Secret Recipe For Great Hiring: Make Leaders Finger Lickin’ Good, Y’all

Dawn Burke Dawn Burke, Jobvite, Leadership, Recruiting

“Just give him some wood and he’ll build you a cabinet.”

Beastie Boys, Finger Lickin’ Good.

Talent Acquisition Specialists, time to look in the mirror for 2017. How do you make your recruiting efforts sky-rocket? Let your hiring managers run the show.

Wait WHHHAAAT? Yeah, that scared me too. But it shouldn’t scare us because it is intuitive.

Here are some of my fundamental beliefs:

  • Leaders fundamentally believe, due to the nature of their job or their job title or their role, that they are intuitively experts in people.
  • HR Pros fundamentally believe, due to the nature of their job or their job title or their role, that they are intuitively experts in people.
  • HR should not own a vast majority of HR functions nor should HR be measured in isolation for most corporate outcomes.
  • People want to do good work.
  • HR pros will never and should never know more about a position than the hiring manager.

So what does that mean for recruiters?

For some, it means shifting the philosophy and very value proposition of the talent acquisition function. For years many recruiting teams have believed that they are failures if something goes wonky in the recruiting process. And when I say process, I mean from soup-to-nuts, including sourcing to interviewing to selection. Why? Because that is our gig. Protect and preserve, a very human instinct.

But it’s not your gig anymore. It’s “our” gig. You and the hiring manager. You and the company. You and marketing if they are helping you source.

But aren’t recruiters the Subject Matter Experts?  

You better believe it baby. You need to know enough about recruiting to teach anyone involved in the process, everything they need to know about recruiting. However (and this is big) you have no authority at all over the hiring decision maker. So quit trying to have it. No matter how much more you know, no matter how much “sales guy” you have in you, no matter how you are incentivized, it is a losing battle.  And it is not your job to make that decision.

So what is your role? You teach a man to fish. Or as Adam Yauch said, “Give him some wood and he’ll build you a cabinet.” Yes you. The successful hiring manager will help you build credibility, trust, and a successful recruiting function.

So here are some quick things talent teams can do to make their hiring managers finger lickin’ good, y’all.

  • Before you get into what the “job requirements” are or what the “interview process” is, ask ONE question. This one question will help you determine so many, many things regarding next steps. The question is, “What can the talent acquisition team do to make YOU successful in filling this job?”
  • Do not believe you are smarter than hiring managers. The entire USA learned this during our last election. It is a gross misstep to generalize all hiring managers as the stupid ones and recruiters as the ones who get it. All involved are smart and trying to do the right thing.
  • Assume leaders are time-strapped. This can lead to fuzzy thinking. Not because of lack of cognitive ability, just time to make a thoughtful decision. Go into this knowing it is your job to provide tools to mitigate time issues.
  • Consider changing recruiting incentive programs. If this is a true partnership then the recruiter and hiring manager need to be incentivized together. If any of you have done this I’d LOVE to learn more.

There are many more steps to creating a successful recruiter/hiring manager team. And I am not suggesting it is easy. However, creating anything finger lickin’ good is never easy. But, just like the Colonel’s 11 herbs-and-spices, once you get the mix right, there is enough success to go around for everyone.

This post is sponsored by the recruiting pros at Jobvite, who, each month, let FOT write about a topic that will help recruiters raise their games via continuing education. Be on the lookout later this month for the FOT video series called “No Scrubs”—also brought to you by

Dawn Burke

Dawn Burke, founder/advisor for Dawn Burke HR, is an HR leader, speaker and writer specializing in new HR practices, engagement and workplace culture. Her HR/leadership career has spanned the last 20 years, most recently serving as VP of People for Birmingham, AL’s award-winning technology company, Daxko (And yes, Kris Dunn and Dawn are making Bham the HR capital of the world! Who knew?). You can also check her out at and a variety of other interesting places. Google her, it’ll keep you posted on what she is up to.