Use These 6 Principles to Build a Strong Recruiter-Hiring Manager Relationship

In a recent presentation to a room full of recruiters and HR practitioners, I asked jokingly, “Who here has dealt with a hiring manager who wants the Queen of England to manage the marketing department for $60K a year?” I got a roar of laughs and 300 hands in the air. This is not an uncommon scenario to anyone who’s been in the industry long enough!  

Recruiters recruit and hiring managers hire it’s as simple as it is complex. As recruiters, we scout, source, advertise, sell, screen, assess and build the best strategy to get to the best person. Hiring managers are responsible for the final decision of whether that person will join the team.  

Robert Cialdini is a world-renowned psychologist and best-selling author of “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion.” In this work, he notes that influence is based on six key principles:

  • Reciprocity
  • Commitment and consistency
  • Social proof
  • Liking
  • Authority
  • Scarcity

Leveraging the power of influence, we recruiters can set expectations for hiring managers and use our expertise to find the best person for the job. Let’s look at how each principle can help you build a better recruiter-hiring manager relationship.

Principle #1: Reciprocity

Reciprocity is the idea that if I provide something of value to you, you’ll want to provide something of value to me.

While bringing chocolates to your hiring manager may not hurt, as a recruiter, you can offer so much more: the gift of work and knowledge. So before your intake meeting, print out the information of a candidate who might be good for the role.

Sure, the hiring manager may have given you a list of requirements, but use this opportunity to explain the differences between mere description and a great job advertisement.  

Come prepared with examples, then rework their description to reflect their voice based on your experience with the team. In return, your goal is to get feedback:  This will help you determine what the hiring manager is looking for while allowing them to get a better understanding of your recruitment approach.

Principle #2: Commitment and Consistency

People are naturally compelled to follow through on their written commitments. Have your hiring managers email you the top three most important requirements for the person you’re recruiting via email.

This gets them to commit to their needs while also giving you insights. Finally, make your own realistic commitments about the hiring process and consistently follow up on those promises to build your trust with hiring managers over time. Always be transparent it goes a long way.

Principle #3: Social Proof  

How many times have you felt compelled to do something because everyone you know is doing it? That’s the power of social proof, the theory that we are prone to adopting the actions and beliefs of people we like or trust.

So instead of telling hiring managers what your take on the job market is, show them examples of what others are doing. Share ads for the same position from competitors or for similar jobs in different markets. Show them where these jobs are being advertised and set the expectation that they need to invest time, and possibly money, into their search.  

Principle #4: Liking

This one’s easy be nice. People are influenced by people they like. Get to know the hiring manager beyond the task at hand.

I once worked with a CEO who, I found out, was an avid outdoorsman. One of the candidates I recruited was a semiprofessional mountain biker. While this had nothing to do with the role, I added it to his write-up, providing a great way for the two of them to immediately connect. It was a win-win all around. When you know hiring managers on a personal level, you’ll learn the types of people they might work well with and find points of connection for potential candidates.  

Principle #5: Authority

People listen to people who are in charge. To build authority with hiring managers, you need to showcase your ownership over the recruitment strategy for the role.

Do your research so you can ask insightful questions. There’s a minimum exchange of information that must happen in every intake process (i.e., salary and time frame). Go beyond that with questions like,  “Who’s been in the role before? What were their strengths and weaknesses? What was their background before starting the position?”  

Principle #6: Scarcity

Especially in today’s tight market, great candidates are a hot commodity. To set the right expectations, share a snapshot of the current market with the hiring manager to prove they will need to act fast and be flexible with those interested.

When sending over potential candidates, build a sense of urgency, emphasizing applicants’ skills and timelines. Present hard numbers that show the market reality, leveraging candidate and competitive data; your current applicant tracking system (ATS); job boards such as Indeed; and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data.

As an expert in recruiting, you can provide the best strategy and influence the hiring manager to align finding the right person for the right job and strengthening your relationship with your hiring manager.

A 15+-year recruiting industry vet, Lisa Barrow is the owner of Kada Recruiting, a recruiting firm focused on building successful digital marketing and creative teams. Prior to founding Kada, Lisa spent nine years as the Director of Client Adoption at Monster, where she traveled the country evangelizing recruitment best practices.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Indeed.

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