Recruiting and what makes a good recruiter. A subject close to my heart; it’s one I’ve thought about a lot. There’s been much written on the subject, everything from sales strategies, playing the numbers game and the inevitable “why I love recruiting” blogs, essays and contests.
In my mind, what’s more important to my clients and candidates alike is ‘what makes an effective recruiter’? In a business measured by placements, billings & job orders, it’s easy to overlook some of the finer points of what truly makes a good recruiter great.
One of the first things I remember my icon and mentor, Richie Harris telling me, was that ‘This is a people business and people are unpredictable.” This was over twenty-five years ago and a truth I still hold dear to today. Starting with that premise, I put extraordinary value in not just building relationships, but building the right relationships. In the recruiting world, anything can happen and does. You get your run of the mill cold feet and counter offers as well as unrealistic clients and candidates. So the first rule of being effective is in the relationships you court and nurture. Richie also believed if you represented the best talent to the best companies consistently, you would also be differentiated from the average recruiter and find long term success and clientele.
An effective recruiter knows her place in the world – she’s friend, confidante, counsel and strategist. She is the authority and the bellwether. Most of all she’s reliable, consistent and trustworthy.
An effective recruiter also knows when (and how) to say no and is not afraid to give bad news. I’ve often heard candidates bemoan the fact that a recruiter they were working with never followed up on a submission or interview. I’ve often attributed this to the recruiter’s discomfort with sharing critical feedback. Without further communication, a candidate can feel used and disrespected. Sharing uncomfortable news is part of the program – our reputations are maintained not by what we say, but that we step up and say it!
The most successful recruiters are in tune with being forthright to both clients and candidates. We know our market space and it’s incumbent upon us to be honest regarding the job orders we are recruiting for. Though paid by the client company, we represent both parties, so it’s critical to be realistic regarding expectations on both sides. It’s a fine line to walk sometimes. What client doesn’t want to get the most for less and what candidate doesn’t hope for a big increase in salary, etc.?
And sometimes it just makes sense to walk away. Putting a value on what we do is our first responsibility to us. If we don’t, why should our clients? It’s no surprise that companies who continually drive down fees and extend guarantees are often the most time consuming to please. And let’s not even discuss returning fees!!! Can you imagine a company’s CPA’s or attorney’s returning fees because their client doesn’t like the results? I would think if you’re willing to return a fee, you don’t have much faith in your ability to make the right hire either.
Our industry is regarded as cutthroat, but it’s we who often cut our own! I can elaborate much further, but you get the point.
Ultimately, effective recruiters should be doing more than just selling hard and overwhelming your clients with resumes. After all, if a client wants an ad run for their openings, they could do it themselves and save thousands of dollars in fees. If you’re effective and seasoned, you’ve built a strong network of connections over time. By building trust and representing great clients and candidates, the inspiring recruiter at the least, gets a response. Being effective is a committment to doing your homework, unearthing the top talent, partnering with your client to influence the passive candidate to look, get (and stay) interested and then represent both parties in finalizing the hire.
I’ve always viewed my role as consultative, rather than sales driven. Yes, of course I have to pay the rent too, but in this very competitive world of social recruiting and in-house networking, you must be able to differentiate yourself from HR and your competition. Viewing yourself as a professional and regarding your service as value added goes a long way in establishing credibility and of course successful placements. I won’t say it’s easy – the Great Recession saw the recruiting industry shrink by at least 60%.
Richie used to also say that good recruiters have a cast iron stomach – he wasn’t kidding!