Does the company you work with have an HR (Human Resources) department, or at least one or more HR generalists? When it comes to hiring, many managers find HR the OPPOSITE of HELPFUL!
I recently talked with a QA (Quality Assurance) manager of a fast growing Internet startup who described HR’s inability to contribute to a recent search: “The resumes went to HR and she forwarded them to us – she really wasn’t up for screening the resumes herself. At one point we sat down with HR and explained what we were looking for, but it never really got to the point where HR could do any screening.”
Managers, who are trying to fill highly technical or professional positions with specific skill sets and experience requirements, initially have high expectations regarding the quality of HR’s searching and screening capabilities. But more often than not, they end up disappointed:
“Our HR department didn’t help me focus my search, instead they just helped bomb my job out to a larger audience. That was my attitude the first time. Then I did it and realized that all these people do is create more work for me. I had to follow their process. But they didn’t understand IT hiring. They understood the concept of hiring and what the person needed to do on their first day, the fact they needed to run a background check; but they couldn’t help me in the candidate selection part.”
~ Manager of an IT department of 70 people for a global logistics company.
“HR people don’t really understand what I’m looking for – can’t tell the difference between someone with a background as an analyst for a hedge fund or a financial planner.”
~ VP of Sales for a the investigative financial services division of a global business processing outsourcing (BPO) firm.
The Problem is with Expectations
Deborah Woodcock, Senior Director of Marketing at Sage, an international business software company, explains how she uses the recruiters in Sage’s HR department:
“The recruiters we have are good. They have absorbed a good amount of info about the positions we have at our firm. If it isn’t a very experienced recruiter, I’ll explain what a day in the life of someone in that position looks like. It’s my responsibility to really drill down into the resumes. I’m expecting the resumes from the recruiters to be 75-80% vetted, not 95%. Usually I’m looking to get 10 to 20 resumes, then I’ll do some additional due diligence, and weed out half, so I’ll be left with 5 to 10 resumes.”
Here are 3 ways you can use HR more effectively the next time you need to fill a position:
- Know/assess your HR department and recruiters: Talk with them about their experience, the business, and your needs. Assess the degree to which they’ll be able to help you in the search and screening portions of your hiring process. Also, talk with other hiring managers in your company to find out how they’ve been able to use HR.
- Define the degree to which HR will be able to vet resumes: After talking with HR, you may estimate that they’ll be able to do half the due diligence up front – weeding out candidates lacking certain education or employment requirements on their resume. Then if you want to get 20 good resumes to drill down into, you’ll probably want to get 40 to 50 resumes from HR.
- Be patient, it’s an iterative process: If the first batch of resumes from HR is a bit off, then talk with them about why certain resumes are good and why others are off target. Their second and third batches will be more on point.
Perhaps, you have only a few HR generalists who are swamped. Or, you conclude your HR department really can’t contribute much to your search and screenings. HR can still be a valuable resource for you when it comes to compliance issues, ideas for phone screening and interview questions, templates for job descriptions and requirements, and in negotiating the starting salary and making the offer.
John Geffel explained HR’s significance for him when he was a senior VP of marketing for a global software business, “Our HR generalist became a critical resource for me – more of a confidant actually – someone who I could talk with about both HR and general management issues.”
How do you use your company’s HR department during your hiring process? Has HR been helpful or the opposite of helpful when you’re looking to hire people?