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Recruiters: Can you answer THIS question?

As part of one of the ongoing themes of The Armchair HR Manager, I like to blog frequently about recruiting and all things talent acquisition. My writing, while often focused on Recruiters and HR Professionals, also tends to have messaging focused on job seekers as well. You see, I firmly believe that in order for the job seeker/recruiter relationship to work well, both parties need to be on a level playing field. That is, both parties are as transparent as possible with each other, as this helps promote candidate credibility and recruiter/organizational branding.

Recruiter QuestionIn order for recruiters to establish credibility as trust agents (credit to Chris Brogan for this term) of their organizations (whether they are in-house or third party recruiters) they need to first build trust with job candidates. A major step in doing this is to properly understand the position you are trying to fill. You don’t have to be a technical expert on the role but you do need to understand what it is you are recruiting for (so you can convey and evaluate) so you can explain to candidates what the expected performance outcomes are for the position, how success will be measured and how the role fits within the organizational structure. This knowledge will also help you to close, but more on that later.

Savvy job seekers will ask these types of questions in interviews (above), so recruiters, you better be prepared with the answers! With all of the focus on “passive” candidates these days (although I am not convinced that passives are the Holy Grail for recruiters) and the much improved job market, many recruiters are finding the scales tipping a bit in terms of the balance of power. That is, many job seekers are more informed, more patient and more selective than they ever have been. So recruiters really need to up their game to compete and land the best candidates.

For me, there is one very important question that recruiters must be able to answer in order to keep a top candidate engaged in their recruiting campaign. As mentioned before, the savvy job seeker will ask this key question EVERY time they interview and HOW the recruiter answers it will influence the candidate’s continued interest and involvement with the position for which they are being interviewed for.

The question is pretty straight forward: “Why should I come and work for your company/client? “ In essence, this where the recruiter demonstrates that they have been listening to the candidate so as to determine what is causing them to look for other employment, what their motivators are for making a change and what their job acceptance factors are. If they have truly been actively listening, the recruiter, vis-à-vis answering this question, can now sell/close the candidate on the job opportunity.

Let’s be clear, the “answer” to this question is not things like:

  • Free parking, free coffee, etc.
  • Great location
  • Great/fun co-workers
  • Vacation policy
  • Flexible Hours
  • Social events/social committee
  • “Good” pay and benefits

I think you get the point. Those are all “nice” things that can help define your culture, but for many candidates they are just perks. What the candidate wants to know, and what the recruiter needs to show, is that there is a potential match here for things like:

  • Ability to greater utilize their skills (which are perhaps very underutilized where they are now)
  • Opportunity to work on projects that provide them with a greater/different scope (i.e. as Project Manager)
  • Enhanced opportunities for professional development which may also include the opportunity to obtain a designation (PMP, P.Eng, CHRP, SPHR, CPA, etc.)
  • Opportunity to be mentored by a more senior professional
  • Greater alignment between their personal demands and work life
  • Greater career path for them – whether horizontally or vertically

There are many more “good” answers to this question, but you can clearly see the difference between rhyming off a bunch of work perks to a candidate vs. providing a deeper response(s) that align(s) with their professional goals. At the end of the day, that is what good recruiters can do – align the brand, culture and selling features of the organization with the candidates professional goals. So as recruiters, next job opening you are trying to fill, make sure you can answer that very important question. If you can’t, you have some homework to do. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of Idea go/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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