Anyone that reads my stuff or knows me, knows I’m a headhunter. I’m pretty good and one of the reasons that I’m good is because I understand the importance of making it personal.
When you make it personal, you create connection.
Most searches don’t require the recruiter to connect; it might be helpful but isn’t required. Often times, persistence is good enough. Post a job, send some emails, make some calls (over and over and over), get some candidates, fill the job, move on….
Often times it is that simple.
Then there are those roles where the person you need is in demand, is working and truly needs to be recruited. The business objective or significance of the role often requires a higher-caliber person. Candidate after candidate is eliminated, people get frustrated and the position stays open.
Why can’t that exceptional person be found? Well, they can be and often are. Why can’t they be recruited? Again, they can be but the recruiter isn’t able to connect.
That skill, connecting, is the ability to make it personal and often times is the difference between recruiting decent talent and great talent.
The people who make the best connections are born with the innate ability to do it. They don’t learn it. The elite connectors can’t tell you how they do it. They don’t really know. They just can.
Think Tiger Woods hitting a golf ball or Roger Federer hitting a tennis ball. We can love golf or tennis and we can practice day and night but we will never be as good as those guys. They can’t tell you how they do it. They were born with it. It’s their gift. The same is true of the great connection creators.
But we can all get better at making a connection, especially recruiters. Here are some simple things that will improve your recruiting and your ability to connect.
Remember, you are talking to a person- Yup, a real live person. You are probably calling them at work. They might be busy. Understand that. They do stuff besides work. They might like to root for their favorite hockey team like you (which happens to be your favorite team) or make macaroni art like you or macramé plant holders like you. Connection happens when you find common ground. In order to find common ground, you must seek it out. Do it.
Expect resistance– All recruiters, internal and external, should expect resistance. Why? Because people often times associate recruiter calls with being a waste of time. The really bad recruiters have trained everyone to resist every recruiter. Additionally, recruiters mean change and change is scary- people are scared to waste time, scared to admit unhappiness, scared to get fired, scared of the uncertain, etc. Most of us are fearful of those things and a great recruiters need to calm that fear. Start by expecting resistance to your call.
Ask great questions– No one likes the recruiter call that sounds like they are ticking their way through the qualification list. Ask open-ended questions of people that draw them out and get them to discuss their careers, their interests, their likes and dislikes and what matters to them. Avoid yes-no questions or questions that they might interpret as seeking competitive intelligence. Remember, this is about them as individuals, not about their company.
Listen– We’ve all heard that saying, “you have two ears and one mouth…” Yet most of us are horrible listeners. Interestingly, when someone listens well they are received by the other person as being a great communicator. Funny that.
Here is the most important one…
Empathize– Remember what you are ultimately doing. If you think you are looking for someone for a job, you will never be a good recruiter. You are not looking for someone for a job. You are suggesting someone change his or her life. Job change is one of the most stressful events in a person’s life. You can mitigate the stress of this by understanding about the person’s current situation and what he/she desires. Can your company or opportunity help her to get there? If yes, know the details well enough to describe them enthusiastically and if no, don’t jerk the person around and waste her time. You need to understand that recruiting is not about you or your client…it is about this candidate, no, this person you are talking to right now. And this person knows it. You better too!
Your skill in doing these things will allow you to great better connections, to make it personal, build better relationships and get better results.
About the author:
Doug founded Valor Partners, a software search firm, in 2002. Valor specializes in building executive teams and in finding business critical marketing and sales talent for growth and start-up companies. Valor also works with companies on Gender-Balance growth strategies and offers a unique Onboarding program. Valor’s ultimate goal is to help companies grow with great talent and to help their clients create successful cultures where people matter.