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Recruitment Leadership: 4 Critical Steps for Becoming a Recruiting Leader

by | Dec 16, 2021 | Recruiter Training

Recruitment leadership as a professional recruiter or executive search consultant is all about two things: trust and confidence.

We’re talking about trust and confidence with both your candidates and your clients. The problem is that trust and confidence are difficult to build and quite easy to destroy. Ah, but if becoming a recruiting leader was easy, then everybody would be able to do it.

Actually, if being a recruiter period was easy, then everybody would do it. But I digress . . .

Best practices for becoming a recruiting leader

To help us investigate the best practices for becoming a recruiting leader, we’re going to enlist the expertise of recruiting trainer and speaker Scott Love of The Attorney Search Group. According to Scott, trust is a byproduct of rapport and rapport is a byproduct of common areas of interest.

“So it seems like all we have to do to win the trust of candidates and clients is to develop a rapport with them,” he said. “All we have to do to develop rapport is to find things that we have in common.”

Once again, that sounds easy. However, if it was easy, then everybody would be doing it, and clearly not everybody is doing it.

“But if this is so easy in theory, how come most recruiters come across as slick and pushy on the phone with their candidates and clients?” said Scott. “Why is it that most candidates and clients feel like they’re being manipulated, controlled, and pressured into doing whatever the recruiter wants them to do?”

According to Scott, if you push somebody, they’re going to do one of two things. They’re either going to run away or they’re going to push you back.

Relieve pressure as a recruiter

Neither one of those outcomes is conducive to recruiting success. Which makes it all the more perplexing when there are some recruiters who come across as pushy. Scott believes that there is most definitely a better way, and that way “paves the road” to recruitment leadership.

“Instead of applying pressure, find ways to relieve it,” he said. “Be a pressure valve with your clients and candidates, not a pressure builder. When you relieve the pressure in your relationships, you attract people to you. When you build pressure and try to control others, you push them away.”

Scott is a big believer that candidate control and client control are myths, about as real as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster. (In fact, if you talk with some people, they’ll tell you that Bigfoot and Nessie are MORE real than candidate control and client control.)

Unfortunately, recruiters fall into the trap of believing that they can actually control what their candidates and clients say and do. Sadly, this only pushes people away. You can not become a recruiting leader by trying to control others. It does not work that way. Not very well, anyway.

“Many well-intentioned recruiters have heard these phrases and tried to control their clients and candidates because they thought it was the only way to close the deal,” said Scott. “If you try to control other people, they will resist and you will get frustrated, which explains why so many recruiters either burn out or go crazy because of the ‘emotional roller coaster’ aspect of the business.”

Steps for assuming a leadership role in recruitment

So what is a professional recruiter or executive search consultant to do? Well, we’re glad you asked! (Even though technically, I was the one who asked.)

According to Scott, there are four critical steps for becoming a recruiting leader:

#1—Put positive intention into your relationships.

One of the reasons that recruiters get a “bad rap” is that candidates and clients think they’re only out for themselves. It’s up to every individual recruiter to dispel that myth.

“If your intentions are to serve, it will be felt by the other party,” said Scott. “If it is to be self-serving, that, too, will be felt. Focus first on the contribution, then the commission. Clearly know why and how you can contribute to others. If you think this way, people will be attracted to you.”

According to Scott, changing the way you think is an important prerequisite to changing the way that you speak, and ultimately, how you act.

“If you want to reach new heights and real achievement, you need to start thinking differently before you try on new verbiage,” he said. “I’ve seen drastic increases with many recruiters I’ve mentored and coached because they changed their thinking, and all of a sudden, they doubled their production.”

#2—Assume a recruitment leadership role with your clients and candidates.

If a candidate sends you their resume or a candidate gives you a search assignment, they’re looking to YOU to provide recruitment leadership in the process. Scott suggests saying things such as:

  • “We need to interview this candidate right away because we do not know when their interest level will wane.”
  • “What are the two or three days you have open next week when we can schedule it?”

“When you are the recruiting leader, they’re looking to YOU to tell them what to do and what happens next,” said Scott.

#3—Recognize that recruitment leadership is servanthood.

You always have to think about what you’re doing and how what you’re saying to other people is going to benefit them. And then, when you’re talking with them, communicate clearly what the benefit will be for them. Here is an example:

“Let’s get this candidate in your office as soon as possible, Joe. I think we might be able to get him on board for you by the end of the month if we can get interviews scheduled right away. That way, you can start working on running your business again.”

“Remember that people do things that are in their own personal best interests, not yours,” said Scott. “It’s not about you, it’s about them.”

#4—Change your thinking about overcoming objections.

Remember actor Alec Baldwin in the movie Glengarry Glen Ross? Remember his tirade at the beginning of the film? “Always be closing!” That is outdated thinking from traditional sales training techniques that is NOT going to cut it in today’s world.

According to Scott, you want to steer yourself away from that line of thinking and instead base your objections, once again, on the benefit to the other person.

“You can bill more and make more when you find out why someone will say ‘Yes’ and show them why you can benefit them on a personal level, in a way that aligns with their desires,” he said.

Overcoming objections through recruitment leadership

In the final analysis, Scott recommends striving to be a recruiting leader who will take other people to a place that will benefit them. In short, think in terms of denying what benefits you and focusing on what benefits them. Fortunately, Scott has a way to do just that.

“Think as if you never really get any commission in closing the deal, but you get paid more by finding ways to contribute to others and that your income is dependent on how many times you communicate the message of servanthood and benefit to them,” he said. “Once you start thinking this way, you’ll be amazed at how differently people respond to you and how you’ll start finding ways to communicate that message.”

This is exceedingly important considering the current state of the job market. Not only is top talent in demand, but so are B-level and C-level candidates in some industries. There is a candidate shortage of epic proportions, which means that job seekers and candidates hold the majority of the leverage in hiring situations.

A script for showing recruiting leadership

With that in mind, Scott has a script that recruiters can use when dealing with job seekers and candidates who possess this kind of leverage:

“Joe, I’m fine with whatever you choose to do with my client. All I ask is that you keep an open mind with them during the interview. Whatever you decide is okay with me.”

According to Scott, there are two reasons to use this script:

  1. The candidate is going to do whatever is in their best interests, anyway.
  2. This will endear you to them. It brings them closer to you in the relationship and they’ll never forget that you put their best interests ahead of you getting a fee.

“This is important because when it comes time to tell them why they should turn down a counteroffer, you’ll need to draw on the strength and power of that authenticity in the relationship,” said Scott. “If you build it in the beginning in the right way and with the right intention, then you don’t have to scramble at the end when their employer offers them a double top-secret bonus and a raise.”

The bottom line is this: clients and candidates are going to do what they are going to do.

Candidate control and client control are myths. You have a better shot of spotting Bigfoot in your backyard.

“Let’s just admit it and find a way to leverage it to our advantage and to theirs,” said Scott. “And the best way to do that is to seek to serve, adopt a recruitment leadership mentality, and find ways to communicate how our service will benefit our candidates and clients on a personal and an emotional level.”

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