Hiring Managers: How to Build a Strategic Partnership with Your Recruiter

By Chapple

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5 Tips for Building a Strategic Partnership with your Recruiter

We all know that business performance is largely attributable to the success of its leadership team, organisational culture and employees. Which is why it’s no surprise that one of the biggest challenges for HR and in-house recruiters is finding the right people to join their company.

Sourcing and hiring the very best people is a time consuming business, so it’s no wonder that many recruiters turn to agencies for a more efficient and effective search. In order to get the most out of your recruitment agency, it is imperative to build a strategic relationship with them from the outset. But what does this look like?

In our experience, going beyond a job description by understanding an employer’s brand and knowing what makes their existing top-performers tick, are just a few ways that we’re able to further understand our client’s needs and represent their brand accurately. Below we’ve shared some insights into the ways in which an effective and strategic partnership can be formed between you and your recruiter.

Tip #1: Survey your top performers and discuss the insights with your recruiter.

Whilst diversity is an important aspect to embed within your recruiting process, you may have noticed a pattern already among your most impressive employees. This could include employees that have come from the same former industry or employer, or a particular skill that you initially didn’t think would be significant to their position, or even an unexpected personality trait they seem to share.

Ask your top performers questions that will uncover how those similarities matter to your business. What motivated them in their previous role? How did they learn on the job? What outside skills or experience do they feel has enabled them to be successful in their position? Some answers may surprise you, and this can lead to a few rude awakenings if the answers you keep hearing reveal something your company doesn’t provide (e.g. a mentorship programme, quarterly trips to industry conferences, an engaging internal communications team), but those are the most useful kinds of answers to hear if one of your priorities is to make effective changes to your business and talent strategy.

The most effective method(s) for gathering this information will vary depending on your company’s size and structure. If you work for a large-scale business with multiple departments, then consider utilising a survey distribution programme that will allow you to streamline, distribute, and collect data from the surveys you create.

If you work for a small business and your team is relatively small, then gathering this information through one-on-one conversations rather than formal surveys can deepen your engagement with superstar employees while creating an environment that encourages the employee to be honest and candid with you. Ask about their motivations, aspirations, interests outside of work, how they view their role in the greater picture of the company (a perspective shared by many top performers across various industries) and their experiences in the position.

There’s no need to fret if the information you gather doesn’t seem to offer much insight at first glance. That’s what your recruitment partner’s for. They will be able to look at the information in context of recruitment and make the appropriate adjustments to their approach and strategy.

For one of our clients, this survey revealed that although the position they were hiring for was a non-managerial role, the employees who consistently excelled in that role across the company had experience being accountable for someone else’s work. With that newfound insight, we began looking for that type of experience in candidates’ backgrounds and asked them more about it as we spoke. We wanted to know why that connection existed. As it turns out, those individuals took pride in having an impact on their communities—whether they were professional or personal. The indicators we saw to support this included volunteering for community-based programs, coaching sports teams, founding clubs during their time at University, etc. We worked it into our phone screens for that position and that allowed us to pinpoint an indicator of excellence in that position from the first conversation.

Tip #2: Teach—don’t brief—the provider on your business.

Make good use of the time spent at the very start of the recruitment process for a position by teaching the recruiter elements of your business that they wouldn’t have known or appreciated from your marketing.

More often than not, the recruiter will have already researched your industry, marketing, website, competitors, etc. by the time you discuss the positions you need to fill. This call is the time to talk about your business’s core objectives and collaborate on the talent strategy that will best support those goals.

By the end of this call, the recruiter should know what drives the short and long term strategy as well as goals. Some topics to include in this conversation are your company’s culture (what would a ‘culture fit’ in your organisation be?), current hiring challenges, and the roles that the person you are looking to hire will play within the departmental and corporate plans.

Whilst some of the job requirements may seem obvious to you such as ‘agency experience required’ or ‘based in Madrid’; these are important requirements that should be shared with your recruiter in order for them to refine their search and save time in the recruiting process.

Tip #3: Share your passion.

Don’t underestimate the value that sharing your personal perspective of the company can bring to a recruiter. Telling them what you admire about the company will help the recruiter ‘sell’ the job to prospective candidates.

A memorable example of this is a call we once had with a young, growing company looking to hire an internal communications team. During the call, their passion was not only obvious; it was contagious. The owners had no reservations about telling us what gets them excited about their business and what their employees like about their jobs. It allowed us to understand their vision on a deeper level than if we had read it in an email or on their website. From that experience, we recruited a team that could channel the same energy and mindset through their work.

This point is important when hiring for communications and PR roles especially because the best people in those positions tend to be the ones that are madly in love with the business. If your recruitment provider can’t understand why someone would feel that way, then it’ll be difficult to effectively recruit or screen for the people who do.

Tip #4: Create a scheduled feedback and communication process.

Establish with your recruiter when and how you will provide initial feedback on candidates. It’s also useful to provide your recruiter with the reasons why you have decided to pass on candidates, whether this be due to ‘distance’ or ‘poor communication skills’. This not only allows a recruiter to keep candidates engaged, providing them with updates of where they are in the process, but also reflects well on your employer brand. Agreeing interview slots with your recruiter in advance is also a good way to save time and prevent communication issues.

So that you can provide more detailed feedback, schedule a review call with your recruiter. This will reduce the time you spend sending emails while setting the stage for a more meaningful discussion about the candidates they have submitted for the position, as well as any other items you’d like to discuss.  

Create an agenda for these calls so that everyone involved knows what to prepare for beforehand.  Be sure to arrange for another member of your hiring team to step in if you are unable to make it that week. If these meetings are pushed back or skipped, then the benefits of having them can slip away.

Tip #5: Plan ahead and start building your talent pipeline.

Working ahead of your leadership-team recruitment needs will afford your recruiter the time to broaden their search for both active and passive candidates. We often see companies recruiting reactively; their top employee has left and they need to fill the position fast! Whilst it makes sense to recruit when the need arises, it is restricted to what talent is available at that time. When you’re recruiting for a leadership position, you could find yourself recruiting someone that’s not right for your culture out of desperation.

Succession planning is a process which helps mitigate the risk of leaving a leadership position open and unfilled for a long-period of time. Working ahead like this is already a strategy prevalent in most successful companies - they will have a pipeline of top talent ready to fill available roles.

Working with your recruiter ahead of the need provides your company with the flexibility to respond quickly to company growth and market changes.

What other elements do you consider to be important in building a strategic relationship with a recruiter?


At Chapple we specialize in sourcing candidates in external and internal communications, employee engagement, change and business transformation roles.

Contact us on 020 7734 8209 for more information about how we can help you find the right people for your business.

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