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Take Charge, Hiring Managers

I've written a lot about hiring. Hiring the right people is one of the most important things a leader can do in business. (Closely related: firing the wrong people and coaching people.) Yet, when I speak with corporate recruiters I discover that many (most?) hiring managers outsource this task.

This post isn't written to denigrate recruiters, many of whom provide great amounts of value. However, as a hiring manager you get a lot out of doing your own hiring.

  • Understand the market yourself, directly, and see what talent is and is not available
  • Rapidly understand how your job descriptions are perceived so you can improve them
  • Meet your candidates at the beginning of the process, get to know them better, and start from a strong spot
  • Gain a competitive advantage against other managers who don't do the hard work here

It is not a thrill to sort through résumés. It is not easy or fun to troll through LinkedIn looking for people. Recruiters, as a general function, are better sourcing tasks, than someone who doesn't do it all day long.

Yet, once you have a possible candidate identified, I believe hiring managers should be very engaged. You should:

  • talk to the candidate for their first screening
  • meet them in person when they come
  • discuss their career prospects and goals
  • negotiate their salary and role

This last one, especially, is something many hiring managers don't want to do, and something that human resources functions like to do. I can't speak for other functions, but in managers and, specifically, in product managers, ability to negotiate is part of what I am looking for in a skillset. For me, that final discussion is key. I have learned many times in the negotiation process that an employee is going to be difficult or a bad fit.

Let's dig in there a bit: I expect people to negotiate their salary. I don't object or get offended when they ask for something more. I want people to be confident when they join they got the right deal for them, and not be wondering what they left on the table.

That said, you can ruin a negotiation pretty fast. Some things not to do:

  • Ask for something, then ask for something else, repeat and drag it out
  • Fail to understand when your expectations do not match the market (do your research)
  • Fail to look at the entire compensation package (salary, bonus, stock, perks)
  • Insist on negotiating standards (unless you are an exec, getting more PTO, etc. is probably not a thing)

When I start negotiating with someone who shows they aren't as well organized and reasonable as I thought, it's easy to drive the conversation off without even rescinding the offer: I just start saying "no" to the demands.

Which brings me back to my main point. If you let your recruiter do this; you miss the whole thing. I want to learn a lot about my candidates first, so I know whether or not I think there is a good match and case for hiring them; and, second, to understand who they are and where they are starting so I can get them off and running when they do start.

Recruiting is the first step in building a great team. You have to go out and sell people on your company, vision, team, and yourself. Then, you have to understand their motivations and skills, how to fit them in the team, and at which projects they will excel. Finally, you have to coach them to be their best (another blog topic I am sure).

So go out there and get hiring.

Photo by Samuel Zeller/Unsplash