How Zenefits’ recruiting team created alignment and became a strategic business partner

Group of people at a conference table

4 mins, 2 secs read time

What would it look like if recruiting teams frequently met with key stakeholders (think Directors, VPs, and CEOs) to discuss things like hiring projections, product roadmap, and overall hiring needs?

That’d create alignment, right?

Yes, it absolutely would. Oftentimes, recruiting teams are playing constant catch-up. They have an open req and are quickly trying to fill a role that should have been filled weeks ago. It’s a common (and stressful) pain point for most, but there is a solution and a way to get in front of your departments to set hiring goals early before the need becomes a demand.

In our latest Hiring Hacks webinar, Michelle Delcambre, Director of Recruiting at Zenefits, realized that all the challenges she faced as a recruiter could be boiled down to one single issue: there was no unity between recruiting and the rest of the company.

Michelle knew if she positioned herself and her department as a strategic business partner and began focusing on overarching goals directly tied to the company, she would start seeing a recruiting approach that was focused on hires needed in the future rather than on hires needed weeks ago (let’s just say a lot less scrambling!).

So, what are the necessary tools to create this alignment and become a strategic business partner? Keep reading to find out!

Become data-driven

Take a step back and see what you’re tracking and how often you’re reviewing your metrics. Michelle and her team track everything on a monthly basis. Yes, I mean everything. From the number of interview no-shows, to how likely a candidate is to reschedule and then accept an offer after being a no-show, to where lost offers have gone—she’s capturing all of this and then translating the numbers into actions.

For example, Michelle can see from her reports that 10 technical hires took 100 hours of legwork. So if hiring managers need 30 new hires, you can figure that will take about 300 hours. Michelle can then ask herself, is that something her team has bandwidth for at the moment? Leveraging your data and understanding what your capacity is will help ensure that you can and will meet your hiring goals.

Some of you may be thinking, “I don’t have this type of data.”

Actually, you do! You just might not be tracking it. The good news is, it’s not too late, and an applicant tracking system could help facilitate this for you. First, start observing what’s broken or holding you back in the recruiting process. Then focus on these points and start building out reports based around them. Once you start seeing the numbers, you’ll begin to have solutions for the problems you and your teams are facing.

Now, when Michelle looks at her reports, she can say, “I know this to be true” compared to “I think this is happening.” She has data to back her up and can create proactive steps to start forecasting the important things like headcount, burn rate, and budget.

Create company buy-in

So you have the data, but what good is it if you don’t have people? We’re not talking about people in the sense of a recruiting team (but yes, that’s vital, too)—instead we’re talking about the people in each department: a partnership.

For Michelle, she works closely with Engineering and Product to make sure that the hires she’s bringing in tie in closely with the product roadmap. For example, if Michelle knows that next quarter Zenefits will be working on a new product launch then she’ll work backwards, calculating how many hires engineering will need to complete this product launch and how many hours of interviewing that will mean for the engineering team. By being proactive and setting up meetings with your hiring department, that otherwise might not have occurred, you’re creating a mutual understanding. Now, both departments have a clear sense of hiring priorities as well as what it takes to land exceptional candidates, and that may mean having candidates talk with the VP of Engineering. If you have this type of buy-in from key stakeholders it makes hiring a lot easier knowing you have people on your side.

This approach really works. Over the course of 2015 alone, Michelle’s team hired 20+ engineers every month, totaling 276 new hires!

This is what it means to be a strategic business partner. Recruiting teams can’t just have the stigma that they are the support system of bringing in new people. Recruiting is more than that; it’s the team that is truly building out the infrastructure of the company.

By looking into your data and reports and then following up with thoughtful conversations with key stakeholders, you’ll start to see your hiring strategies change. No longer will you feel like you’re behind but rather ahead of the game and growing alongside the company’s targeted goals.