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Recruiting and the Art of Push vs. Pull

Followers of The Armchair HR Manager will recall that back in early January, I blogged about the “5 Attributes of Exceptional Recruiters.” Since then, I have received numerous inquiries and questions asking me to further expand on this topic. I figured since so many people were asking, it was worth another blog post on the topic! A lot of the dialogue I had with colleagues after the blog post went up centered on how lacking these skill sets are/were in many recruiters today – both in-house and agency. When I take a 2nd look at what makes a successful recruiter, setting aside sourcing and sales/negotiation skills (as a given), I think what fundamentally separates good from great recruiters is their communication skills. Now I know for many of you this may seem obvious but I am not referring to things like the ability to communicate effectively verbally and in written form (although that is sorely lacking as well!) What I am getting at is how a recruiter “owns” communication during the recruiting process.

PushBased on my experience running recruiting shops and HR departments, the very best recruiters have an innate ability to “own” communication during the recruiting cycle – both with the hiring manager and with the candidate. They do so by utilizing a “push” approach vs. “pull” when it comes to communicating to all parties. The best recruiters are those that push communication to hiring managers in the form of candidate updates, potential obstacles, “gateways” that been successfully passed during the hiring process (i.e. pre-employment testing) and they are able to create a sense of urgency with the hiring manager so as not to lose the best candidates. By employing a push strategy, these recruiters instill a sense of confidence with their clients as they are showing that they are on top of things. They also push communications with their candidates by keeping them in the loop when hiring managers are delayed in their decision making. They find reasons to contact candidates on a regular basis in order to continue to create those communication touch points. This allows for greater rapport building with candidates and it also prevents a recruiter from being blindsided by the candidate coming forward and saying they have another offer. Great recruiters know when and where their candidates are during the hiring process for both jobs they are staffing for and for other positions the candidate is applying for.

By utilizing this push strategy, the recruiter provides the hiring manager with a sense of confidence that everything is under control during the hiring process, in essence they bring a sense of calmness that all is under control. They also give the hiring manager an opportunity to address/respond to obstacles that may interfere with a potential hire (i.e. salary, start date, counter offers, etc.) and are able to effectively partner to remove those obstacles whenever possible. In the ideal world, hiring managers would own more of this process and be accountable for timely decision making; however, the reality is that for many recruiters and organizations this just isn’t the case. That is why, in order to be successful, the best recruiters take ownership of this and make themselves personally accountable for pushing the communication and decision-making process. In essence, they force-feed all the data points to the hiring manager as they press towards a close with the candidate and the manager.

Conversely, the pull approach, as you can imagine, is the complete opposite. Without going point by point, this is simply a case where the hiring manager is the one reaching out to the recruiter to find out where their candidate is in the process, asking why they aren’t hired yet and trying to ascertain what else needs to be done to get that person onboard. The best recruiters have regular check-ins with hiring managers to keep them apprised of their progress, thereby eliminating the need for a manager to even need to pull communication from a recruiter. I have seen far too many cases where a recruiter allows communication to dwindle between themselves and a hiring manager because they had not been receiving any feedback/responses from the manager re. candidates, etc. Recruiters then tend to leave it up to the manage to get back to them, unfortunately, unbeknownst to the recruiter, things suddenly take a magical urgent turn and the manager is left wondering where their candidate is and why they aren’t hired yesterday! The solution – be proactive and push communication! That is what separates the best from all the rest.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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