Recruiting, as many of us know it, has undergone a transformation in the last few years. In fact, there are recruiters coming in to the workforce now who only source within LinkedIn Recruiter, or who’ve never had to keep a physical (read: paper) file on a candidate. Some of the changes that have rocked our industry over the last six to eight years have been great ones . Some could use a keener eye, but I’m not here to criticize.
What I want to do is point to the things that haven’t changed; I want to talk about getting back to recruiting basics. Because not everyone can afford the fancy social recruiting suites and very few can veto the boss when he says no to a perks program. These are the skills that every recruiter should know and all recruiters used to know . These things obviously work with the new tools and platforms … but they’re effective without them. So let’s get back to the basics.
Here are five things not to forget in the social recruiting fervor.
- How to connect. Connecting has become something we can say we did at the click of a mouse, but it’s really much more than that. So many recruiters are sitting behind a screen all day that they’ve lost what drew many of us to the industry in the first place: the people! The recruiters of ye olde tymes went to user groups (physical ones, in buildings), hung out at college career fairs, went to networking receptions, and asked their neighbors if they knew anyone for a COBOL position. And the only reason people didn’t throw these recruiters right out on their hind ends was because they knew how to connect , how to figure out what someone liked or didn’t like, and size up a prospect by the way they behaved in a crowded room. Connecting, via phone or face-to-face, made so many recruiters simply stellar at their jobs. It still can. With all the data you receive on your target audience, how much do you know about your placements? Where’s the “social”? Today you can see the “connector” in a different way, that recruiter who goes the extra mile to make an introduction or walk the hiring manager through new technology. They’ve got skills.
- How to research. The new crop of recruiters may never believe this, but the Internet used to be hard. But we didn’t know it was hard. All we knew was that the person we needed was out there, somewhere, and we had to write a Boolean string (or something that looked like one) to find that person. Online certifications, resume databases, college graduation logs, business journals, tech journals, old school recruiters, and especially sourcers knew how to scour them all. Now unless a free service can boast at least a million profiles, we’re not even interested. The new crop of very sophisticated services out there not only find these people based on social bits of ephemera, they score them, deliver them and usually we even get a picture. But the irony is that you should still know how to research -why?- for the same reason the 49′rs headed into the hills when their companions were panning “fool’s gold” in the stream. If something is really precious, it’s not coming to you on a silver platter, you have to search. And with more sophisticated results, you have a better pool from which to search, keeping you one step ahead of the other guys.
- How to pitch . Before you could find out everything about a town online, down to the school’s Facebook page, people were far more reticent to move to far-flung or remote places. As a recruiter, if you were trying to sell someone on taking a job in Lenexa, Kansas, and they lived in Dayton, Ohio, it took actual pitching skills. Skills that would do Mad Men proud. You had to call in the Chamber of Commerce, pull school stats, show them the airport situation, and bring them out one, maybe two times for a visit. It was a long-tail sale, and recruiters did it just as well as anyone. But even when no move was involved, job seekers weren’t keen to move and risk company loyalty the way they are today. So convincing them that this move was right for them took a little psychology, some charm and a lot of information. Recruiters who retain this skill know when to use it to their advantage with the even-more-plentiful resources social media and a global Internet provide. Pitching serves pretty much every profession well, so today’s recruiter is probably tapping marketing to get some incredible employer branding.
- How to ask. Asking is sorely underrated these days. You probably thought I was going to say “How to sell,” which is still important but the “ask” is the part that seems to be fundamentally missing from the social cycle these days. We have calls to action and social selling; nurturing campaigns and inbound marketing … but sometimes people just want to be asked. All this beating around the bush isn’t speeding things up. Old school recruiters knew when to say “Are you in?” and the best ones knew exactly the answer they would get. While none of these sales-supporting endeavors are bad, when you don’t have the skill of being able to say “I want you to take this job, because it will be great for you and good for me and my client will love having you in the position. Let’s move” — well, you’re not a recruiter are you? Today’s recruiters know when to ask, whether it’s being direct in a direct message on Twitter, or picking up the phone to clear up a thorny hiring situation, the ask is tough, but crucial.
- How to persist. Recruiting isn’t always easy today and it definitely wasn’t easy a few years ago. But smart recruiters knew that they had seen bubbles before, weathered recessions, and had hires fall through, yet they persisted. As we go through different yet just-as-frustrating situations today, the skill of persistence needs to stay in our arsenal. Persistence tells the recruiter to ask for the hiring manager to take just one more look, the candidate to take one more call, and the client to take just one extra hire for the quarter. Persistence is built into the DNA of a good recruiter, so persistence today looks more like continuing to pursue that purple squirrel candidate even when others say it can’t be done, or the persistence to implement assessments in your organization to address a cultural problem.
What old school skills are you planning on using in the new social world?
scared-to-ask  photo from bigstock, for ERE.net use only