The #1 Lesson for Being an Incredible Recruiter

Steve Lowisz
Here at REI, we cover a lot of different aspects of recruiting.

But at the end of the day there’s really one key to successful recruiting:

It's all about relationships!

It may seem obvious, but unfortunately, talk to enough recruiters and you’ll see it isn’t.

Spammy InMails, chasing commissions, leaving candidates on read...

You can’t wave a stick without hitting a recruiter who’s forgotten (or never learned) it’s all about relationships.

But all the best recruiters know that making placements, connecting with candidates, and making an impact in their job revolves around building strong relationships.

Don't Let Technology Fool You

We live in an interesting time where you can talk someone through a life-changing career decision without ever meeting them face to face or shaking their hand. 

It’s incredibly convenient – but with all the time on LinkedIn and email, it’s easy to forget something important. 

We forget that there’s a person on the other end of the screen. 

Above all else, that person isn’t a placement. They’re not a fee, a resource, a talent, a candidate...they’re a human being! 

It sounds obvious, but in the fast-paced world of recruiting, we all forget it from time to time. 

They’re a human being with ambitions, dreams, worries, problems, goals, and more.

If you want to be a better recruiter, the first thing to do is try to keep that in mind whenever you’re talking to a candidate. Remember the PERSON behind the profile. 

Daily Habits for Building Strong Relationships 

So what does it look like to build relationships in practice? 

Another simple, common sense but often overlooked piece of advice... 

LISTEN when others are speaking. 

I know you’ve talked to people who clearly weren’t listening to what you were saying. Their mind was elsewhere – or they were in a rush to talk about what THEY wanted to talk about (how great their job offer is, how amazing the company is, etc.) 

It sucks. It just feels bad. 

You need to truly listen to people and ask thoughtful questions – NOT just wait for your turn to talk. 

Show you really listened by asking the right questions and circling back to things someone said in prior conversations. 

Another key piece of advice is to give someone your personal attention whenever you’re speaking to them. 

If you’re writing someone a message, show them that you are writing for them specifically by personalizing it. 

If you’re on the phone with someone, don’t multi-task – focus on the conversation and give them your full attention. 

Finally, be as consistent as you can with communication. It’s just polite. Don’t leave someone on “read” for two weeks if you can help it! 

Recruiters Need Strong Relationships with Candidates AND Hiring Managers

All of these lessons apply just as much to hiring managers as they do for candidates. 

Naturally our focus is often on candidates because we want candidates to listen to us. But just as we want candidates to consider our opportunities, building a strong relationship with managers is crucial to gaining influence. 

If you take the time to build a relationship with a hiring manager, they will be MUCH more receptive when you recommend a certain candidate.  

They’ll also be more understanding if you must tell them their candidate profile or salary band isn’t realistic. 

Relationships Don't Happen Overnight

It takes time to build relationships. Oftentimes, new recruiters make the mistake of thinking it’s not worth their time to send a note to a candidate asking how things are going unless they’re actively recruiting that candidate.
Nothing could be farther from the truth. Great recruiters think long-term by building and maintaining a strong network of professionals with different skills and strengths.

Timing is everything in recruiting.
A candidate you build a rapport with today might not be the right fit for your current opening. However, if they have in-demand skills, sooner or later they’ll be the perfect candidate for another opening.

The key is to remember that building relationships has a HUGE long-term payoff. It’s about building a long, successful and profitable career – not just filling your next placement as fast as possible.