The HR Generalist: Friend or Foe to Agency Recruiters?

As a recruiter, your job is to make quality placements as quickly as possible. It’s how you make your clients happy, reach your goals and get paid. Anything that disrupts or delays making a placement is a barrier that must be overcome. An HR generalist wanting to screen candidates or be a liaison between you and the hiring manager can certainly be viewed as such.

In fact, many recruiting firms train their staff on how to circumvent HR professionals and get in direct contact with the hiring manager. While it’s true direct contact with the hiring manager will improve your ability to make successful placements, strategizing ways to cut HR professionals out of the process is a mistake. Not only does it create friction between your firm and the HR department, you miss the opportunity to gain valuable insight into the company and hiring process from another perspective.

While an HR generalists’ involvement in the hiring process may slow it down and even interfere with your ability to communicate directly with the hiring manager, you’re ultimately on the same team. Each of you bring unique skills and expertise to the process and you both want what’s best for the company. Therefore, trying to sidestep them until you need them to draft an offer letter or run a background check is not a smart strategy.

Recognize that HR generalists have insight into management and the organization that you can’t get from the hiring manager and leverage it to help you select better candidates. Conversely, explain your value to them. HR generalists are not experts in the art of marketing and communicating with quality candidates, helping them navigate the hiring process and selling them on the job.

Winning over HR generalists and leveraging them to help you make quick, successful placements starts with understanding and respecting their role and responsibility to the company and successfully explaining your value. To build that mutual trust and respect with HR generalists, we recommend the following:

  1. Establish communication among you, the HR generalist and the hiring manager at the beginning of the recruiting process. Using recruitment management software can help you seamlessly collaborate with both parties, as well as your candidates throughout the process and ensure the HR generalist is kept up to date on all activity.
  2. Clarify the goals and responsibilities of each party. Tension between hiring managers and recruiters occurs when one perceives the other to be “stepping on their toes.” Having a conversation or when appropriate a written record, such as a service level agreement, outlining each person’s role can prevent miscommunication and unexpected delays.
  3. Ask the HR generalist about the candidate approval and hiring process and how you can help make it smooth and easy for them and the candidate. The hiring manager may not know all the details of HR’s approval and hiring process, which are important to communicate with your candidate to ensure a positive experience.
  4. Discuss company culture and characteristics of successful employees. The HR generalist will be able to give you a broader perspective than the hiring manager and could help you choose candidates that have a greater chance for long-term success within the organization.
  5. When you do make a successful placement, give all the credit to the HR generalist. Tell your hiring manager and/or client how helpful they were throughout the process and let them enjoy the success. HR generalists often deal with negative situations, they will appreciate being part of something positive.

When HR generalists are involved in the recruiting process, remember that you’re on the same team. Consider them a friend rather than a foe and leverage their expertise and skills to improve your success.

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