QUESTION: I have a client who I have worked with for 17 years, and I have been their exclusive recruiter during this time. Typically, I bill around $100,000 with them annually. I have placed many candidates with them who are now VPs and even higher up. I have always had relationships with the hiring manager, who I call directly after I have been assigned a search. We’ll go over the search and I’ll ask them questions about the type of candidate, territory, etc. I do this throughout the entire process. I submit resumes to them directly and copy HR on all submittals.

This morning I met with their new HR team, and they do not want me to interact with the hiring manager moving forward. Everything has to go through HR, which I am not accustomed to. I told them I would play by their rules on a limited basis and see how this works. I wanted to tell them to go pound sand. My question is, what would you do? Do I play their game, or do I ditch them? I am open to any suggestions. I appreciate your help.

Understanding the Impact of New HR Policies on Recruiting Relationships

Every time I read something like this, I get so ticked off for you. In my experience, my gut feeling, and this did happen to me a few times in my career, especially with clients where I made multiple placements. Typically, what happens is – I can’t have 100% certainty, but I can probably say it with 70.6% certainty – a new HR team comes in, and they have promised the CFO or the COO, whoever, they are going to save money on fees, among other things. Their job has been to tighten all the fees they pay to good people like you.

Potential Miscommunication Between HR and Hiring Managers

My gut feeling is your hiring managers have yet to learn of this new policy. What I have done is, I called all my hiring manager contacts.

“Hey Jim, I can use your help because I’m unsure what to do. Worst-case scenario, I am going to have to resign.”

In the worst-case scenario, I am going to have to resign—I throw out a threat. Because it is the worst-case scenario. You told me, or you said in this note, I want to tell them to go pound sand.

“I am sure you are aware of HR’s new policy, under which I am not allowed to interact with you anymore, so I have a couple of questions. What did I do to tick you off and waste your time?”

The Value of Direct Communication in the Recruiting Process

Now, my gut feeling is you have got a great relationship with them, and again, they have no idea, they are going to get pissed off. That is what we want. Essentially, we want them to get a little bit ticked off because, most likely, HR does not trump over a Vice President of Sales and their hiring goals.

I invite you to have that conversation with the hiring manager. Are you risking pissing off HR? Yes. I promise you, with high probability, that working their way, you will waste so much time and lose the relationships you built.

I would suggest setting up a Zoom meeting with you, the hiring manager, and the HR person to talk through how you work with everyone and to talk through how HR can get what they need from you. To satisfy a tracking perspective you are already copying emails, and then to have the hiring manager tell HR directly in front of you the value of having direct communication with you about the strategizing as a point of the offer.

Highlighting Success Stories to Reinforce Your Value

The going back and forth where you submit a candidate and the hiring manager goes:

“I am not sure I want to interview this person.”

You can point to the hiring manager and go:

“Remember when you hired Mary Smith and did not want to interview her? I showed you the things that were really part of her skillset that were not apparent on the resume as related to your position, and we talked that through. You interviewed her, and I am just going based on what you told me the last time: She is one of your top performers right now.”

“Oh, she is. She is amazing.”

With Mr. HR person, that candidate was only interviewed because of my interaction, strategizing, and understanding Jim’s needs as the hiring manager.

The Risk of Losing Quality in Recruitment Through New HR Policies

Everyone has their own business. This is the type of stuff I walked away from because what I wanted was – and it happens a lot in a minority of situations, but it happens where the hiring manager goes; it’s not our budget. We are trying to work in your favor. I know. Where do you go now in a candidate-tight market? They are going to mess it up and they are going to mess it up big.

The hiring managers are going to be frustrated. It will not be smooth, especially if they are working with a pro like you. It is just going to break down, and when you follow their system, and it breaks, HR goes, he ain’t doing the job, meaning the recruiter. They are going to make you take the fall. If you are not involved in the process, they cannot make you take the fall.

Navigating HR Challenges to Maintain Recruitment Quality

Go to the hiring manager. The hiring manager probably does not even know what the situation is. If they are attached to you, they are really going to go to battle for you. But it is really, really hard. If you agree to work with their terms, you lose all your leverage. If you try to reason with them and if you cannot, you either threaten resignation or actually resign. I am not telling you what you should do. I am telling you what I would do. That is the process.

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