4 Important Lessons Every Hiring Manager Needs to Learn


Every once in a while, I put a question out to my awesome network on LinkedIn, and get such great responses, that I ask the editorial team at LinkedIn to consider putting the responses out on the Talent Blog. They published some of those great insights below.

If you want to see the original post, check it out here and read some more great responses.
John Vlastelica, CEO, Recruiting Toolbox


4 Important Lessons Every Hiring Manager Needs to Learn

Anyone in the thick of the hiring process will tell you that waiting, in the words of Tom Petty, is the hardest part. The pathways between candidate screening and signed offer letter are often long and windy, strewn with hurdles that can stretch days into weeks into months

This slow roll to filling roles can be a thorn in the side of hiring managers too. 

“I think a lot of us needed to lose a candidate because we were slow to make a decision,” says John Vlastelica, founder of Recruiting Toolbox and a frequent Talent Blog contributor. In a recent LinkedIn post, he conjured the image of a grimacing Ron Burgundy, the fictional anchorman played by Will Ferrell. The caption reads: “When that great candidate informs you they have already accepted another offer.” 

For anyone working in talent acquisition, having a top prospect slip through your fingers can feel, as one commenter put it, “like a punch in the gut.”

But gut punches can be incredibly effective teachers. John says that losing a candidate to glacial hiring practices taught his team to “engage and respond and communicate and set up a basic process for getting feedback from our interviewers to make a decision faster.”

It’s just one of the lessons that hiring managers have to learn on the job. In his post, John solicits others from the LinkedIn community. Here are four important lessons every hiring manager should learn. (Visit the comments on John’s LinkedIn post for a host of other ideas.)

1. Stop chasing pedigree 

“Avoid fixating on candidates from shiny brands and fancy colleges,” says hiring veteran Chetta Crowley. Often they fall short of expectations, she warns. Instead, Chetta suggests embracing undiscovered talent — what she calls “happy accidents.” 

Rather than falling in love with a candidate’s bio, she recommends clearly defining your hiring standards and measuring job seekers against that. 

“Remember, you’re dealing with living, breathing candidates,” she says. Chetta believes hiring managers should take into consideration everything from qualifications to background to whether or not the person is genuinely excited about the job. “Don’t waste time,” she says, “chasing imaginary ideal candidates.”

Indeed, the concept of the “ideal candidate” has been reexamined recently, leading to a rise in skills-based hiring. “A degree is no guarantor of success,” says talent strategist Sarah Fell. She thinks managers should be attracted to candidates who continue their education while on the job. “Success depends on the slope,” Chetta says, “not the candidate’s starting point.”

2. Never hire on the cheap

You get what you pay for — it’s an age-old adage and one that many business leaders ignore, especially during a downturn in the job market.

Daren Mongello, a talent advisor in New York City, shared a cautionary tale in which a manager hired a team of engineers at a cut rate, only to struggle later when the market rebounded. “He realized significant raises to catch up to market rates would be nearly impossible,” Daren says. 

The results were catastrophic. Glaring pay disparities between new hires and current employees breeded discontent, roles remained unfilled, and eventually the manager was dismissed.

Lowballing candidates during a rocky labor market may be a tempting way to cut costs, but in the long run it almost never pays off, often leading to employee dissatisfaction, poor performance, and high turnover rates.

A similar lesson hiring managers should learn: Be practical about the talent they can afford. Senior recruitment consultant Cheryle Elder perhaps sums this up best: “You can’t afford a Porsche on a VW budget.”

3. Let the competition inspire you

Talent acquisition isn’t always a level playing field. No matter how solid your pipeline is or how many college fairs you’ve posted up at over the years, there’s always someone with deeper pockets and bigger promises waiting to snatch up your dream candidate. 

No one knows this better than Ron S. Williams, a global TA consultant and lecturer who speaks on such topics as career transitions and military hiring. His advice for getting a leg up on the competition: See what they do and let it inspire you. 

He shared a story about a time when he took a group of business leaders to a career fair for engineers. When the team arrived, they were astonished by how fierce the competition for talent was. Upon their return, the recruitment budget was immediately increased and a strategy was put in place. 

The takeaway: It’s a lot easier to get buy-in from leadership once they see up close how the game is played. 

“You have to pay to play!” Ron says. “It was a great lesson for the whole organization.”

4. Maximize your time — all of it

“I would love for hiring managers to understand that recruiting is a team sport,” says Jennifer Anker Kaufman, head of global talent acquisition for Wiz, a cloud security firm. Even during hiring lulls, she says, there’s plenty that a recruiter could, and should, be doing to add value to the team. 

For Jennifer, the winning lesson is that you don’t have to wait for there to be a job opening before you start networking. “Build your personal brand, take those coffee chats, stay in touch with people you meet who’ve impressed you,” she advises. “This way, when a job does open, you already have a network of candidates to pull from instead of starting from scratch,” dramatically decreasing your time to fill. 

In fact, time management was a recurring lesson on John’s thread: how to speed it up, how to slow it down, and how not to squander it.

Adrian Holtham, a senior recruiter at Atlassian, says that one of the biggest and most common time guzzlers is when hiring managers chase unicorn candidates. Doing this, he says, often takes longer than hiring and onboarding someone with comparable skills who’s more likely to be motivated by the job.

How does he communicate this lesson to managers? By getting others in the organization to share their success stories. “Peer persuasion can be useful here,” Adrian says. Highlighting the tension between job requirements and speed to hire lets managers know that “they have something to lose from wanting too much.”

Jennifer’s words bear repeating: Recruiting is a team sport.

For more lessons for hiring managers, read John’s post and explore the comments.