As in any business, the world of Recruiters, “Headhunters”, “Executive Search Professionals”, etc. includes the good, the bad, and the ugly. There are those in it for some good cash for now, and those in it to build a great long-term sustainable business. Which are you?
This industry is characterized by a glut of new recruiters when times are good, and dramatic reductions when times get tough. It’s an easy business to get into, but it’s a tough business to stay in during economic downturns. I often tell people… “This is a business that, when times are good, there’s almost nothing better. There’s a lot of relatively easy money to be made. However, when times are bad, there’s almost nothing worse. The ‘gravy train’ dries up very quickly and companies recruiting budgets disappear.”
There are a number of factors that go into making someone successful in this industry over the long run. However, I believe one differentiator is being willing to add value for people whether you’re likely to make an immediate buck or not. Especially in a down economy, when many good prospective candidates, and perhaps some former (and potentially future) clients are out of work, finding ways to be of help to them pays great long-term dividends. Do you invest significant time and energy into people that can’t be of immediate value to you? Do you view people as people, or simply evaluate them by whether they are worth money to you or not? Are you willing to find ways to assist people that don’t even seem to be of potential value to you down the road?
Many recruiters do, and many, many recruiters don’t.
I see so many recruiters that are so unwilling to share information with others that they create the impression that they are only in it for a buck. Whether it’s a lack of trust, lack of caring, or lack of long-term vision, they sacrifice valuable long-term relationships (and revenue) for a quick hit.
I’ve been recruiting for the past 24 years. Just as any other recruiter, I am only able to place a tiny percentage of all the people I talk to. However, I have tried to find some way to be a valuable resource to virtually every new person I connect with. I may not be able to place them directly, however, I generally offer to help them in a variety of ways:
- Coach them on improvements to their resume, or approach, or interview skills
- Help them prepare for interviews with “inside information” even though it’s not my placement
- Give them suggestions of good networking groups or resources in their area of focus
- Connect them with other people that may be a source of leads
- Refer other good recruiters that may be able to help when I can’t
- …and even provide them contact names at companies they are targeting to pursue on their own!
As recruiters, we have a unique perspective on what makes a good candidate or what job search practices work best. After an interview, we get to debrief with our candidates as well as with the hiring manager. We get to hear what resonated, and what didn’t. We see how people get jobs. We hear why a hiring manager selected one candidate over another. We see these things so often and, for us, it becomes “common sense” to do certain things and not others. To many job seekers though, who aren’t exposed to the job search process as we are year in and year out, that “common sense” can be quite uncommon!
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When they find a recruiter who sincerely wants to help, they are very often very willing to reciprocate that help now, or down the road. People I’ve helped have often become future hiring managers somewhere, and many even become clients. They often become great ongoing resources for referrals. They often become great resources of job leads and hiring manager names. They often become a viable candidate years later after they’ve gained more experience and/or become more professional in their presentation. And some of the most valuable long-term relationships originally were people I thought would never be of help to me at all.
Some of my best relationships are people I’ve placed multiple times in their careers. They were initially early or mid-level in their career, became hiring managers and clients, candidates again, and clients again somewhere else. I have many people I’ve never placed, but talk to often throughout the year because they are great connectors for me with referrals, information, and leads.
Have I ever gotten burned because I gave a contact name to someone who somehow used it to hurt a potential placement for me? Yes, a couple of times. Have I gotten more business because of my willingness to share valuable information when they need it for their own benefit and not mine? Yes, many times. Do I get calls back more quickly from clients and candidates when I’m seeking referrals because I’ve helped them in the past? Absolutely! Has my job gotten easier because I have people calling me proactively with information, job orders, and leads, because they know I will help them again in the future? Yes!
Keeping everything you know close to the vest may benefit you in the short-run. However, sharing information freely and helping people whether they can help you in return or not will enable you to build a successful practice over the long haul! Try it! You may not see the results this month, or this year, but results will come and make your life much more rewarding in the process!