Every time I talk to people who have recently sought new jobs, I am amazed at how poorly recruiters have treated them. Yesterday, I spoke with a friend who is highly respected, highly placed in a major organization, and one of the top 15 or so performers I know. He recounted his recent experiences with a corporate recruiter. The recruiter called him based on a referral. However, she had done no research on him at all. She did not know how highly respected he is nor that he had in-depth experience. Her questioning was basic and simplistic, and she didn’t have any insight into the position – just the job description provided by the hiring manager.
After talking to my friend for awhile, she told him that he probably wasn’t right for the job because he had not previously worked in the same industry, and that was a prerequisite for this position. This came after 20 minutes of conversation in which this was never mentioned, and came despite his 20 years of experience, reputation, and solid credentials. A lack of recruiting skill results in tremendous inefficiencies and higher costs. It means many good candidates are not seriously considered, and many others decide not to go forward. It means that too many candidates are screened before a suitable one is found, and that too many unsuitable ones are interviewed and rejected. While unskilled recruiters in an agency environment don’t last very long, they seem to do well in corporate recruiting, in which standards are lower and no one is paid for being efficient.
I find that few organizations have ever systematically asked for or collected feedback on recruiter behavior and style from candidates, whether successful or not at getting a job. In fact, I’m pretty sure if we were to run a nationwide poll about what job seekers and candidates think about most corporate recruiters, I think it would amount to an indictment of our profession. Job descriptions often fail to differentiate one job from another. Many recruiters do not understand the position they are recruiting for, and many recruiters just check off a list of requirements filled out by a hiring manager. That hiring manager may not really know what his or her top performers need to have as competencies and also lack insight into the talent marketplace.
Technology, websites, and solid assessment tools can increase the chances of finding and hiring a successful candidate, but nothing replaces skilled recruiters in creating excitement in a candidate, in building authenticity, and in finding and overcoming the candidates’ objections. The bottom line is that when we treat candidates poorly, ask simplistic questions, fail to understand what motivates them and what they are really seeking, and have untrained recruiters working the phones, we lose good candidates and create a very bad image of the organization. Here are six ways to quickly change this picture:
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5 Ways to Hire Like It’s 2021
- Collect feedback from candidates on the recruiting process. Find out what they thought about the recruiter. Ask them if they were asked questions that they felt would discriminate a qualified candidate from an unqualified candidate. Find out if the recruiter had done any research on their backgrounds or qualifications. Get an assessment of friendliness, authenticity, and politeness. Give each recruiter his or her results, and assign a mentor or coach to recruiters to help them develop better skills. This should be correlated with each recruiter’s success in closing candidates and on how well his or her hires do and how long your recruiters stay in your organization.
- Be sure all recruiters have had training in communicating and negotiating with hiring managers. The only way that a position should be opened is after a recruiter has had the opportunity to deeply discuss the position with the hiring manager and perhaps with an incumbent. All requirements should be verified and double-checked for their necessity, as each one will potentially disqualify a good candidate. Requirements that can often be challenged include years of experience, GPA, college major, and previous industry experience. Recruiters need to learn how to push back and challenge and how to offer alternative suggestions. The recruiter should have a short, carefully thought-out list of requirements, competencies, and experience for each position and hiring manager. Each item should be objectively defensible and be a predictor of performance.
- Recruiters need to deeply understand the talent market and be able to show the facts and figures to hiring managers about what the local market is like. How many openings are there for a similar position? Who else is hiring for the same positions? How difficult is it to find qualified people?
- Sourcing should be primarily from relationships and talent pools that the recruiter has developed over time. By using relationship tools such as Jobster or LinkedIn, along with email and other communication tools, recruiters can reduce the number of completely unknown candidates to a minimum. I propose a new metric for recruiters: number of hires made from candidates whom something was known about for at least three months before the hire. I believe that the longer and more you know a candidate, the less likely either of you are to make a mistake in the placement.
- While I believe that assessment testing is a better way to discriminate one candidate from another, every recruiter should have completed one or more courses in behavioral or structured interviewing. They should also be trained and skilled in probing into critical areas and getting the information they and the hiring manager will need to select one candidate over another.
- And, they need to know how to close the candidate and overcome objections. I encourage recruiters to take courses in selling and to aggressively build up their ability to close candidates, find out what candidates really want, and how to overcome objections. Losing a candidate after many weeks of courtship should happen rarely.
Candidates are frustrated. They are now, more than ever, difficult to find and convince to work for us. Trust and building a relationship are essential. Organizations that implement this level of recruiter training will usually win the candidate they want, and, even when they don’t, will always win their respect. In a talent-short market, inefficiency is costly and is bad business.