Should You Approach Hiring Managers or HR for Contract Job Orders?

By DEBBIE FLEDDERJOHANN, President of Top Echelon Contracting

Should a recruiter go to the hiring manager or human resources (HR) for contract job orders? Just a few years ago, the immediate answer would have likely been “hiring managers.”  That’s because the hiring processes were typically handled separately, and HR was often not even aware of open contract positions.

But as companies increasingly embrace a blended workforce model that integrates BOTH direct hires and contractors, HR is more often in charge of ALL talent acquisition at many mid-size to large organizations.  Therefore, if recruiters bypass HR, they could miss out on some prime contract staffing opportunities.

Veteran contract staffing recruiter and Top Echelon Network Preferred Member Linda Blakemore of Atlantic Pacific Group, Inc. advocates always starting with HR and discussed why at the 2014 Top Echelon Network National Convention, where she gave a presentation on contract staffing.  She said that HR departments typically have the best feel for hiring, both direct and contract, throughout an entire organization.

“Recruiters are often surprised when I tell them I work with HR.  They ask me, ‘Don’t they get in the way?’” said Blakemore.  “I say, ‘No, I need them.’  Even if HR is not your niche, don’t be afraid to talk to them.  They often know what needs to be filled.”

Below is a list of four reasons why Blakemore likes to start with HR:

  1. They are in charge of the approved vendor list.  Many HR departments specifically tell hiring managers NOT to go to vendors.  HR is often given the authority to choose the vendors, so you have to start with HR if you want to get on the list.
  2. They have the inside scoop on open positions.  Because they deal with a wide range of employee issues, they are often the first to know when a position may be coming open and can quietly give you a heads-up, like when employees are on performance plans or someone is about to take a leave of absence.
  3. Get your foot in the door.  HR is Blakemore’s main niche, but she often gets introduced to other areas of the organization, which leads to more job orders beyond HR.
  4. Don’t burn bridges.  “They hold onto the contracting piece very, very tightly,” Blakemore said.  “If you try to back-door it, you aren’t going to win any brownie points.”

Some smaller companies don’t have a dedicated HR department, so in those situations, the hiring person may still be your go-to person.  But when there is an HR department, be sure to keep them in the loop.  Even if you have an established relationship with a hiring manager or HR has given you the okay to work directly with the hiring managers, you can gain the appreciation and respect of the HR department by keeping them involved.

“They appreciate the heads-up on things so they don’t get blindsided,” Blakemore said.

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