Human Capital Management

Who Should Reach Out to Candidates?

Factors to consider in deciding who makes contact

By Minda Zetlin

Winter 2019

Posting a job on a job board or a company’s website is no longer a good enough way to bring in top talent. You need to reach out to the people you want to hire and get them excited about working for your company. But who’s the best person to make that first contact: an HR professional or a manager the new hire will actually work for? Experts disagree on the right answer.

“This has to be a top leadership initiative, not HR,” says consultant Linda Henman. “There’s no reason for that person to take a recruiter’s call, but they might take your call.”

Jeff Haynes, director of human capital consulting services at Baker Tilly, has a slightly different take. “You want to get the functional subject matter expert or hiring manager involved as soon as you can, but for most large organizations, these individuals are busy adding value to the business and are typically the second step in the recruiting process,” he says. Haynes adds that professional recruiters and headhunters are the most effective “smilers and dialers” with the time and skills required to be adept at getting strangers to consider a new job and moving them to the next step with a functional expert. It’s likely that a working subject matter expert won’t have the time or skills to cold-call candidates.

And when it comes to attending conferences and casually making contact with possible hires, that’s the work of a future manager or colleague, says Paul Wallenberg, senior manager of technology recruiting at LaSalle Network. “When you’re looking for harder-to-find skill sets, my opinion is that a manager or colleague within that team is best. Who should be at a career fair? A talent acquisition professional can handle that just fine.”

Keep in mind that whatever job candidates know about their potential manager will likely be the deciding factor in accepting or declining a job. “People don’t leave companies; they leave bosses,” Henman says. “And they don’t go to work for companies; they go to work for bosses.”

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