5 Empathetic Ways to Calm Job Seekers’ Fears

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Dec 28, 2018

The record-low unemployment rate hasn’t made job seekers feel more in control of their careers. Instead, it has brought deeply-rooted fears to the surface, sending even more qualified talent into hiding.

In fact, our recent report The Truth Revealed: Is Low Unemployment Causing a Medical Sales Jobs Shortage?, revealed many of those fears stem from the effects of the Great Recession. And although many job-seeker fears aren’t realistic from a recruiter’s viewpoint, misconceptions about the current state of the job market are turning talent acquisition on its head.

For example, the majority of respondents revealed they believe low unemployment makes it harder for them to land a new job. This misunderstanding of the job market’s current needs creates a great gap for recruiters to overcome. However, this fear is just one of many for job seekers today. And these types of fears decrease trust, leaving candidates hesitant about the recruitment process, in general, if not approached delicately.

To regain trust and re-establish candidate confidence, recruiters must squash job seekers’ fears — empathetically. Here are five ways you can put job seekers’ fears to rest and close the talent gap:

Check your own emotions but don’t leave them at the door.

Emotional baggage is messy and complicated — in any relationship. Being open and honest is the best way to check that emotional baggage and ensure it doesn’t get in the way of connecting with others. To do this, find a balance between not openly telling candidates their fears are crazy (if that’s what you believe) and shoving your emotions down into the abyss.

Not having your own emotions in check before chatting with a candidate makes it nearly impossible to open yourself up to their feelings. So, give yourself time to accept your own feelings.

Ask yourself:

  • Are you feeling the pressures of struggling to find candidates?
  • Are you frustrated with their misunderstandings about the job market?
  • Are you worried this candidate will result in wasted time?

Respond to yourself honestly. Acknowledge each of these feelings as your own. This will allow you to be in complete control of them during one-on-one sit-downs with candidates. Then, you’ll have the power to appropriately relay specific emotions to candidates in a comfortable and relatable way.

For example, was your career negatively impacted by a former recession? Or did a current employer once hear about your job search, resulting in negative repercussions?

Now, as a successful recruiter, you’ve obviously overcome prior negative circumstances. How did you do it? Use those personal moments of fear or defeat to connect with job seekers on a personal level and help them overcome their current issues.

Create an empathy roadmap.

Empathy maps are often used as a marketing tool. However, many successful recruiters have proven the same marketing tactics used to attract customers can also successfully attract candidates.

Empathy maps help you visualize job seekers’ needs/fears, putting them into a brief, easy-to-use chart. They’ll help your entire team consider what your target job seekers really need based on their fears and hopes.

Use this step-by-step guide to help get your empathy map started. By directly seeing what your ideal candidate thinks/feels, hears, says/does, and pain points, you’ll have the power to empathize with their very specific fears.

Once you’ve created and assessed your map, connect what candidates’ see and hear with their common fears, frustrations, and obstacles. Use this information to help you refocus your recruitment strategy.

Based on negative experiences they’re seeing in the media or from other job seekers, they’re fearful of fully committing to a job search. Start filling their social media news feeds with positivity. Find statistics showing job seekers hold the power in today’s market. Ask new hires to get personal in a selfie video about how they overcame their fears, what attracted them to their new place of employment, and why they’re happy they took the leap.

Don’t make any assumptions.

Assumptions create an empathy roadblock. Yet, they’re so easy to make, especially when you see job seekers from an entirely unique vantage point. Those noisy, disruptive thoughts assuming why job seekers act or feel the way they do drown out the truth behind their fears.  

Consider the last time a candidate turned down your job offer with no specific reason. What reasons did you assume to fill that void? Perhaps they were fearful that your new role wouldn’t improve their career situation or there wouldn’t be enough flexibility to ensure they could be home for dinner with their family.

Assumptions inhibit your ability to tackle those specific fears in the future for this candidate and others. Rather than jumping to conclusions, when candidates seem hesitant to apply or accept a current offer, encourage them to open up to you about their needs.

Don’t grill them with a hundred questions. Set the interrogation tactics aside and adopt a softer, more conversational approach. Ask open-ended questions that make candidates feel valued, not judged. Rather than asking, “What’s stopping you from accepting this offer?” Ask, “What do you like about your current workplace that you were hoping to find elsewhere, too?”  

Recognize all their fears.

Not all job seeker fears reflect a company’s truth. Some, for example, are afraid a company won’t remain financially secure. The company you’re hiring for may have the brightest growth plan and potential, making this fear look unreasonable. However, empathy requires you to recognize this as a real and intimidating fear.

Validate job seekers’ fears rather than pointing out their misconceptions. No matter how positive the future looks on your end, nobody can guarantee a future with no layoffs. Research the company’s job security and support options. Let job seekers know you understand their fears. Then, offer them the information to help them make the most informed decision for their futures.

Hear what they’re saying and follow up on it.

Being empathetic doesn’t mean you agree with a candidate’s fear. It does, however, show them you’re concerned for them as a person, not just a checkmark on your long to-do list. Taking action solidifies this and encourages an even stronger relationship.

Show candidates you understand their qualms by remembering what they said and continually acting on it. For example, if they’re fearful it’d be challenging to land a job in this market, send them updated lists of roles you think they’d excel in.

Also, send personalized success stories of new hires who took a chance and landed a new job with a company that inspires them. This proves you heard what they said, are empathetic, and are willing to proactively help them through it.

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