In the span of five short months, I leapt from intern to full-time employee at a boutique recruiting firm focusing on software, engineering, IT, and cyber security. I went from working part-time while wrapping up my final semester of college to spending full days in the office, and while my internship was filled with training and insights vital to my future role as a recruiter, nothing prepares you like the real thing.
Here are 10 lessons I learned in my first month as a recruiter. Who knows — maybe some of these will help out the veterans, too!
1. Never Make Assumptions About Your Candidates
Do you look at addresses on resumes and think, “No, that’s too far. There’s no way they would want to make that drive”? Do you see salaries and say, “Well, they were making a lot of money. I don’t think they’d want to take a pay cut.”
Never make these decisions for candidates in your head before you even have a conversation with them. You never know what someone’s situation or outlook may be without asking them! Maybe their resume isn’t up to date, and now they’re located in the same city as the position. Maybe they’re willing to take a pay cut in exchange for amazing benefits and a shorter commute.
Always screen someone whom you think might be a good fit either now or in the future. Plus, they may have a network of colleagues or friends who might be looking for a new role.
2. Complete the Phone Screen — Even If Your Candidate Is Not the Right Fit Right Now
A common mistake that I made in my first few weeks on the job was not finishing my conversations with candidates because they were not the right fit at the moment — but they could have been great fits for other positions in the future!
Always complete the entire screen: get their current salary, what they’re looking to make next, their commute radius, their clearance eligibility, etc. Most importantly, learn about what gets them excited about a new job. Get all the information you can from candidates so that you can keep in touch with them in the future.
3. Be Transparent and Honest With Your Candidates
Negotiation: it’s a challenging part of a recruiter’s job, but not one to shy away from completely. I’m still getting used to the salary negotiation part of my screening calls, and for some reason, salary talks have made me pretty nervous.
In the end, the salary is not up to the recruiter. It’s the client’s responsibility, and they will make that decision. All we can do is work with the candidates and clients to communicate clearly each party’s desires and expectations.
4. Salary Is Only One Component of Compensation
While learning about the art of negotiation, my boss shared with me the lesson that salary is only one component of compensation. There are non-monetary ways that companies compensate their employees, too — and that’s something to keep in mind when talking to candidates.
5. Get Referrals From Candidates
I think the common theme here is, just call all your candidates. Your candidate may not be the right fit, right now, or they might not be on the market at the moment, but their friends might be looking. This may be the toughest part of the job: building rapport with strangers so they feel compelled to help you find great candidates.
6. Never Spam Your Candidates With Plug-and-Play Messages
I refuse to send long template messages to candidates. Just think about how you would react to receiving such an impersonal message! I know that I need to establish some sort of connection with a candidate before talking to them about any position that I might have available.
I want to build my relationships with my candidates, not just submit them for jobs. I want to be able to reach out to my candidates throughout their careers and be a resource to them during any job transition.
7. Always Prep Your Candidates for Their Interviews
You’d be surprised by the amount of people who do not know that they’re supposed to wear business attire for their interview! Just because the candidate may be a programmer who works in jeans and t-shirt, that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t look professional for that first impression. Make sure your candidates know what standard interview dress is at your client’s company.
Also, give candidates a thorough prep on how most interviews are structured with your client. Have your candidate prepare enough questions to ask the employer, and make sure the candidate turns off their cell phone during their meeting!
8. Be Creative; Think Outside the Box
Ever feel stuck on your sourcing? Feel like your candidate pool is too small and you’ve already contacted all the good ones? Well, you need to think outside the box!
Think about how the same candidates are available on the job boards to your competition. How can you cut through the noise that is the Internet to reach and connect with the best? Be unique — sometimes, just a funny email subject line can catch someone’s attention!
9. You’re Just Having a Casual Conversation
I was a little intimidated during my first few weeks of phone calls. I think I was putting too much pressure on myself. The important thing to remember is that recruiting calls are just casual conversations. I’ve always loved networking events. I am never afraid to talk to people in person, so why psych myself out over the phone? Simply think of phone calls as the same thing: just a casual conversation to get to know someone!
10. Wording Matters
I have learned that wording matters. Are you trying to find someone entry-level, or more senior? It makes a huge difference in the job write up that you share. Double check your wording in your job descriptions, emails, and voicemails.
It is also important to note that people often label themselves differently, especially in the tech world, when it comes to their job titles or levels or seniority. That’s where having a phone conversation can really clear thing up.
I’m learning something new every day at my job and constantly improving my technique, but now I want to know: what were some key thing that you learned when you first started in this field?