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Down here, I am. Find a ladder, I must…..


What do you get if you put a room full of HR Directors from across the world together? A debate on recruitment…….Well to be honest it’s not a World Cup year, all our economies are up shit creek and given the varying nations in the room “who started the war” probably wasn’t the best topic of conversation.

So with some of my erstwhile colleagues we started talking about the role of HR in recruitment. And to be honest I was out there on my own. Being British this is of course nothing new to me as when it comes to international relations we have a singular ability to do the “Johnny no mates” routine better than most.  

The collective view in the room was that HR had a fundamental role to play in actively recruiting staff into the business. This was based on the assertion that we acted as a foil to the manager and brought to the party “special skills” in identifying talent and future potential. This was also compounded by the fact that they felt candidates liked to meet with HR as they got to see the face of the company.

My view? Well it’s not the above. I do believe that HR has a role in recruitment, but I believe it is to skill and train managers so that they can recruit successfully. There is an attraction piece where I think HR can add value, there is a process piece which I think it makes sense to centralise and there is an offer and “on boarding” piece which I think HR can support. Other than that, I struggle to see how we add value. To suggest that we have some Jedi like capability, “the force is strong in this one”, is just nonsense. There may be a number of leadership roles that would benefit from a broader input than just the functional line manager. But in general are we really adding any value?

Or are we instead doing this because,

1) We don’t trust managers and want to police their activity?

2) We aren’t skilled enough in other areas and therefore don’t have enough to do?

3) We like to believe that we have some seventh sense that raises us above mere mortals?

4 Comments leave one →
  1. humanresourcespufnstuf permalink
    11/17/2009 18:56

    First, love the new look of the site. Second, I think how recruitment is handled is often a function of scope. I always take the view that recruiting, although often residing in HR, isn’t necessarily an HR “function”. We exist to do a couple of things:
    -Generate a pool of candidates
    -Narrow down said pool and provide only the top few to the managers
    -Map external talent and develop pipelines for future need
    It’s hard to justify line managers time in doing those things, so that’s where I and my team step in.

  2. 11/18/2009 13:47

    @Puf – Thanks for the kind feedback. I agree to a point and all of the examples I would see sitting in HR too (although I think pipelininig is shared). There are transactional pieces that should sit with an HR services team. I was taken aback at how many HR people, however, thought that they should be sitting in interviews. I wonder whether they have time to do anything else? (NB. These were generalists, not resourcers).

  3. 11/28/2009 22:31

    I will say that spending the last 3+ years in a fortune 500 HR department I couldn’t agree with you more. I thought I was alone in this opinion. I’ve spent 20 years in recruiting and I would never put it in the HR function. It should be aligned with the line of business with support from HR for reasons you spoke of. Our HR dept. not only did not respect recruiting upon my arrival, they didn’t understand it and no one in senior leadership had a recruiting background. We turned the most underperforming team into a world class team including a self funded sourcing team. We did this with 30% less staff and always under budget for the first time ever in this firm. When HR leadership doesn’t support recruiting then you have glorified admins (which in this firm were admins that were poor performers supporting them at one time and didn’t fire them) at the corporate recruiting desks shuffling resumes to the line managers. Managers should be taught how to identify top talent and then what to do to bring them in when they recognize what it looks like. This should be the role of HR with regards to recruiting. This is spoken from a third party recruiter for years too so I have a different lense than most perhaps.

  4. 11/30/2009 09:39

    @nanram79 – Thanks for your comment. It’s reassuring to hear that there are others out there that think like I do. I emain convinced that HR people should be driving line capability in identifying talent rather than as you say, “shuffling resumes”.

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