You don’t close a sale, you open a relationship if you want to build a long-term, successful enterprise.” - Patricia Fripp
Negative stereotypes plague the staffing industry—and, for the most part, they’re justified.
To be clear, I’m not trying to bash my industry. But as someone who’s been in it for decades, I know what makes a bad recruiter, and unfortunately there are a lot of them out there. People tell me all the time about their negative experiences working with other recruiters, how it felt like the recruiter wouldn’t listen to what they wanted or how the recruiter treated them like they weren’t even people but just more commission on a paycheck.
For me, these stories are just as informative as they are irritating because I know what the problem is. I see it all too often in this industry. Some staffers get caught up in this sales-oriented, detached mentality when they lose sight of what recruiting is really about.
Our mission as staffers is supposed to be helping professionals pursue their dream jobs. We’re in the business of people but when you stop treating candidates as real human beings with feelings, passions and dreams—that’s when you become a bad recruiter.
A Lesson in Bad Recruiting
Here’s a staffing scenario: A recruiter gets a job order for an extremely niche role but manages to find the perfect candidate for it. He arranges a time to speak with the candidate. When he calls her, he goes through his usual script, telling the candidate about the role and probing her about her experiences, skills, education, etc. all the essential information he needs.
The candidate then expresses her weariness about the location. The recruiter insists that this opportunity is too good to turn down. Then, he asks her how much she’s getting paid at her current job, asserting that the job he has for her will pay more. He continues to rattle off more details about the role that are totally irrelevant to her original concern.
She gets overwhelmed and finally decides to cut him off with, “I’m sorry, but I’ve got to go. Thanks for letting me know about this opportunity. I need to take some time to think about it. Have a great day.” And that’s that.
Therein lies the root of all these negative stereotypes. Step one in becoming a bad recruiter is failing to listen. Had the recruiter ditched his pitch and created a real rapport with the candidate, things might’ve worked out differently. Instead, he only asked her for the information he needed and then overwhelmed her with details in an effort to persuade her. Seems pretty one-sided, right?
Worse yet, he missed out on the opportunity to address her concern. He should’ve empathized with her, acknowledging how hard it is to make a big move. Maybe he could’ve asked her what she likes about where she’s living now or done some research about the area she would be moving to if she were to take the job. That way, he could tell her what the location has to offer. Anything would’ve been better than diverting from the matter.
The point is he wasted his time and hers by trying to push her into a placement, without treating her like a person. He didn’t learn anything about her that he couldn’t read on her resume.
And do you think she would ever want to work with him again? The answer is a resounding no.
Looking Beyond the Placement
A candidate-staffer interaction should never be a one-way scramble for information. It needs to be a dialogue. Recruiters should appreciate the gravity of their role in helping a person pave their career path. In order to help a candidate find success, they need to know what success means in that person’s eyes.
At ICON, we never forget that there’s a person on the other side of that call. Our recruiters look beyond the placement and aim to build a relationship. A placement is just one chapter in a person’s career, but it’s the relationship that endures.
Candidates come to see our staff as more than recruiters. They become mentors, friends even. In fact, last month our recruiter Mac McDonald attended a gorgeous wedding in Missouri for one of our long-standing physicians.
Good recruiting is about making that connection, first and foremost, and understanding what that candidate is passionate about in their work. Why a person does something is always more important than what they do.
The secret to successful recruiting is knowing that there’s more to a person than what’s on paper.