The Art of Credibility

Recruiters… Go to the closest mirror, take a look ó not a quick look, a good hard look ó and ask yourself this question: Am I credible? I’ll bet most of you answer, “Yes, of course I am.” And some of you are wondering, “Credible with whom?” Okay, let’s run the list:

  • Candidates
  • Hiring Authorities
  • Management
  • Referrers
  • Referrals
  • Peers
  • Prospects
  • People we meet

I guess I’ve pretty much covered it all. That’s right, we as recruiters must establish credibility with all constituents. This is not earth-shattering news; we already knew that. The key is how we establish credibility with so many constituents consistently, or what some refer to as “The Art of Credibility.” Here are a few points to consider. There are more, but these may stimulate some thought and dialogue. Know How To Know Your Business Recruiters have the opportunity to become strategic consultants to the organizations they serve regarding a key asset: talent. In order to step up to the proverbial management table and add value, you must know how to understand the business. Learn the importance of the following questions. Learn how to ask them and then start discussing. You will learn about your business, and in the process, will build credibility with all constituents and become a better recruiter:

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  • What are your company’s goals?
  • What problem does your company solve?
  • What is the size of the problem?
  • What is the value of the solution?
  • What is special about your solution?
  • Who is uses your products and services?
  • Who buys your products and services?
  • What are the total requirements to build, train, deploy, support and resell your solution?
  • How does your company distribute (sell) your solution, product, or service?
  • What must be done to ensure the company goals are met?

I challenge and invite you to sit down with a manager in your company and ask these questions. Get the answers and better understand your business. Most recruiters don’t have MBAs, yet we are tasked in recruiting talent by compelling them to join. Learn how to learn your business. Understand How You Can Help the Company Achieve Its Goals Apply the same questions to your own recruiting service. Whether you’re part of an internal organization or an agency, you must have goals. You must understand the problem you solve, the value of your solution, what makes you special, and so on. Become credible by positioning your value to the company you serve. You as the recruiter must understand the value of the QA Engineer to the current software project, what that means to the next release, and what the release means to the company. If you do, you can position yourself and your company properly to prospective candidates, require the proper assistance and participation from the hiring team, and, if necessary, spend the appropriate investment dollars to ensure the position is filled within an appropriate time. Build credibility by building a credible business plan around your recruitment function. Become Rabid About Recruiting Results Rapid, maniacal, crazed ó you fill in the blanks. The bottom line is, all you must care about is ensuring that the right talent is hired at the right time. That means finding and attracting quality. That means getting the job done. It means that you are a talent manager willing to be accountable for you job. Results, results, results. It’s all that matters, and you, my friends, hold the key! Let everyone know that it’s all you care about. Tell them, all the time. Make the phrase, “All I care about are results that help the company achieve its goals,” and you will become credible. You will be seen as strategic and best of all you will add value to the company. Become a Great at Qualifying Prospective Candidates Ask about and understand a candidate’s role in their current position by asking what their organization’s goals were, as well as how they would define their solution and the role they played in its deployment. Not only will you learn a lot, but you will build credibility with the candidate that will reflect on you and your company. Every candidate should walk away from your office thinking on thing: “Great interview!” You should feel that you’ve learned how the prospect can or cannot help the company achieve its goals. Many times we get in a rut of giving the company benefits line. Although this is important, we must accomplish more in the interview if we want to become strategic and credible talent managers. Use Positive Language To Describe What You Do I go crazy anytime I hear a recruiter use the phrase, “Well, that one just fell through the cracks,” when describing why the candidate did not accept. Candidates with offers don’t fall through cracks. Something happened and we’d better know or find out what it was if we want to be credible. If you’ve heard the phrase, stop the person and work with them to find the answer why. You both will learn something. And if you’ve used it in the past, stop now. You are holding yourself back. Accept that understanding why and learning how means growth. We will all do better next time if we allow ourselves to. And what about all those other constituents? You can’t ask for a referral unless you understand the business. You won’t know that the network call today is to the person the company desperately needs three months from now unless you know the company goals and strategies. You can’t carry on great conversations with people of all ilk at weekend parties unless you understand intimately what your company does. I read an article that got me into this business in 1979. I’ll paraphrase: “The ability to transfer talent from one organization to another will be a necessary vocation in the 1990s and into the next millennium.” It got my attention, and as a result I’ve always taken our industry very seriously. One last suggestion: Read “Leadership and Self-Deception,” by the Arbringer Institute. A friend in the industry suggested it recently and he made me promise I’d read it over the Fourth of July holiday. It may also help you establish credibility ó a good read. In the meantime…great recruiting!

Hank Stringer is CEO of Stringer Executive Search in Austin, Texas. He has three decades of experience as a successful executive recruiter, consultant, author, industry speaker, and entrepreneur in the creation and use of Internet technology for the recruitment process. Contact him at (512) 904-1038 or hank@hankstringer.com. Visit his website at http://www.hankstringer.com.

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