Recruiters: Why You Must Be a Trusted Advisor To Job Candidates, Too
A recruiter at a company is tasked with getting the best talent from the market, at the best price. This was a very common understanding of what recruiting was at its most basic level for a very long time. While the first part still holds, everyone can probably agree that times have changed, drastically.
Recruiters must be a trusted advisor to the business. This continues to be a staple of good consultative recruiting. Now add the notion that today an “us and them” approach is the worst one you can take if you want to get the best talent to accept your offer and join your team. While you’ll continue to build relationships with hiring managers and internal stakeholders, you can no longer treat the candidate as anything less. In a competitive market, you must also be a trusted advisor to candidates.
You may be wondering how you can advocate for both sides. Isn’t that usually why everyone gets their own lawyer in a battle? In recruiting it doesn’t have to be that extreme. You truly can negotiate and bargain in good faith for both parties. If you’re not quite convinced yet, here are three important reasons to consider.
1) In a competitive market, you will lose if you’re not seen to be helping the candidate as well as the company. Many organizations are moving to transparent salary ranges, flexible and customized perks, and understanding what candidates want and need on an individual level. Gone are the days you can throw out the lowest offer in the salary range and expect your candidate to be waiting by their phone ready to accept it. Instead, you’re likely one of several offers they will get. Hopefully, you’ll be the one to get a callback with positive news. Don’t get left behind the companies that are putting out their best offers after asking candidates exactly what they want!
2) How you make people feel matters. In a candidate-driven market where there is a labor shortage, you cannot be remembered as the organization that jerked people around, kept them hanging, lowballed them, or anything near that experience. Other companies will move faster, remove barriers, and skip interviews and archaic, outdated testing practices in favor of hiring for attitude, potential, and a growth mindset. Some organizations are moving to same-day offers, and providing positive coaching and feedback throughout the interview and hiring process. A smooth process focusing on transparency, speed, and a lack of hoops candidates must jump through will leave slower companies with mediocre offers in the dust. When a candidate evaluates multiple offers, how they were treated throughout the process will weigh heavily on their final decision. This treatment is a reflection of how a company treats their people. When candidates have options, culture can often be the tiebreaker. Don’t lose on this front because you haven’t cared enough about a candidate’s experience during the hiring process.
3) Money doesn’t win every time – instead, help them win. One of the most important jobs a recruiter has is listening and understanding what the hiring manager is looking for, but equally important, what it will take for the candidate to accept your offer. Passive candidates who are top performers will not leave their current company without a compelling offer, and are likely to receive a counteroffer to stay. For example, if you’ve been listening to the candidate and building rapport, you might think they took your call only because they want more flexibility in their schedule. So if you offer a lot of cash but no flexibility, don’t be shocked when they turn down your 30% pay bump in favor of a four-day work week at their current employer. It’s critical to learn who candidates are and what motivates them – and work to help get them a package they covet.
Candidates will consider your company only if you can offer them something compelling. This is true at all levels of organizations and across all job functions. In the era ahead, with its predicted labor shortages, you’ll have to compete on a variety of fronts. Treating candidates as if they are one of many and should be lucky to hear from you when you’re ready will no longer fly. Many candidates these days have multiple options, and your top talent, who you thought were happy, are resigning before you can blink.
Additional advice and perspective
It’s difficult to recruit because there are so many relationships to manage, and it can be emotional at times. Use that emotion and that human connection to your advantage to help get your candidates what they really desire. That $10K that you absolutely didn’t think you could negotiate for might actually be much less valuable to them than time and course fees for a certification they want. The overall cost might be half, but showing an interest in what they desire and then making it happen matters greatly.
When was the last time you asked a passive candidate who would be perfect for a role at your company what it would take for them to consider making a move? How many times did you actually try to make it happen for them before you got to an offer? Did you think about what they asked for after they ghosted you and wonder why you didn’t just push for them? It’s not always going to work out perfectly. Some candidates surely push the boundaries when they know they are the right fit for the role. If their ask is reasonable, it probably means there is at least a glimmer of interest in what you can offer them, giving you a shot at bringing some amazing talent into your team.
In today’s marketplace, you’ll lose candidates if you don’t advocate for them. Help in any way you can. If that means coaching them on how to ask for more money, time off, paid benefits, development investment, etc., do it. Help them prepare for a potential counteroffer so they feel comfortable saying no to it. Perhaps show them financial projections that help build your case to join your company.
There is so much you can do to show that while you work for a company, you also are on their side. Earning a candidate’s trust, showing that you also can advocate for and advise them, is a competitive edge you will desperately need. Consider how well you’re doing at this today – and the potential you have to do better.
Jeremy Eskenazi is the founder of Riviera Advisors, a boutique talent acquisition optimization consulting firm that specializes in recruitment training and strategy consulting, helping global HR leaders transform how they attract top talent. From best practice recruiting, to improving speed to hire, to candidate experience, the firm is a go-to place for strategic talent advisors. For more information, visit www.RivieraAdvisors.com.
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