March 26, 2021

Is Recruiting an HR Function or Business Function?

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HR isn’t recruiting. Recruiting isn’t HR. And pretty much everyone in those fields would agree.

So why does recruiting report into HR in most organizations? With the growing specificity in talent demands and expectations in outcomes, wouldn’t talent acquisition goals be better served if they were reporting into the business units?

Jeff Smith and James Hornick will be discussing this in this episode. 

Episode Transcript

The 10 minute talent rant is live. I’m James Hornick, I’m joined as always by Jeff Smith and we are on the clock. The 10 minute talent rant is our ongoing series, where we break down things that are broken in the talent acquisition, hiring space, and maybe even pitch a solution or two. Jeff, this week’s topic: is recruiting and HR function or a business?

Well, strategically speaking, I mean the integration of recruiters and recruiting and the day-to-day operations of the business is vital now. So however your means of getting there happens, that’s the end goal. So maybe the conversation isn’t so much like which silo it goes to, as opposed to like what the strategy is to get there.

Yeah, I think that the reason why I want to talk about this topic is we harp, and I think one of the biggest conversations in this entire space is candidate experience. How companies can do a better job of branding themselves, treating candidates better, all these types of things. We talk about this constantly.

This is one of the most broken things about that process is so many companies have a broad disconnect between the recruiters and the actual teams doing the hiring. Now, I don’t want to paint too broad of a stroke with everybody. There’s companies of different sizes, companies of different structures, companies of different industries. So you can’t, there’s no one size fits all approach to this. But there’s a lot of organizations where the recruiter is maybe barely ever see the team. They might be in a different location. They might get notified there’s an opening for an ATS system and they’re asked us to work on it without any real interaction.

So if you’re a candidate out there, what this lot of times it looks like when this has done poorly is, you talk to a recruiter internally who may not really know what the role is about. Then you talk to a team and find something else differently. It’s just a massive disconnect that I think has just gotten worse over time.

So really the question is how do you fix that gap? Because I think that any HR person will admit that recruiting is a different competency. Pretty much any recruiter will say that they’re not an HR person. Yet there are still some synergies there that make sense. I don’t know. Yeah, no, you hit on a couple of great points.

I think the first thing that you mentioned, like let’s use software engineers as an example, the notoriously difficult search for both recruiters and engineers. I think it’s frustrating on both sides. Recruiters aren’t inherently technical, but it doesn’t mean that the integration into the business isn’t going to be fortuitous.

You don’t have to know the tech stack in and out and syntax and all of these different intricacies of the language to understand what the product is and what the vision of the company and the business unit is to develop. That’s just as important to these people. And if a recruiter’s just getting a job spec via to your point, an applicant tracking system or their internal CRM, or have absolutely zero interaction with that day-to-day business unit, how can they possibly describe what it’s like to live and breathe in that unit day-to-day to a candidate?

It’s number one. Number two, I think that from a spatial perspective, we’ve talked a lot about if recruiting sits in HR, HR, you just said HR and recruiters, from a competency perspective, don’t mesh. Why would you put sourcing, interviewing, and strategy lumped in with compensation, benefits, total rewards, employment relations, like that’s a lot for one person to handle.

Let alone the confidentiality of having recruiters like us, pace around all day talking to candidates in a more quiet space that HR traditionally is. Sit them next to the business units. Let them absorb what’s going on day to day. I look at it- that’s a great point. And I look at it too from the standpoint of, I talked a lot recently about how recruiting metrics are very old school and kind of broken, right.

And there has been a whole lot of innovation in that space. And I think what an interesting topic would be is if you optimize or you plan your recruitment metrics around the business success. So part of how recruiting success is actually measured is did the business benefit from it was with these hiring plans? Because when you do that, when you take it away from the old school metrics of just a generation of how many candidates you talk to and getting people in process and what you’re time to fill is, and put it more from the standpoint of like, okay, how did the business end of do of it? You fundamentally have a rethink of how recruiters have to go about their job. I think makes a lot more sense.

It’ll be more intellectually challenging, but you know, first off they have to better understand the business outcome. You know what I mean? It’s not just finding like keywords. You have to actually understand, okay, what are we trying to accomplish here? What are the people that will help us do that, not do that?

And then it’s a better way that they’re instantly getting a better level setting with candidates. They’re going to have to be better at their job in terms of actually getting, and it’s not a realistic thing you can do if it’s always just a straight guideline connection or if they’re just seated far away, you know what I mean?

In order to realistically be fair to the recruiter, you have to have them pretty well integrated. That’s why, I don’t know that there needs to be – and I will not say there needs to be a divorce between kind of the recruitment and the HR functions, but I think there has to be a closer marriage, no matter what and more progressive organizations between the recruiters and the business side.

Anyway. I think when you posted this, there was a quick dialogue with our friend Asfa and she brought up a great point that I thought was important. I don’t think either of us are espousing to what you just said, that this gets somehow ripped out of the sphere of influence of HR.

What recruiters are at their core is the glue between not only HR and business, but really a lot of different places in the organization. They get to interact and talk with everyone and so why not harness that skill? Again, this gets into, under recruiting for actual recruiters, like not getting folks who are experienced and haven’t had a breadth of visibility to larger business strategies, et cetera, et cetera.

Like a lot of people in recruiting seats just aren’t ready for the types of interactions that they’re going to have to get to actually provide value to get those business outcomes. Yeah. I think that’s a great point. I think that recruiters, they have two challenges and the reason why companies come to organizations like us it’s twofold. One, because their recruiters are generalists and they need specialist and we have a team that specializes in things.

But also we just have more, because of that we have more direct contact with- our teams here talk to marketing people all day, right. In certain sized organizations, they might be big enough for it to truly pull that off. But I think even still, just the more kind of direct contact they can have the closer they are to being a little more self-sufficient in some areas.

But anyway. You brought up a good point and I don’t want to miss it cause I don’t want to forget it. All comes back to the onus is on everybody to work together on a great job description too so that even when the recruiter does a great job, if I did a great job on a rubbish job description, it doesn’t affect the business outcome in any way, shape or form.

And that all comes back to like the role of the recruiter to integrate seamlessly into the business. All right. We just got two and a half minutes left here my friend. Let’s talk about solutions. So what are your recommendations? Listen, if you have recruiting kind of siloed in HR and listen, you’re not alone.

I’m speaking to kind of the population at large. Loosen the purse strings a little bit, give them a little bit more freedom. And by them, I mean the recruiters to absorb a little bit more of that business expertise. Let them do and participate in operational one-on-ones and finance one-on-ones.

I mean, all of that cross-functional knowledge is really, really key for recruiters to tell the story to candidates, like that’s the main goal? Like what are we selling to the candidate and how does that candidate experience feel? So if there’s one main takeaway from this is it doesn’t matter necessarily where it sits, so long as they have the ability and are afforded the opportunity to integrate more seamlessly with those units. I would say two things. One, when COVID ends, when you’re redoing your office space, when you’re redoing your fuller plans, when you’re trying to figure out where you’re going to put people, put your recruiters beside the business people.

I think inherently when they’re right there, when they’re beside them all day, when they’re beside the people that are supporting, you have to end that environment where hiring managers make requirement, give it to recruiters, never talk to again. Make that impossible to happen. Make it so they’re literally in their face and they absorb everything.

And secondly, you know, nothing’s one size fits all like we said a million times. I do think that if you’re a business owner this is just something you need to think about. Don’t default to hire an HR person, have that HR person figure out recruiting. Think more strategically about whatever’s going to make the most sense for you to make whatever you need to happen structurally, where things a little better integrated. And it’s simple as that, like I wish there was a one size fits all takeaway I could give for this, but there’s so many different types of organizations that it’s just not possible. But I think that it is something that the true owners of the organization need to think more about.

Absolutely. Anyways, we’re getting short on clock. So that’s a wrap for this week. Thanks for tuning into the 10 minute talent rant which will always be available for replay on the Hirewell YouTube channel as well as the talent insights podcast on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify and YouTube.

Jeff, thanks again for joining. Everyone else, I will see you soon.

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