Does this scenario sound familiar? Your client has handed down a requisition they need you to fill; you start looking through your list of pre-sourced, qualified candidates to contact them about “an amazing opportunity” that’s right in their wheelhouse. Despite having spoken to them before about job placements for them, they either won’t return your calls/emails, or are seemingly uninterested in the opportunity.
So what gives? The fact of the matter is when someone tries to “sell” us on something (whether it be a product, a service, or a job), people tend to be skeptical. And while it’s true that recruiting is fundamentally sales, recruiters often get so hung up on trying to sell a job to a candidate, they fail to focus on a more important aspect of the recruiting process: listening.
Ultimately, successful recruiting hinges on gathering the right info and asking the tough questions, whether it be from your clients or candidates. As such, here are a few tactics for best working with both your clients and candidates, without fixating too much on the sale itself.
Focus on What You Can Control
As much as we may want to be able to control a candidate’s actions, the reality is people are going to do what they want to do. As a recruiter, it’s important to spend your energy concentrating on the aspects of the recruiting process you actually have control over: your time and the information you gather.
When it comes to your time, it’s necessary to evaluate if what you’re doing is actually the best use of your time. When focusing on collecting the right information, it’s good to outline what you’ll need, how to go about getting it, and when/how to use it. Without the proper information about a candidate, client, job, etc., you don’t have the right to suggest a solution—so make sure you have all the pertinent facts before jumping the gun about what a candidate is looking for in their next role.
The Keys to the Close
Working off the last point, when collecting intel, it’s important to always stay current on these six items to ensure you can place any candidate in the role that’s right for them:
- Know the candidate’s motivation for making a move/change (e.g. certain salary band, flexibility, career growth, etc.)
- Current compensation package for the role (including benefits, time-off, 401K, etc.)
- Desired compensation package (know a candidate’s walkaway point—e.g. the lowest salary they’re willing to take, or any missing benefit options)
- Future marketability (the move should improve their overall value)
- Counter-offer (anything their current employer could do to keep them)
- Notice/start date (make sure to keep in contact with both your client and the candidate about these dates)
When seeking out this information, make sure you’re not just an order taker for what your client or the candidate says. Make sure to ask the tough questions and probe deeper where necessary; the more intel you learn up front, the more you can work to eliminate any back-and-forth.
Situations Where You’re More Likely to Find Yourself “Selling”
Truthfully, the desire to “sell” a job is most likely to creep up when we have the least control over a situation; and those instances usually come up when you’re trying to match a candidate with a job/pitch them a role, or when extending an offer. While the outcome of these areas ultimately sits with the candidate, you don’t want to appear desperate or make it look like you’re trying to force the job on them. Instead, utilize the following tactics for each situation:
- Matching/pitching call– Remember all that pertinent information you gained from the section before? When approaching a candidate with an opportunity, feed them back the info they gave you and confirm that it’s still accurate (type of role, compensation requirements, etc.). From there, simply explain the opportunity to them. By starting with what they told you they’re looking for, it will show that you’re really listening to what they want, and not just trying to pitch them any job that comes across your desk.
- Extending the offer– Once your client has offered the role to a candidate, a strategy you can use to help maintain control is to not extend the offer until they have accepted. If you start by reiterating all of the qualifications around the offer they said they wanted (be it growth, salary, etc.), and you’ve built a rapport of trust with the candidate, choosing to withhold the offer information until they’ve accepted the role can be a risky, but rewarding tactic. Either way, even if they decide to pull out, by gathering all the right information and providing the candidate with what they said they wanted, you’ve set the stage so that it’s done on your terms.
At the end of the day, you as the recruiter must acknowledge what a candidate is looking for, clarify any unclear details about the job, and suggest action to make a successful placement. Once you’ve asked the right questions, you be in a position to solve for your client’s talent needs and the candidate’s desire to shift into a new role.
Source: Ideas presented by John Ruffini (industry trainer and author) at Staffing World 2018 via his “If You’re Selling, You’re Doing It Wrong—Focus on What You Control” workshop.