Depending on your role in the hiring process, you may think even though the employee lifecycle hasn’t changed much since you began your career, that recruiting hasn’t either – but you’d be in for a rude awakening.
For most of us, the talent we need is scarce. We’re no longer operating in a seller’s market when it comes to job opportunities. In this age of instant information, that highly-skilled talent for which you’re looking can have (literally) millions of jobs at their fingertips.
Making your job the golden ring for which top talent reaches requires that your recruiters have a real talent for selling the job, and for thinking of your candidates as customers.
To your customers, you’re selling a product. To a candidate, your company is that product. That means recruiters and sales/marketers actually have very similar jobs: to demonstrate that a product is interesting and unique by communicating effectively what the product is and inspiring interest in it.
Believe it or not, before your recruiter schedules their first call, your candidate already knows a lot more about the attributes of your company than you can imagine and, for that matter, the type of work they want to do and know they could be doing there. You might equate them to today’s consumers who, studies say, are over 57% of the way through the buying cycle before they even contact a company’s sales representative.
With this in mind, recruiters need to be armed with more than a list of benefits and hollow descriptions of the job or the environment. They need solid sales tools and techniques.
One of the most effective is a technique I like to call the “3 Rs” of recruiting:
1. Relate: Make recruiting relational vs. transactional
If social media has taught us anything, it’s that people love to connect and build relationships with a company recruiter (people are social beings). It is now more important than ever for a recruiter to relate authentically and on a personal level.
Brands are built on trust. Just like consumers, job seekers are inundated with information about products just like yours. That highly-sought talent you’re interested in has exposure to lots of information about your company — enough to form an opinion in a fraction of a second.
Companies who can genuinely connect with their audiences and community of supporters will have a strategic advantage over those who don’t. Jobseekers desire a more emotional connection with the companies they want to consider for employment. If they are receiving 5-10 InMail messages per day – and many are – any impersonal or stock communication you put forward is going to put your opportunity in the also-ran column.
2. Reflect: What is it that your candidate really wants to know?
Many job seekers have already done their research on the company and connect with the recruiters to learn how different the new opportunity would be from their existing position. A novice recruiter will respond to this inquiry by giving the job description details and then waiting for the candidate to say they will consider the opportunity. A better approach is to reflect on the value of the work they will be performing compared to that of their existing role and expose the benefits of working for a hiring manager who is top in their industry.
For example: “I see you’re asking directly about the type of work you will be performing. It sounds like you’ve done your homework. I believe you will be a great fit for this hiring manager. Did you know that he/she is looking to attract candidates who have chemical backgrounds, but are willing to apply that knowledge to water/air/soil quality, chemical hygiene, laboratory safety? Let me share with you some examples of that in action…”
3. Reject: - Dismiss any thought of yourself as an “order taker.”
Chances are, you know more than a few recruiters who treat sourcing and recruiting as a way to “fill an order.” Their actions may impact offer-to-hire statistics, but little else, and their candidates feel the same level of “trust” as if their resume came through the applicant tracking system – no sales skills required.
These recruiters fail to recognize that techniques that worked on active prospects or in an employer-driven market will not work when you have to seek out and convince high-demand (and usually already employed) individuals to consider your jobs.
Applicants who need a job don’t require a relationship or any wooing to come on board. But prospects who are in high demand (and who already have a job) are quite the opposite. They require a relationship that builds trust merely to get them to apply. The majority of the offers accepted by these passive candidates have been closed by relational recruiting techniques like these “3 Rs.”
Changing a career is an emotional, high-investment experience. It’s like buying a major ticket item—we look to sales people for affirmation that this is a purchase we won’t regret. The good sales people do this by connecting with us, reflecting our values and needs, and respecting our power in this transaction by rejecting an “order-taking” approach.
Training your organization’s recruiters and hiring managers to instill excitement and relevancy into their engagements with candidates is step one. To stay competitive for talent, you’ll need to ensure you have the highest-quality recruiters possible – recruiters who are exceptional brand advocates and experts at selling difficult-to-convince candidates. Be sure to start now, because just like other highly-skilled professions out there, the demand for excellent recruiters will soon far outpace the supply.