The Human Factor: Cultivating Successful Candidate Relationships

by Katy Shapiro, Recruiting Manager, ACA Talent

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a Recruiting Warehouse where candidates were assembled, perfectly packaged, and delivered to hiring managers in accordance with their preference? Unfortunately, people are not tangible products and each employee brings drastically different strengths and benefits to an organization, in addition to being motivated and measured differently.

So how do we develop a system where we as recruiters, can effectively build our candidates, prepare them for the position, and package them in a way that hiring managers buy into them?

Active listening is the first step. Often, recruiters fall into the habit of delivering the same diatribe about the position and company for which they are hiring before they even know whom they’re speaking to. We need to identify what a potential candidate is looking for in a position or an organization, what’s important to them, and where they see themselves professionally before we can discuss a position with them. Just as you wouldn’t recommend a steak dinner to a vegetarian, you also wouldn’t recommend an engineering position to a librarian.

Once you’ve identified a candidate’s experience and direction, you will be able to begin building the recruiting relationship. Any interpersonal relationship is based on trust and the perceived benefits that two people exchange with each other.

We don’t submit friends to a pre-screen questionnaire or personality testing before we decide to be their friend, but we do interview them. We spend time with them in order to identify similar interests, values, and even look for red flags before investing in the friendship. Candidates are no different. Part of recruiting is utilizing our intuition and natural ability to identify positive “matches” between our clients and our candidates.

As such, we not only need to identify links between the experience of the candidate and the position for which they are being considered,  but also those between the expectations and style of the hiring manager and the candidate’s personality and ability or desire to deliver. This isn’t information that a candidate will volunteer. It comes only after you’ve made them feel comfortable and engendered trust.

This leads to a unique challenge for recruiters and hiring managers as time is money, and they need to identify top talent and potential team members in a very short amount of time. As such, recruiters need to build those connections quickly.

This is where proper “packaging” becomes important. In order for candidates to be attractive to the hiring manager, we must prepare them properly. It is our job to discuss the links or matches between the two and coach the candidate on how to highlight those matches and really brand themselves within the interview in order to help them connect with the hiring manager quickly.  Conversely, just as you would create excitement about the position to the candidate, you should also create excitement about the candidate with the hiring manager by providing details about the candidate that are in direct connection with his/her preferences. You may also advise the candidate to update or reformat their resume in order to highlight connections as well. If a connection is made, sparks will fly and an offer will most likely be presented.

The success of the recruiter/hiring manager partnership relies solely on the ability of the recruiter to present only those candidates that will be attractive to the manager, while eliminating the probability of any “surprise” red flags from arising during the interview.

This is a tall order, but by listening actively, digging deeper into the candidate’s qualifications and determining red flags, and effectively coaching and packaging the candidate, you can fill this order again and again.