It's a partnership

Recruiters and hiring managers must work together to reduce hiring cycle time. The key to a beneficial relationship is regular, productive communication.
Posted September 1, 1999

Carl Kutsmode

I am a firm believer that successful staffing is the result of a partnership between the recruiting department and the hiring managers. For the last 10+ years, technical recruiting has been my life. I've worked hiring every position from junior help desk associates to senior computer hardware developers with PhD's in engineering. Most of my recruiting challenges have centered less on finding good candidates and more on getting them through the system fast enough.

Lessons learned about IT recruiting
Clear, detailed job specifications will move the process along.
Review presented candidates within 24 to 48 hours.
The "100% perfect candidate" isn't always a necessity.
The key to reduce hiring cycle time is regular, productive communication. This should start even before a requisition is issued. Hiring managers should invite the recruiter to a session to learn about the department's objectives and where the growth may be for the year, and to understand what that may mean for staffing.

Some of my experiences show where cycle-time delays typically occur and how they can easily be shortened--or removed altogether.

Be specific and available

One manager told me he was in urgent need of an experienced Oracle developer and he was sending over a requisition. A week and a half later I received it. The requisition basically said: "I need someone with three- to five-years experience with Oracle 7.x, PL/SQL, Developer 2000, and HP UNIX script knowledge"--nothing more, nothing less.

While on the surface this seems like specific information, in actuality there are lots of gaps. Since my favorite psychic was on vacation that day, I resorted to a guessing game: "Did he want someone with more functional or technical experience? Would the person be working primarily on the back end or the front end? Should the candidate have experience with conversions? What is the highest priority skill that they would need?"

After two weeks spent trying to track the manager down, I had all but given up. Then I pinned him down--almost literally--in the cafeteria for a brief conversation. He was very apologetic, and we had a great discussion about exactly what he was looking for in the ideal candidate.

Following this chat I thought back about the whole situation to assess ways in which this almost three-week delay could have been eliminated. Upon the initial telephone call, the hiring manager and the recruiter should make it a priority to have a 15-minute discussion, even if it means having a quick breakfast early the next morning. If this had happened I would have had several candidates lined up for him within that three-week emergency window. Instead, I was three weeks behind.

Quick turnaround works both ways

Another manager was looking for as many network engineers as we could possibly find for him. He gave me the information I needed and asked that I get on it right away as this project was a top priority. The manager called me twice a day, every day, for four days in a row looking for his candidates. I was glad that he was communicating with me, but he wasn't giving me time to find the candidates.

Within seven days of receiving the requisition, I presented him with four qualified candidates. He was excited to receive the resumes, but then it became a "hurry up and wait" situation. After not hearing from him for two days, I called and sent e-mails requesting his review of the candidates. No response. When I finally reached him four days later, he casually said, "Oh, yeah, the network engineer resumes, I forgot about those. I will look at them over the weekend and get back to you." In the meantime, we lost two of the four candidates to the competition, and the hiring manager got angry with me because he said I gave him candidates that were unavailable.

Quick turnaround is essential to effective hiring. It takes just a few minutes to review the resumes and screening notes of qualified candidates.

100% isn't always best

One hiring manager wouldn't settle for less than the 100% perfect candidate. Once, he interviewed at least 10 people for a software test position and rejected them all because they didn't have the perfect combination of test experience. At least four of them were far above average and great candidates. Ultimately, eight weeks went by before he hired a tester, the project got behind, and caused a whole new set of stresses.

In a perfect world, without deadlines and budgets, we can find the perfect candidate… eventually. In reality, it is as important to probe for the capacity to learn and grow as it is to look for specific skills when reviewing candidates. Smart people learn fast. If a candidate has 75% to 85% of the desired skills and all of the required skills, hire him or her. //

Carl Kutsmode is president of Tiburon Group Inc. (, a strategic Internet recruiting solutions consulting firm in Chicago that helps corporations achieve maximum results from their available recruiting resources. Kutsmode has over 10 year's experience in technology recruiting, HR management, and recruiter training. He has been aggressively using the Internet since 1991 as a key component of his overall recruiting strategies to help many Fortune 1000 companies achieve high-volume staffing goals.

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