Influence hiring managers
May 9, 2019

6 Steps To Influence Your Hiring Managers

Ben Dowse
Ben Dowse Senior Recruiter

45% of recruiters say they are facing adversity filling positions. 72.8% of employers say they struggle to find skilled candidates. We could accept that there is a scarcity of candidates and continue in our usual manner to find unicorns. But, there is another way. If we can master the way to influence hiring managers to be more flexible, we can open up new sourcing angles. There is an upcoming predicted 30% increase in demand for qualified tech candidates in the next decade. This sounds like the perfect time to fine-tune our skills and find consistency when you want to influence your hiring manager.

As a Recruiter, we know being able to influence efficiently the hiring managers will improve our quality of hire, speed up the hiring process, improve our employer brand and ultimately lower our cost per hire. Do our hiring managers know this? As the only people in the world that are focused daily on talent acquisition, we need to be informal leaders that captivate hiring managers consistently. We must show our stakeholders what skills are available, how quickly we can get them and what we need to do (and change) to attract these candidates.

Fortunately, to influence hiring managers you just have to follow these simple 6 steps :

1) Always be prepared, use data and show them what you have done

Your hiring managers will most likely have a bias that will influence their opinion. Or they may recruit using their intuition. We know that hiring these ways will consequently result in neglecting potential superstars. Start going into your intake meetings with prepared data. Currently, we have more data than ever. Time to contradict these prejudices. This doesn’t have to be numerical. A video screen/interview recording could be a great way to confirm predispositions. 

Recently, I showed a hiring manager some LinkedIn insights into data science candidates. When considering her requirements, the size of the European talent pool was less than 200 candidates. Hiring one of these would have been a great challenge. Instead, we used this data to usher in a “plan B”. A wider talent pool and two extra sourcing angels. They quickly realized that compromising would improve our odds of success. Reporting on your hard work is also a major form of data to keep referring back to. 

Recruiting is arduous! Show your hiring managers that you have been on the frontline by referring back to what you have done in the last two weeks. 

Bad example: “I’ve had a good week, I feel I am getting closer to making a hire”. Good example: “I’ve contacted 150 people on LinkedIn, 40 by email and so far we have a reach-out to IV1 conversion of 4%, meaning we anticipate 8 first round interviews in 2 weeks.”

2) Do your best to get them face-to-face or on the phone! But, if you can’t, learn how to influence via instant chat  

Obviously, we all try to discuss things over the phone or in person. But, I have found that my hiring managers are diverting us more and more to instant messaging (on Slack and WhatsApp etc). So, let’s get good at it.

  • Think about the purpose of this message you are about to send. Can we find the answer a different way?
  • Don’t blurt everything out all at once, structure it properly and fine tune at the end.
  • Delete your repetition. Delete your repetition.
  • Recruiters should also ever need to nag (unless it’s a last resort). Associate yourself with humorous, enjoyable, concise & energetic written comms. You wouldn’t send a 1000 word message and nag your date for another trip to the cinema, would you? (I definitely used to 🙁 )
  • Deal with known objections upfront in the email. The reader will think you hide from the opposition if you don’t.
  • Provide evidence and data as per above where possible
  • Write everything in short sentences and as if you are summarising each line. Concision will bring influence, but I’m still definitely learning this one #longsentenceguru

3) Use Humour, relax and BLB (Be Like Barack)

Over the last couple of years, recruitment feels like it has become more informal, doesn’t it? Can serious people easily influence? I’m not so sure anymore – just take a look at British politics! On the flipside, how funny and relaxed was Barack Obama? He once said, “If I had to name my greatest strength, I guess it would be my humility. Greatest weakness, it’s possible that I’m a little too awesome”. Also, did you notice how he spoke in concise sentences with lots of pauses? It takes… A strong… Influential person… to be relaxed… and humorous… in times of stress. And, recruitment is stressful, right? 

Humour distracts people from being guarded and opens up the conversation. It’s so easy to have a constructive argument while you are both having fun too.

4) Give your hiring managers your undivided attention and get clarity

In a world of abundance with an increasing number of distractions, it’s crucial to stay focused. I once had a hiring manager who said I was the only recruiter she’d met that didn’t fidget and look preoccupied. It meant a lot to her (and me). I am now thinking of a time that I got out of my chair and went to get a Capri-Sun mid-meeting. Bad choice. Well, the Capri-Sun was the right choice. It’s so important to give them your undivided attention and truly listen before you try to persuade. Find a quiet spot, be ready, ask them what they are looking to gain from this meeting, and don’t put your phone on the table or check your watch. You can show you are listening with your eyes and we should always be nodding along, smiling, taking notes and repeating everything back to them to show you have understood. It’s simple but do we do it consistently?


5) Be an internal networking guru

Sometimes you have one point of contact, this sucks. You have limited knowledge of a department’s culture, and without the go-ahead from your stakeholders, you are stuck (and your speed of hire slows down). The best situation is that you have multiple strong relationships within a department. These stakeholders will soon start talking (positively) about you – when you aren’t even there! You are probably chilling, having a Capri-Sun, watching Obama Youtube videos while writing a blog, and your influence is rising. Start this process by talking to the hiring manager’s team and taking them for lunch or buying them a beer. Ask them about their thoughts and perspectives. Talk about the open vacancy, challenges and what biases they think exist. The more you do this, the more knowledge you will have which will impact your quality of hire, but the more that your name is mentioned. You will soon see your influence and reputation building. Make sure you are talking about business related topics, industry news and competitors, things outside of recruitment too. Demonstrating that you see the bigger picture and that you are commercially astute will help you win over your stakeholders.

6) Build an actual relationship

Above all else, be a nice person (I am sure you are). The best advice I ever had was to be someone that I’d like to work with. Think about your hiring managers interests outside of work. Do you know what they care about? Each time you meet, delve deeper into what your hiring managers identify with. You will soon see their eyes light up and you will build trust and find a connection that neither of you will forget anytime soon.

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