Using Emotional Intelligence to Build Client and Candidate Relationships

Steve Lowisz
Emotional intelligence is all about our capability to recognize and understand the emotions of ourselves and others, as well as using this information to manage our behaviors and adapt to different environments.

By sharpening our emotional intelligence skills, we can vastly improve the client and candidate experience throughout the recruiting process.

Consider the 5 key elements of emotional intelligence (as outlined by author and science journalist Daniel Goleman) and how we can leverage them to level up our recruiting game.

1. Empathy

Empathy is about having the ability to relate to someone else’s situation by drawing from your own experiences, and showing you understand.

Let’s say a client or candidate experiences an unexpected death in the family. Obviously, business as usual will be placed on hold. And it’s how you react next that can leave a meaningful and lasting impression on them. Think about what they must be going through by reflecting on your own experiences. Show you care by sending a thoughtful note or perhaps some flowers. Showing patience and understanding in a situation like this has the power to solidify professional relationships for life.

2. Motivation

Motivation is about having the drive to work towards your goals and holding high standards for the quality of your work.

It’s obvious that exercising this element of emotional intelligence is extremely helpful for work, but it’s easier said than done. I’m sure we can all relate: some days you wake up ready to tackle the day, and other days you feel deflated. 

Having huge goals like making multiple hires within a certain amount of days can be daunting and leave you feeling discouraged. Practice increasing your motivation by breaking it down into bite-sized short-term goals for yourself. Like aiming to find X number of potential candidates per day, having X amount of conversations per day, etc. Another way to stay motivated and to avoid burnout is to set aside time for yourself to unplug each day and give yourself a rest. By doing so, you’ll feel more energized and mentally prepared to perform your best during work hours.

3. Self-awareness

Self-awareness is about knowing how your actions and emotions can affect others around you. It’s also about realizing how your emotions can affect your own behavior.

Think about your headspace before you engage with clients and candidates. Imagine you’ve had a conflict with your boss that leaves you feeling angry and frustrated, and soon after you’ve got a candidate interview scheduled. Being self-aware that you are in a bad mood over something unrelated to the candidate is the first step to not letting it impact the interview.

4. Self-regulation

Self-regulation is about staying in control of your actions and emotions and displaying them appropriately.

The world of recruiting involves constantly interacting with new people. Undoubtedly you will come across individuals with different beliefs and values than your own. It’s typically easy to steer clear of touchy personal subjects with clients and candidates, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Being able to self-regulate your emotions in these instances are important. Rather than lashing out when you find yourself at odds with someone’s opinion, redirect the conversation to more relevant recruiting topics. Don’t put your professional relationships in jeopardy over personal disagreements.

5. Social Skills

Social skills are about the ability to apply self-awareness and self-regulation in the way you interact with others.

Some social skills that are invaluable to practice as a recruiter include active listening, persuasion, communicating clearly in a positive manner, and monitoring verbal and non-verbal cues from others. Remember to be extra cautious in your choice of words when communicating via email or phone. It is much easier for things to be misinterpreted without the ability to read facial expressions and body language.

Continuously Work on Your Emotional Intelligence

By continuously striving to improve in all areas of emotional intelligence, we will be better equipped to handle all aspects of recruiting and build strong relationships with clients and candidates alike.