The era of ‘digital disruption’ began in the early 2000s and has transformed the way companies do business and communicate with employees and customers, and the recruiting industry is no exception. It’s no secret technology has changed the way staffing agencies find, connect with and recruit new talent.
But even with all the technological advancements and digital disruption that has driven major changes in the industry, the fundamentals of recruiting still remain the same. Once you sift through all the new recruiting best practices and buzzwords – social and mobile recruiting, employee branding, boolean, big data, etc. – you realize the skills you need to be successful today are the same skills recruiters needed 10, 20, 50 years ago. Understand and apply these five fundamentals of recruiting, and you’ll be relevant and successful in any era.
- Listen First. Talk Second. This old maxim has been a part of sales and recruiting trainings since the beginning, and yet, so many recruiters don’t do it well. Recruiting is a fiercely competitive business, which can lead recruiters sell, sell, sell without first understanding what the employers and candidates really want. If you find yourself talking more than the hiring manager and/or the candidate, you’re doing something wrong. Understanding the details of the position and what the employer wants are critical to finding the ideal candidate. It starts with asking the right questions and carefully listening to the responses. Conversely, when you find your ideal candidate, start with a conversation about their wants, needs, skills and experience before trying to sell them on the job. Strong listening skills lead to truly understanding the position and successfully matching it with the right candidate.
- Just Do It. Whether communicating with the hiring manager about challenges in filling the position, cold calling candidates, submitting a candidate or delivering bad news, just do it. Every recruiter needs to have a level of fearlessness that allows them “get it done” without waiting for all the stars to align perfectly. Do not let all the tools you have at your disposal today (LinkedIn, Job Boards, Message Centers, etc) be an excuse not to pick up the phone, be passive, or continuously search for perfection before action. While these tools may enable you to have better conversations, they are not substitutes for them.
- Ask Tough Questions. This goes hand in hand with #2. Don’t be afraid to ask tough questions. Both your clients and your candidates need to be prepared to answer them, so they might as well start with you. Even if it’s uncomfortable, these questions can reveal truths about the candidate, the job or your client that are not immediately apparent and save you from some embarrassment down the road. You need to know what your candidate did during the six month gap on their resume, or why your client’s previous two employees left the position quickly.
- You Do You. You’re not going to click well with every candidate, every agency and every hiring manager. Not everyone is going to like you. Part of being a successful a recruiter is finding and embracing your own unique style. What works for other top producers may not necessarily work for you. You don’t have to use the newest tools or embrace the latest trends to be successful if they don’t enhance your strengths. The best recruiters play to their strengths, own their style, and look for ways to improve and develop their skills every day.
- Be Someone Worth Knowing (SWK). Advice from recruiting legend Lou Adler. We covered this in a previous post, but being an SWK means embodying the key fundamentals of recruiting: building lasting relationships, earning trust, being knowledgeable, and delivering results. This has nothing to do with how well you use today’s “shiny new object” or how up you are on the latest recruiting trends and everything to with possessing skills that are useful in any decade, any market, any industry. When you reach SWK status, clients, candidates and opportunities pursue you.
This post is not to say new technology hasn’t been a game-changer in the recruiting industry or that recruiters shouldn’t learn about and take advantage of it. It’s just a reminder to not lose sight of the simple fundamentals of good recruiting. As french author Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr famously stated, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.”