The Truth of It: Why Trust is Essential in Recruiting

We can talk about recruitment innovations, insider tactics, and new search strategies as much as we want, but this doesn’t change the fact that without effective communication and time dedicated to building good relationships, there would be no success in recruiting. However, before we can achieve this, we need one thing: trust.

As Stephen Covey, author of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, said: “Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.”

If you think that the only reason to cultivate trust is to attract clients and candidates, you should rethink your position as a recruiter right now. High-quality recruitment involves much more than building databases and making hundreds of phone calls. In order for a recruiter to successfully match candidates with jobs, they need to be invested in the candidates they screen. Reading about a candidate on LinkedIn or scouring their CV will only reveal so much. To effectively evaluate a candidate’s skills and suitability for a job, you need to be able to convince them to share this information with you.

This is where trust comes in.

A report by the Interaction Associates found that one of the most significant bases for trusting others is through experience and expertise, or through having shared goals.

We can readily apply this to the relationship between candidate and recruiter. Good communication can ensure that each party is confident in the experience or expertise of the other. The shared goal of finding a successful match for the candidate and the employer is what it’s all about.

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However, as Todd Raphael says, convincing employees and candidates to trust in an employer in today’s society is not always an easy task. It’s very difficult to rebuild trust when a candidate comes into a recruitment agency already mistrustful of the world around them. Unfortunately, there are a number of unethical practices that take place in recruitment, just as unethical practices can take place in any industry. The worst part is that these cowboys are not only ruining their own reputation, but they are in danger of tarnishing the industry as a whole.

When selecting a recruiter to represent you, either as a job candidate or a company, it is therefore extremely important to ensure that you are collaborating with a reputable recruiter. My advice is to look for recruiters who have years of experience in the industry and have established a strong online presence. Check for online reviews and evaluate any negative feedback you find. Ask for recommendations from colleagues in your industry; they may have good experiences with recruiters in your niche.

Recruiters who are still relying on sending our generic messages to potential candidates and posting vague job descriptions are not performing at the top of their game. While many of these recruiters may be genuine, candidates need to be provided with something more solid than this in order to lend their trust. Social media remains a good channel for recruiters to communicate with candidates, but only when used correctly. Remember that people want to speak to people on social media, so be human and be personable in your recruiting.

At the end of the day, the truth of it is that a high quality recruitment firm can not be run without trust. Start out on the right foot and continue to build trust and it will pay off for everyone involved.


5 Comments on “The Truth of It: Why Trust is Essential in Recruiting

  1. Everyone wants a technical solution where you pay money, push a button, and get a result. Failing that, they want something described quantitatively so questions answer themselves. What most people don’t want is talk about flow, and auspices, and feelings, and probabilistic outcomes from one-off situations. By and large, we are making technical progress on many fronts. Recruiting (of high value positions) is not immune to these technical gains, but I expect it to be a late frontier.

    PS, there are a lot of Cowgirls out there doing their thing too…Recruiting is about paydirt. The 1 yard line don’t get it done. The skills that get to the end-zone are self-validating, regardless to the reputation of the business…hence the reputation of the business, which will always be bad.

    When people talk about the oldest profession, they are forgetting one….obviously.

  2. Once employers start offering something more solid, I’ll offer it to candidates. Recruiters, especially those in agencies, only have so much control over the process, and since labor is more and more seen as a disposable commodity rather than an investment, companies will rarely value their existing employees, much less their candidates. Until then the value I’ll offer my candidates is to give them as realistic an appraisal of the company they’re going in to as possible, and these days that’s rarely rosy or all that positive. But, that is how I get trust, by being honest. Since recruiting is dominated by ‘sales’ types though, who think endless talking and phone calls can reshape reality, and whose focus is driven by commissions and nothing else, there will be problems. As long as a requisition from a company with a 1.5 glassdoor rating is seen as the same as one from a five star employer of choice whose earned that reputation, ‘recruiting’ and recruiters will always have trouble gaining trust.

  3. Trust is great, but may now be out of reach in many situations, such that recruiting based on trust may be a thing of the past. It’s hard to imagine what else corporations could have done during the past 30 years under the influence of “shareholder value” ( ) to reduce the likelihood that any intelligent person would “trust” a company or its financially incentivized representative (e.g., downsize, offshore, wage freeze, underfunded or abandoned pensions, pollution, avoid corporate taxes, etc.). Trust is born out of altruism or benevolence (I.e., Golden Rule of Benevolence), whereas the management of many companies have found great pride in replacing this once-effective cultural force with market-based reciprocity (i.e., Silver Rule of Reciprocity), which in turn calls for the recruiter to demonstrate to candidates in observable ways that a job/role has high potential for intrinsic and economic value (i.e., show me what a great opportunity you say it is). [For more on Golden and Silver rules, see – ]. At best, trust may be the outcome of a recruiter having done the hard work of fitting a candidate into a job/role worthy of their individual interests and capabilities. And every placement that results in premature turnover only chips away at whatever trust is built. Let’s hope the best tool a recruiter has is not just the line, “Trust me.”

    1. Anytime a recruiter starts babbling about “opportunity,” run for the hills. Opportunity is what they sell when there’s nothing else to sell, the position is invariably at a crappy company with crappy pay and crappy benefits. There may be an exception to that, I have NEVER seen one in my entire career. And, usually this ‘opportunity’ was attempted by several people before you. So, if you don’t feel inclined to run, always ask how many people have tried to partake in this ‘opportunity’ prior to you, and if it’s so wonderful why does it pay such a pathetic salary, and why is the company’s glassdoor rating (usually) below 2?

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