I have a young friend that is a recruiter (with limited experience) that at least 4 times a year buys me lunch and hammers me for information on being a better recruiter. He seems to think because I have clients that work with only me and candidates that tell me everything that I am a f******g legend (his words, not mine). I am no legend – just pretty good as any recruiter should be with over 20 years experience.
The last time we got together I asked him: “What three questions can I answer for you that will most help you in gaining the knowledge you need to take your practice to the next level or higher”.
Here are his three questions:
1. How do you go about prospecting for candidates?
2. What is your best approach to contact candidates and start the foundation for a strong relationship?
3. How can I map out my practice to candidates I’ve never met to show them I am different from other recruiters?
These would not be my three questions, but to him they seemed very important. I found it interesting that all his questions were concerning relationships with candidates. My initial reaction to his questions was one of surprise, as I see candidates as just one of the core parts of any recruiting business and would have asked about engaging potential clients also.
My answer to each question:
How do you go about prospecting for candidates?
1. I pick up the telephone and start talking to people. I start with my contacts in that field and move closer to the actual people who have the qualifications necessary.
What is your best approach to contact candidates and start the foundation for a strong relationship?
1. Every person you talk with or meet as a potential candidate is a potential client. Everyone. Maybe not today, but at some time in the future. You treat every person you talk with or meet as if they are going to be your client. You find out as much as you can about them as a candidate to see if they are a fit for your current client, always remembering that they could be a client in the future. I try to never burn bridges. If I am referred to someone who is not a fit for my search assignment – or someone who is – I circle back to the referer, thank them and let them know my thoughts regarding the fit with my current client. I always keep the person I am talking to in the front of my mind because talking to them is the most important action I am doing at that time. I also write short handwritten thank you notes to everyone that has referred someone to me, whether they worked out for any client or not.
2. The reverse of this is that every potential client you talk with could be a potential candidate some day. So all of the above would hold true when approaching potential clients.
How can I map out my practice to candidates I’ve never met to show them I am different from other recruiters?
1. Truly, this question blows my mind. If you have to take time to explain that you or your firm is different from the 100+ others firms/recruiters that called that day you have already lost. You show that you are different by being different – consistently. By asking intelligent, business related questions, by not asking “recruiter” questions. By asking questions about their goals, their plans, their desires, their life plans. By being courteous. By showing an interest in them instead of showing an interest in you. I let people I talk with know that I am interested in them and what interests them. I am an afterthought; they are the main reason I am talking with them and I let them know the conversation is about them, not me. If they have questions about me and my practice I answer them, but I keep the conversation revolving around them.