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As a parent, I may or may not be inappropriately preoccupied with my mid-20s single son’s** dating life. I mean, of course I think he’s quite the catch (insert llama meme here). I’ve encouraged (nagged) that he “go out there and meet people” and join online dating platforms. I’ve gone as far as proposing that he let me help him through the Wingman app which is for “Better dates landed by friends” but not as far as this wingmom. Unsurprisingly, he said TBNT.

For whatever reason, and probably because I tend to overthink things, this situation reminded me of recruiting and the different ways candidates look for work. I then remembered a topic suggestion from a peer based on comments they’ve received on the reasons candidates prefer a “wingman”- an external recruiter – when looking for a job. Those include:

* Candidate submitted by 3rd party recruiter mentioning that they saw the job posted on the company’s career page months prior but not submitting their resume directly “Because it's common knowledge that job postings go nowhere, and no one ever looks at what you send in."

* Being asked for recruiter recommendations dealing with specific companies (who happen to be advertising jobs) instead of applying directly because they “don't think you get attention if you're on your own. Everything goes through recruiters these days."

Ouch! As the person responsible for talent acquisition for our organization, it hurts to hear comments like those. I personally review each resume submittal and match as many as possible to open roles forwarding them to the hiring managers. That said, I must admit there is an unhealthy lag between the time a resume is submitted, the hiring manager takes action or decides not to, and the feedback loop is closed with the candidate. Unlike my son who was swift with his TBNT, we are not consistently timely in sending the TBNT to candidates. That is an ongoing struggle whether I have five applicants for a role or 100. And this is where I speculate the idea of a wingman is very attractive.

If I’m honest, if I were looking for a role, I’d also want someone by my side who has access to multiple open roles, who has a vested interest in providing a great match to the hiring manager, provides feedback to both the candidate and organization, and has time-to-fill goals that usually determine whether they get paid or not. The thing is, a lot of that is applicable to internal talent acquisition individuals, whether as a specialized role or as part of generalist duties.

As an HR practitioner, I have a vested interest in providing the best matches possible to the hiring managers and to candidates. It’s difficult to stay engaged in a role if a leader and employee do not jive and/or if a position is not a good fit for an employee. I intentionally listed position as the “thing” not being a fit because in my opinion, when that happens, it’s not the fault of the person in the role. That same employee can thrive and excel in some other position, perhaps even in another organization. It’s not a moral failure to not do well in one specific job! If employees are not engaged, productivity suffers.

So how do we improve this? Become a wingman to hiring managers! Approach recruiting as a way to connect humans to opportunities rather than requisitions to fill. Guide the hiring managers as they determine what’s most essential and necessary in the roles and coach as they select from the actual pool of candidates. Help the hiring manager come to a timely decision. Some of this may seem aspirational but then again, so is waiting for the purple unicorn, which of course may not readily exist.

What’s your biggest struggle in talent acquisition, as a hiring manager, and/or as a candidate?

** Mid 20’s single son gave permission to include this but not his picture or stats which was disappointing :-)

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