Most thoughtful and intelligent recruiters will tell you that in order to be a good recruiter, you have to be good at sales, to be willing to take chances, and to have the ability to build networks through referrals. All of these are true.
However, one thing often overlooked in this day and age of the Web, virtual worlds, chat, IM, and email is relationships. There is an absence of one-on-one exchanges of information and true conversations.
As a recruiter, you can become too dependent on email and technology, which is a dangerous course to take. You should not underestimate the power of a one-on-one conversation. Candidates can’t truly determine your level of confidence over email, and you can’t properly portray your tone or easily reassure someone that you’ve “got what it takes” to find them a new career.
Do not use technology to build your relationships; use technology to make connections.
In fact, do yourself a favor this week?put down your mouse and pick up the phone! You’ll find that your output to success rate will climb by getting off email and getting back to live conversations.
I’ve talked with recruiters in the past 30 days who do everything they can to avoid calling candidates directly. They tell me that they don’t have the time or that email is more efficient. In reality, they are afraid. Afraid of taking a chance, making a mistake, taking the risk. And they are simply not prepared.
Recruiters have to realize that if they approach a candidate with professionalism and with something of benefit (a new career, an opportunity to grow, a better work/life balance), the candidate will not bite their head off. We must stop being afraid.
Prepare for the call and pick up the phone. No method to becoming a best-in-class recruiter is more effective than picking up the phone, making the call, and taking the chance.
Look at your current organization. Identify the top performers. I bet you will find one common theme: they are building relationships. They are always on the phone. They use technology as a tool, not as their primary method of correspondence.
Again, technology can help you make the connection so you can build the relationship; it won’t build the relationship for you.
No amount of slick or well-rehearsed conversation can buy you trust. It must be earned (by you) over time. Here are four simple but often overlooked things that you can do to earn someone’s trust and build lasting relationships over time:
- Be confident but not overbearing. It’s important to portray confidence in yourself, your opportunity, and your recruiting abilities when speaking with a candidate. How many times have we talked with someone who came across as arrogant? Maybe a salesperson at your local mall or the car dealership? You need to know the difference between confidence and arrogance and how people perceive you. Remember this simple fact: perception is reality.
- Be professional. That sounds simple, right? It’s not simple for everyone. Remember, don’t get off-topic, and stay focused when speaking with your candidates. Don’t make the call until you are prepared. And don’t make things up. It’s ok to say, “I’m not sure. Let me get back to you on that.”
- Follow through. Show the same commitment level as your candidate. Do not expect them to be fully committed if you are not. If you tell them you’re going to call them back, call them back. If they interview with one of your clients and are not selected for the position, don’t tell them via email! Pick up the phone and have an honest, transparent conversation about why they were not selected. Also, proactively reach out to your candidate to check in, to let them know that you are still actively looking for work for them, and that they have not been forgotten.
- Create surprise. Today customer service is about self-service, fast “checkout,” and cost-cutting. Make yourself stand out from the crowd. What separates you from other recruiters? When is the last time you met with a candidate in person? When is the last time you sent a candidate a hand-written congratulations card or flowers when they received the offer from your client? When is the last time you took one of your candidates to lunch or to coffee? Do simple things to surprise them; it doesn’t take a lot of effort to really make yourself stand out!
One missed conversation, one missed message, one missed opportunity to be different all means one missed relationship. Recruiting has become overly complicated. We must stop and take stock of what really matters and what sets us apart from the masses. It will always boil down to your ability to build lasting relationships with your clients and candidates.