fieldI recently attended my first client meeting as a new recruiter. Naturally, I was a bit anxious about making a good first impression — especially in front of my boss. But once I calmed my nerves, I found I was able to focus on listening to and learning from our client, which helped me gain some great insights on how to source and recruit most effectively on their behalf.

Our conversation with the hiring manager and his colleagues shed a lot of light on the company’s culture. It also painted a clearer picture of their ideal candidate for me — a much clearer picture than I could have developed on my own without stepping foot in their offices or meeting them face-to-face. Now, I feel much better prepared to speak with candidates knowledgeably about that company and the job opening. In fact, I know so much that I almost feel as if I will be working alongside that new employee!

Beyond the benefit of getting better at my job — always a great benefit, of course — I learned these three invaluable lessons from my first client meeting:

1. Cultural Fit Is the Most Important Factor When It Comes to Hiring

Finding a skills fit isn’t necessarily the most difficult part of my job as a recruiter. The tricky part is finding candidates who are the right fit. To successfully complete this quest, I have to do some very careful orchestration: selecting qualified people, getting to know them well enough to envision them as part of the team where they’ll be working, repeating the process with each candidate, and so on. (This all goes back to my prior point that knowing the client environment really well is crucial to be successful as a recruiter.)

2. Company Employees Can Be the Most Reliable, Most Valuable Resource for a Recruiter

During my client site visit, I met with the entire software team to learn more about their day-to-day responsibilities. Speaking to current employees gave us the best picture of the company, in terms of what a typical workday is like and what traits the team wanted their idea coworker to possess. The employees’ feedback also helped me devise questions to ask each candidate to ensure that they would be a great cultural fit for my client.

ferrisOur discussion with the software team helped us learn about the existing employees’ previous roles and relevant work experience and how all of that has helped them in their current roles. This kind of insight was exactly what we needed in order to develop an accurate candidate profile.

3. Taking Recruiters to Client Meetings Leads to Better Results

Sure, client meetings may take away valuable recruiting time, but that lost time is more than made up for. When a recruiter is present at initial client meetings, they’ll be able to deliver much more accurate results in the end — leading to a better hire and a happier client. Attending this meeting gave me incredible, invaluable insight from both the hiring manager and software team.

Simply because my boss invited me to learn firsthand about our new client, I found out exactly what they want in a candidate, in terms of skills and personality traits. This is, hands down, much better than learning about a client by reading a “sales sheet.”

Professional Development #ProTip:  If you’re a millennial recruiter like me and new to the hiring world, then my advice is to take the initiative! Ask your sales manager/business development executive if you can attend client meetings, when appropriate. If they need an explanation of why you want to come along, just send them this article!

What other advice would you share with new recruiters looking to impress their new clients? Share your feedback in the comments! Let’s continue the conversation!

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in Recruiting Career Advice]