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The Recruiter & Hiring Manager Disconnect

The Recruiter & Hiring Manager Disconnect

By Shawna Armstrong

A fictional but realistic Talent Acquisition Manager takes another call from a notoriously difficult Hiring Manager, who is clearly frustrated… again.  He doesn’t feel like enough traction is being made on his open roles. He’s not seeing enough qualified candidates. He has a hard time getting in touch with his Recruiter and thinks she is not even working on his job openings, or just not able to deliver the right talent.

The manager then moves to her weekly 1:1 meeting with said Recruiter and asks, “what are your current challenges and how can I help you?”  The Recruiter is also frustrated. She explains that her Hiring Manager is unclear on what he’s looking for. He has rejected several of her submittals with no feedback, and has not responded at all on others. 

He doesn’t read the reports she sends over or attend scheduled meetings. Instead, he leaves angry messages asking questions that were answered on the report and would have been answered on the call she set aside time for.  The messages come while she is busy on the phone cold calling and phone screening candidates. Most recently, they had finally gotten a candidate to offer and it was declined over a $2 per hour gap.

TAQ Managers, Recruiters and Hiring Managers, does this sound vaguely familiar?


“I’m not a magician. I can’t manufacture people out of thin air.  What he’s looking for is not out there or not interested at the rate he’s paying.  I don’t even understand what he wants. He tells me they must have industry experience, but then he just hired a referral with no experience.” 

Maybe you should be flattered that you are viewed as a magical wizard, but more likely you are stressed out by what you feel are unreasonable expectations and a lack of partnership.

The disconnect happens when you allow these feelings to manifest into resignation and loss of motivation.  In the worst-case scenarios, a thought pattern of: nothing I do is good enough, he doesn’t listen to me, we’ll never get anywhere, why bother.  The consequences will follow the thought pattern. Nothing you do will be good enough, the Hiring Manager won’t listen, and you won’t be a successful hiring team.  It’s a world where no news is good news, because it means your HM is not complaining. It’s actually bad news because you’re not communicating.

How do you fix it?  A mindset shift from problem identifier to problem solver.  It’s simple but not always easy. Don’t let your frustrations get in the way of moving past the issues to figure out WHY they exist, so you can identify potential solutions.  Because once you identify solutions, you’ll deliver better service. And once you deliver better service, you’ll begin to become a trusted partner… and the Hiring Manager begins to listen... see where this is going?

Maybe you need to change up your search, marketing or outreach strategy to get more qualified talent into the pipeline.  Maybe you need to spend time educating your Hiring Manager on market factors and feedback, and collaborating on strategy adjustments.  Maybe you need to explain more thoroughly why you are submitting a particular candidate if it is not obvious on paper or based on prior conversations.  Maybe you need to be more flexible with your communication and availability. Maybe you need to bring someone more influential into the conversation.

Appreciate that the open position can put a lot of pressure on the HM and behind the tension may be a huge sense of urgency.


“I just need more quality candidates.  I don’t think my Recruiter is even working on this.  I’m not getting the right people.”  

Limited visibility into all that goes into the sourcing and recruitment process and a lack of expertise in HR and the talent landscape has left you at the mercy of Recruiters to help fill key roles so you can accomplish your business objectives and serve your customers.  

The disconnect happens when you allow this lack of visibility and knowledge to manifest into mistrust.  In the worst-case scenarios, a thought pattern of: she doesn’t understand my needs, she doesn’t share my sense of urgency, she’s not doing anything to help me, she doesn’t even answer my calls. 

It’s a world where no news is bad news, because it means your Recruiter probably isn’t working. In reality, she most likely sets aside time to run those reports for you and schedule calls with you because the rest of her time is taken up researching, networking, cold calling, screening, interviewing, writing up submittals, fielding candidate callbacks, scheduling interviews, updating the status of every candidate in the ATS, tracking efforts, sending offers and attending meetings – all for any number of roles and Hiring Managers.

How do you fix it?  A mindset shift from suspicion and doubt to trust and understanding.  This is also simple, but not always easy. Understand that just as you are a subject matter expert in structural engineering or data science or mechanics or financial auditing, your Recruiter is a subject matter expert in hiring. 

Trust that they know how to research and network and know that it can be time consuming for harder to fill roles. Trust that they’re versed in geographic and functional market conditions including supply & demand, competition, and compensation rates.  Know that they are skilled at evaluating candidates in an unbiased manner and matching them to roles. Be especially open to high potential prospects that may be a little outside of the box.

Have faith that they are not ignoring or avoiding you, but that they are extremely busy researching, strategizing, networking, marketing, screening, assessing, selling, communicating, and coordinating to help you fill your positions.  Be a part of the solution. Help your Recruiter trouble-shoot challenges and understand that sourcing more candidates is not always the right fix. If the market demands, be willing to train, or increase salary, or help write a stronger value propositions, or start an employee referral contest.

When interviewing, consider potential for success based on skills and abilities, not “cultural fit,” or other traits which can be perceived as biased and result in lack of diversity.  Don’t expect recruiting to keep pace with high turnover. And for the love of god, when you reject a candidate, give your Recruiter specific actionable feedback for their continued search. “Not a fit” provides zero value and will not get you closer to your target.

Appreciate that your Recruiter has the same goal as you, to fill the position, and there is a tremendous amount of effort put in which you don’t see.


Listen with the intent to understand both sides.  Get to underlying causes. Help analyze, trouble-shoot and problem solve.  Support both sides. Be the bridge. Don’t just focus on metrics, KPIs, volume and speed.  Ultimately, when a high value is placed on quality, communication, problem solving, and relationships - partnerships improve, and so do results.