By Jeremy Eskenazi.
A recruiter at a company is tasked with getting the best talent from the market at the best price for the company. For a long time, that was a common understanding of recruiting at its most basic level. While the first part still holds, everyone can probably agree that times have changed drastically.
A recruiter must be a trusted advisor to the business; this continues to be a staple of good consultative recruiting. Adding the notion of “us and them” is the worst approach you can use if you want to get the best talent to accept your offer and join your team. While you’ll continue to build relationships with hiring managers and internal stakeholders, you can no longer treat the candidate as anything less. In a competitive market, you must also be a trusted advisor to job candidates.
You may be wondering how you can advocate for both sides. Isn’t that usually why everyone uses their own lawyer in a battle? In recruiting, it doesn’t have to be that extreme, and you truly can negotiate in good faith for both parties. If you’re not quite convinced, here are three reasons why a recruiter should advocate for the candidate, not just the company he or she works for.
First, in a competitive market, you will lose if you’re not seen as helping the candidate. Many organizations are moving to transparent salary ranges, flexible and customized perks, and understanding what candidates want and need on an individual level. Gone are the days when you could throw out the lowest salary and expect a candidate to be waiting by the phone to accept. Instead, the candidate is likely to receive many offers besides yours. But you’re hopeful the candidate calls back with positive news. Don’t get left behind; ask candidates exactly what they want.
Second, remember that it matters how you make people feel. In a candidate-driven market short of labor, you cannot afford to have a candidate remember your organization as one that jerked people around, kept them hanging, lowballed them, and so on. Other companies move faster, remove barriers, and skip interviews and archaic outdated testing practices in favor of hiring for attitude, potential, and a growth mindset. A smooth process, transparency, speed, and a lack of hoops to jump through leaves a slower company with a mediocre offer in the dust. But if the candidate takes time to compare multiple offers, how they were treated throughout the process weighs heavily. It’s a reflection of how a company treats its people. When candidates have options, culture can be a tie breaker. Don’t lose on this front because you don’t care about the candidate experience.
Finally, money doesn’t win every time. One of a recruiter’s most important jobs is understanding what the hiring manager is looking for. But equally important: What will it take for the candidate to accept your offer? Passive candidates who are top performers will not leave their current company without a compelling offer, and they are likely to receive a counteroffer to stay. If you’ve been listening to the candidate and building rapport, you might think that they only took your call because they want more flexibility in their schedule. If you offer a lot of cash but no flexibility, do not be shocked if they turn down your 30% pay bump in favor of a four-day work week at their current employer. It’s critical to learn who candidates are and what motivates them.
Candidates only consider your company if you can offer them something compelling. This is true at all levels and job functions. In an era of predicted labor shortages, you’ll need to compete on a variety of fronts. Treating candidates as if they are one of many and that they should feel lucky to hear from you no longer flies. Candidates these days have multiple options, and top employees you thought were happy may suddenly resign before you can blink.
It’s difficult to recruit because there are so many relationships to manage, and it can be emotional at times. Use that emotion and that human connection to your advantage; help get your candidates what they really desire. Showing an interest in what they desire and helping make it happen matters greatly.
When was the last time you asked a passive candidate you think perfect for a role at your company what it would take for him or her to make a move? How many times did you actually try to make it happen before you got to an offer? It’s not always going to work out perfectly; some candidates push the boundaries if they think they are the right fit. If their request is reasonable, it probably means there is a glimmer of interest in what you can offer them, and you might have a shot at bringing some amazing talent into your team.
In today’s marketplace, you’ll lose candidates if you don’t advocate for them. Help in any way you can. Help them prepare for a potential counteroffer so they feel comfortable saying no. Or show them financial projections that help build your case. There is so much you can do to show that you are on their side.
Earning a candidate’s trust and showing you can advocate for him or her is a competitive edge you desperately need.
Jeremy Eskenazi is the founder of Riviera Advisors, a talent-acquisition consultant specializing in recruitment training and strategy consulting, helping global HR leaders transform how they attract top talent. For more information, visit www.RivieraAdvisors.com.