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What separates good from great in the recruiting world

Back in January of 2013, I wrote about the top 5 attributes of exceptional recruiters.  I cited things like working with a sense of urgency, ability to downstream candidates and being reachable as key attributes that recruiters need to possess.  In hind sight, I probably shouldn’t have shot for such a superlative (exceptional) but my thinking was this, I have seen such a gap in skill sets among recruiters that those who had those attributes stood out in my mind as being “exceptional.”  Maybe I should have simply described those recruiters that work with a sense of urgency, downstream their candidates and communicate well as being “good.”  I mean, at the end of day, if you can’t do those things well, than you probably shouldn’t be in the business!  So what truly makes a GREAT recruiter, or better yet, what do the very best, the “expert” or “exceptional” recruiters do?

RecruiterThe very best recruiters use the telephone – yes, I know that everyone knows how to “use” the phone, what I am getting at is that they use it as the #1 tool in their toolbox.  They are skilled and adept at picking up that phone and sourcing and closing candidates.  They don’t rely on email as their main communication tool.  The very best recruiters also have that uncanny ability to know when to pick up the phone and touch base with a candidate that is going through the recruitment funnel – whether it is to provide reassurance that they are still moving through the process or perhaps to keep them on the “hook” after having accepted an offer so that they are not influenced by a counter offer.  Either way, it is almost like a 6th sense or super power that they possess!

The best leverage social media – of course in today’s social media driven world, great recruiters need to be skilled at utilizing social media to enhance their digital footprint and enhance their professional “brand.”  No, you don’t have to be an expert on every platform; however great recruiters are skilled at utilizing LinkedIn to find great candidates.  (It doesn’t even have to be the Recruiter platform).  They know how to leverage the power of joining and participating in Linkedin groups, they are adept at providing content to these groups and balancing this vs. just putting up job postings. They also know how to run a company page, take advantage of Linkedin’s search functionality and provide their own relevant updates that will drive traffic to their profile.  The very best also have a Twitter presence – they are adept at creating and sharing relevant content so as to enhance their overall SoMe (social media) presence.  Lastly, the very best typically augment all their recruiting efforts through some sort of writing/blogging effort.  They may write content for a Linkedin page, a company/corporate website or perhaps their own blog.  One of the very best at doing this is Tim Sackett – he runs his own blog, The Tim Sackett Project – in addition to running his own recruiting company.  His witty, cutting writing style drives a lot of  interested readers to his blog and overall it enhances his SoMe presence and his “position” as a subject matter expert in the recruiting and HR fields.

Know how to conduct a Boolean search – at the risk of making this blog post a lesson in Boolean searching, all I will say about this topic is that if you are a recruiter and DON’T know what a Boolean search is or don’t know how to run one, then you need to find out how.  Check out Glen Cathey’s blog, Boolean Black Belt, to find out more – you will be glad you did!  This ability truly separates good from great in the recruiting world.

Act as a consultant – whether you work for a 3rd party search firm or a corporate recruiting team, the great recruiters act as recruiting consultants.  They aren’t simply order takers that then march out into the field of battle to find the latest purple squirrel.  Recruiting consultants engage in dialogue with their clients to ensure proper expectations are set and that the recruiting campaign maintains ongoing alignment with these expectations.  Roadblocks, obstacles and delays need to be discussed in a consulting (solutions focused) manner.  Recruiting consultants also coach and guide their clients through the process at all times so that they keep campaigns on track and obtain repeat business.

Finally, the great recruiters are salespeople at heart.  Let’s not try and fool anyone here and call recruiting an HR role.  It may report into HR, which is fine, but it isn’t an HR role.  Great recruiters are great sales people.  They know how to open dialogue, identify a problem and apply a solution, overcome objections, negotiate and finally, CLOSE.  Recruiting is sales through and through – in this case, it is the selling of talent that solves an organizational problem.  The great recruiters know this – which is why/how they seperate themselves from good recruiters.  Their talent lies in the ability to overcome objections, negotiate and close.

So, there you have five key differentiators they separate good from great recruiters.  Feel free to use it as an acid test to compare where you or your team are/is in this spectrum.  The good news for the good recruiters is that all of these areas can be learned/coached and you can become great yourself – as long as you are a recruiter at heart and not an HR Pro in disguise!

What do you think?  In your experience, do these five areas capture recruiting greatness?  Do you have anything to add?  Any disagreements?  As always, I welcome your comments and feedback

Image courtesy of SOMMAI/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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The “other” Strategic HR Partnership

There have been a lot of articles and blog posts over the past two plus years that highlight the importance of HR formulating strategic partnerships with Finance. Most of these articles focus on why HR needs to be a “strategic business partner” and in order to be effective, they list why HR needs to partner with Finance in particular (i.e. the CFO). This is so that HR can understand “the numbers” interpret “big data” and show the “ROI” on their HR programs, etc. I do agree with this position completely and feel that an effective relationship between these two departments is essential for organizational success.

I do, however, feel there is another really critical (and sometimes overlooked) relationship that HR should be focusing on as well. That is, the relationship that HR has with Sales (and by sales, I am not just referring to Marketing. This relationship, while often overlooked, can actually formulate quite the strategic partnership. When you think about it, the two depts. have very similar interests. Sales wants to promote the organization’s brand (as it pertains to its products and services) and HR wants to promote the organization’s employment brand. Sales is in the business of attracting new customers while HR is in the business of attracting new/potential employees. Sales focuses a lot on branding and communication to an external audience; HR has the same responsibilities except with the added focus on an internal (current employees) base. The key is to find ways to marry up these shared interests and work together to leverage the strengths of the two departments.

HandshakeWhat you typically see in organizations is Sales and HR go about their business as two mutually exclusive entities, perhaps even rarely, if ever, crossing paths. When you think about it though, that is quite bizarre. It has been my experience that collectively, Sales and HR can formulate a pretty solid partnership. It can begin with something as innocuous as say, the development or rebranding of a trade show booth. Sales and HR should be aligned in how trade show booths and recruiting booths look, ‘feel’ and appeal to their audiences. The overall look, feel and messaging should be in complete alignment with the organization’s brand messaging. Sales and HR need to be aligned on what the brand actually is that they are trying to portray – both overall and the employment brand. At the end of the day, when you are recruiting candidates, a huge part of the candidate” sell” is leveraging the sales messaging/content and aligning it with your employment brand. The beauty of this synergy is that when you make it work, you will find out that Sales, which often has a much greater budget than HR, will front a lot of your collateral cost and help you with the promotion of the material!

Another way (reason) that Sales and HR can and should be partnering is on the development and promotion of your company LinkedIn page. I have blogged about company pages before in terms of how to make your company page effective, but the collaboration between Sales and HR is essential to making it effective. Sales has a vested interest in the company page as it is essentially a showcase of the company’s products and services. With Sales and HR partnering, the company page can have a uniform look and feel – one that aligns with sales and recruiting collateral and that portrays the organizational brand (inc. the employment brand). Sales can be the driving force behind providing relevant content in the areas in which the company is expanding, recent sales wins, new sales alliances, etc.

Both HR and Sales should be looking to use the LinkedIn company page for communication and recruitment purposes. Sales wants the company page to be promotable, appealing and drive action, all of which is done by having relevant content. This in turn will allow the company page to become a landing page for prospective customers, business inquiries, referrals and recommendations. HR’s role is to partner here and expand on this content to make sure it appeals to both prospective candidates and to your internal employees. That way, your page (and its content) gets shared, you foster internal and external communication and your Talent Brand Index grows. Bottom line – the partnership with Sales is a win-win, it just might take a bit of convincing for Sales to get on board!

At the end of the day, my advice to you is to not forget about that ‘other’ strategic HR partnership, so reach out to your Sales Director and get that relationship moving forward. Align your common goals and communication strategy – the LinkedIn company page is a great place to start this and have these common goals working together. As always, I welcome your comments and feedback.

Image courtesy of stockimages/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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