I used to think that the relationships between recruiters and engineering managers were simple. In my mind, the recruiter’s job was to find people who could be right for the job and the hiring manager’s job was to select the best one out of the group. But when I became a recruiter, I realized it’s a much more complicated partnership. Both sides have knowledge and experience to bring to the table—and everyone involved has strong opinions on how the technical hiring process should work. While building and maintaining relationships with hiring managers can be difficult at times, there are a few things you can do to ensure that your efforts yield results.
You might be thinking, “Developers understand how difficult it is to hire developers, so what’s the point of doing this?” That may be true, but it doesn’t negate the importance of getting everyone on the same page before you start searching for candidates. Even if you plan on replicating the steps from a previous search that yielded a hire, it would be unwise to kick things off without ensuring that the hiring manager is comfortable with your timeframe.
You might discover that the engineering team is getting ready to ship a mission-critical product and can’t commit to the interview schedule you’re anticipating. The hiring manager might have some insights on the types of developers you’re looking for that makes you rethink your entire plan. There are plenty of things you might uncover during this initial meeting, which makes it a crucial part of any developer hiring strategy.
The best tech recruiters could spend an unreasonable number of hours trying to understand the roles they’re hiring for and still have knowledge gaps. After all, they were brought aboard to recruit, not to write code. The engineering managers I’ve spoken to are incredibly open to answering questions about how they hire, but if you’re not so fortunate, it might be time for a heart-to-heart with the person you’re working with.
If you’re having trouble getting the information you need, be transparent with the hiring manager about your current situation. Explain that you want to do your best to find the person who can take their engineering team to the next level, but that you could also use their help to wrap your mind around what the ideal candidate looks like on paper. This will show them that you’re not out to assign blame, but are motivated by your shared tech hiring goals.
You might expect a ton of feedback from hiring managers on how they felt the hiring process is working, but you might not always get it. When it comes to hiring developers, you could take this as a sign that no news is good news. But be bold and ask them for their thoughts. You might discover that you should be reviewing resumes differently or that your candidate experience could use some tweaks.
For tech recruiters, earning a manager’s trust is often as simple as asking for feedback. Sure, some of them might not be afraid to share their opinions without being prompted. But in many cases, you’ll need to be the person who starts the conversation. You might not like some of the things hiring managers have to say, but taking the initiative to include them in the process at this level will show even the most fickle leader that you’re serious about finding and hiring the right developers.