. These professionals manage the entire workflow of the hiring process including: writing and posting job descriptions, culling promising résumés, performing initial phone screenings and managing the whole interviewing process up to and including preparing and presenting a job offer.

What you need to know: They are most commonly judged by twin metrics: time-to-hire and cost-per-hire. It is likely that they are conducting searches for multiple positions simultaneously, and they are incentivized to make things go as quickly as possible despite the fact that job seekers frequently view them as roadblocks to work around. Because cost is always a factor, they will much prefer hiring someone who is referred by a current employee rather than paying the expensive fees recruiters charge. Hint: It is always good to network your way into a company to get noticed. When treated with respect for the integrity that they bring to the hiring process, HR professionals can be great allies both for hiring managers and job seekers.

External or Third-Party Contingency Recruiters

What they do: Search for candidates who most closely match the deliverables articulated by their corporate clients. Often they must compete against other companies who are simultaneously working on the same assignment, but they are only paid if and when a candidate they submit is hired.

What you need to know: Because their competition is fierce, recruiters have little time to waste on people who are irrelevant to their core search activities. They are about building relationships with people who can be useful to them now and in the future.

Recruiters are often unwilling to tell you whom they work for lest you do a foolish end-run around them to speak with the client directly. Companies tend not to like such disloyalty in a candidate. If you do try to cut a recruiter out from his own search and you are found out, you will likely be scratched from consideration for this position and any others that the recruiter or company may have in the future.

While you have a legitimate desire to control where your résumé goes, one of the trade-offs of working with a recruiter is that you might not know the name of their client until after your résumé is submitted.

Believe it or not, the fees a company pays to recruiters don’t come out of your salary. Just the opposite is true. Recruiters are in a position to know how much an employer really will be able to pay and will push toward the maximum. The higher your first-year salary, the greater an external recruiter’s commission will be.

Executive or Retained Recruiters
What they do: Typically these recruiters focus on executive level or board member searches. They are commissioned as the sole representative of their client company to find and assemble a panel of top-tier talent. Retained recruiters are expected to do serious vetting of candidates, including reference checks prior to submitting candidates.

They are more likely be viewed by their client companies as trusted advisors, while contingency recruiters are more likely perceived as hired guns.

What you need to know: Because they aren’t competing with other recruiters once they have landed the search, they typically will clearly state who their client is and try to sell the virtues of that client to talented individuals who typically are not perceived to be in the job market. Executive recruiters have a lot riding on the line because they are getting paid along the way and have greater pressure to complete difficult searches. Contingency recruiters are, by contrast, only willing to put so much time into a fruitless effort before abandoning it in favor of a more promising search for a different client.

Now that you know the pressures on each of the key players in the hiring process, give them whatever you can to make their lives easier. You’re sure to gain the favorable attention your background deserves.

Happy hunting!

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  • Arnie Fertig

    Arnie Fertig is the head coach of JOBHUNTERCOACH.COM, where he utilizes his extensive background in HR Staffing and as owner of a recruiting company to help midcareer job-hunters land their next job. Arnie provides one-to-one coaching services to individuals throughout the U.S. in all aspects of the job hunt, including: resume writing, personal branding, utilizing social media, enhancing networking skills, preparing for interviews, and negotiating compensation.

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