But, alas, not all hiring managers are great. And getting hiring managers to think of recruiting as something that’s NOT outside of their day job, but – instead – a core part of their role, isn’t easy.

  • So, how do recruiting leaders engage hiring managers across organizations with a ton of competing priorities?
  • What do they do to leverage them as attractors of top talent – especially passive talent?

At Talent Connect this year, I pulled together a panel of great recruiting leaders (Erin Scruggs from eBay, Sandeep Sood from Microsoft, and Bryce Hanson from Amazon) and each of them shared how they leverage hiring managers.

Here are 3 of the sourcing-related ideas shared by these leaders who have found ways to extend their recruiting reach:

1. Stop asking “Who do you know that’s great?” and start telling them “Here’s who you know that’s great.”

Stop with the passive “post and pray” approach to referrals.

It’s become almost trivially easy for a recruiter to see who a hiring manager is (or should be) connected to via LinkedIn. Take a look at those connection and then as you identify the candidate targets you can pre-write InMails for the hiring managers to send. eBay found hiring manager outbound InMails got a response rate of 40% rate vs. a 12% rate for similar messages from recruiters. Use data like that to help hiring managers engage talent directly.

2. Build and deliver hiring manager sourcing lunch and learns (workshops).

Lunch and learns are a great way to educate the hiring managers where many of your best hires have come from (referrals and networking). Encourage hiring managers with current openings to attend (free pizza helps) and learn how to better find and compete for top talent by doing a few relatively simple things, including:

  • how to tweet out their jobs (you should leverage bit.ly to shorten job urls and track clicks),
  • how to improve their LinkedIn profiles and connect with the right talent online (show great internal profiles and competitor profiles to compare to their own),
  • how to engage in user groups/forums (show real world examples of how NOT to do it, too), and
  • how to evangelize the work their team does in LinkedIn Groups (partner with them to write acronym-free overviews that position their work so that it speaks directly to their target candidate motivators).

Microsoft found some of their engineers and hiring managers were intrigued by more than just social recruiting…they got excited by Boolean search, and were keen to leverage pre-built search strings via search alerts and RSS feeds (based on keywords they identified), resulting in an inbox full of potential leads for hard-to-find tech roles.

3. Get managers engaged in recruiting events. 

No, I’m not talking about job fairs. I’m talking about meet-ups (check out meetup.com, eventbrite.com, and lanyard.com to search by functional area or technology area to find relevant events).

You can attend a meet-up, or host your own. These are not interviewing events…these are opportunities for you to get your managers networking and describing the work (challenges, impact).  You should lead a prep meeting for managers to teach them how to network (opening phrases, questions to ask to engage people, how to talk about projects and work without selling a job, how to talk about next steps) AND just as importantly, set their expectations that 90+% of the people who attend these meet-ups will not be active job seekers with resumes in hand.

Amazon found success taking a “no slides” approach at a diversity event. Their leaders were there to talk about the work and answer questions about what it was like to work there. Being open, accessible, real-world, and positive helps them attract the kind of talent that will thrive in their culture.

eBay found event success by partnering with a tech exec to create “tech talks.”  The recruiting team identified their wish-list of passive candidates, and got their tech exec to personally send out a (pre-written) invite to drive targeted attendance to an eBay hosted event with speakers from the vendor community.

But my hiring managers won’t do any of this!

Many of us have hiring managers that just won’t engage. I’ve been there. They say they’re too busy, or they see this work as “recruiting’s job” and resent being asked to help. First, let me say, some hiring managers will never be converted into good talent partners. And some will be passive-aggressive nightmares. (That’s why we make the big bucks, people!)  Second, many – MANY – will actually step up and do more to attract and recruit great talent if we

1) make it easy for them to step up (pre-written content helps),

2) lead (sell the WIIFM (what’s in it for me?)), and

3) leverage the two key things that drive hiring manager behavior.




If hiring managers aren’t in “recruiting pain”, they likely won’t prioritize recruitment very high, and won’t likely invest a lot of time in sourcing or events/outreach. So, you should focus your energy on those who are in pain, and then leverage the heck out of those success stories you’ll get with those hiring managers to convert others into high-ownership “recruiting leaders.”

Additionally, leverage metrics to drive behavior changes. Show funnel ratios, candidate feedback, offer to hire close rates, lost offers to competitors, and decline reasons to your VPs. And if you’re really gutsy, put all of your VPs’ or Directors’ hiring metrics on the same report, and tap into some natural competitiveness and create a little peer pressure. It works (I did this when I was a recruiting leader at Amazon years ago). Not for everyone, or every time, but for many leaders, they will begin to see the causal relationship that exists between their hiring manager’s engagement and the speed and quality of hires they get. “When we do X, we get better talent”.

What works at your company?

These are just a few of the 20+ ideas we highlighted at Talent Connect. Entire books could be written on how to engage hiring managers, and I’m sure many of you have great ideas to share.

What works at your company?  How have you leveraged managers to source better talent?  Please share with me on twitter at @vlastelica.

* Photo by Noelas