How we recruit determines how people view us and the organizations we support. Whether agency or in house, how you recruit matters.

Think about a time you experienced sub-par service at an establishment. How did you feel? Probably pretty bad. What did you do? You probably lodged a formal complaint, or told others about your experience, or never went back to that place again.

Now, think about a time when you received a high level of service. You probably felt pretty special, right? Your probably spread the good news to others, and you are probably still a patron of that place to this day.

A job search is no different. If a recruiter makes a candidate feel bad, they won’t want to work for the company, and they’ll warn others away, too. If a recruiter makes the candidate feel good, the opposite will happen. If you don’t believe me, check out Glassdoor.

Recruiters Are a Candidate’s First Look Into a Company. What Do Your Candidates See?

In all the talk about recruiting strategies and sourcing effectiveness, it can be easy to forget that a people-centered approach is the true foundation of recruiting success. The art of engagement and empathy is what separates a good recruiter from an ineffective one.

Unfortunately, recruitment professionals tend to engage up to the point of a decision. If the decision is not to move forward with a candidate, the recruiter disappears, often leaving the candidate with no closure and a bad taste in their mouth. Just ask the millions of job seekers who can share their own tales of broken connections and being ghosted by recruiters.

Recruiters are a lens into a company’s culture. How the recruiter treats the candidate is how the candidate assumes the company will treat them as an employee. Your recruitment team is an extension of your employer brand. They are on the front line, delivering in real-time and in a human way your organization’s values to every potential new employee. Success in that endeavor requires more than just the competencies necessary for efficient recruiting — it requires a truly ethical approach to the profession.

The 4 Pillars of Ethical Recruiting

Ethics should be at the forefront of your mind whenever you are building a recruiting team. For that reason, you should look for these four competencies in any recruiting professional you think about hiring — and if you’re a recruiter yourself, you should think long and hard about whether you, too, have these competencies:

1. A People-Centered Focus

Recruiters need to have a heart for the human person. One does not need a psychology degree, but one does need to at least understand the psychological elements of the art of recruiting.

To build genuine connections with candidates, recruiters need to be active listeners with a true interest in what candidates have to say. Engaging candidates in real conversations opens up the door to finding out so much more about a person than you ever could by simply asking direct questions about job functions. Plus, when a candidate feels comfortable, they open up and provide valuable insights into who they are, their interests, their work ethic, and their relevant competencies.

Remember: Just as the candidate is being interviewed, so too is the candidate interviewing the recruiter. If the candidate does not fit the need, let them know and explain why. This creates a feel-good moment, even in the midst of the rejection, and both parties will walk away with warm thoughts of one another.

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2. Empathy

By definition, empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. Be the recruiter you want to encounter when you are searching for a job. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

I want you to try something. Google “layoffs 2020″ and see what comes up. Unemployment is low and the market has been a candidate’s market for the last decade, but there will be many displaced workers this year. According to Forbes, more than 20 million Americans lose their jobs to layoffs, restructurings, and company closures every year.

Be sensitive to what these job seekers are going through. Be compassionate by following up and clearly communicating. Don’t be that recruiter, the one who views people as statistics on a spreadsheet or an extra zero on a commission check.

3. A Consultative Approach

How do consultants conduct their business? Do they barge in with a laundry list of things they are going to do for a client before they even ascertain the need?

No. They ask questions to understand the client’s needs, and then they build out solutions that make sense for the unique situation.

Recruiting demands a consultative approach. A job description cannot possibly capture every single competency required by an open position. A job is more than a checklist of duties — it contains multiple tactical, functional, and behavioral components necessary for success.

It’s time for recruiters to reimagine the old intake meeting as a recruitment strategy meeting. The recruiter and hiring manager should be acting as partners here. The recruiter, with a consulting hat on, should dig deep into all aspects of the role before screening and interviewing candidates. The more a recruiter knows, the more targeted the sourcing and the more fruitful the interview experience. The more consultative the recruiter is in the process, the more engaged clients and candidates both are. This all equates to a much more positive candidate experience all around.

4. Agility

Recruiters should be taking a page from Scrum methodology. To quote Atlassian’s Claire Drummond, “Scrum encourages teams to learn through experiences, self-organize while working on a problem, and reflect on their wins and losses to continuously improve.”

Translated to recruitment, Scrum is the ability to work in true partnership with HR, marketing, and the hiring department to ascertain what a good candidate really looks like. Being agile means that processes, workflows, and technology deliver accurate data points from which insights can be uncovered and implemented. What is working? What can we do to improve?

Recruiting should be an endless cycle of obtaining excellence in the process, driven by a desire to keep creating an excellent experience for the candidate and the organization.

At their core, great recruiting methods start with the ethical character of the recruiter. Take a look at your recruiting team and ask, “Who is in it for the people?” Once you have a team that is driven toward service to the candidate, you can teach them successful service to the business.

The value the recruitment team brings to the organization depends on quality, not quantity. How talent is sourced, treated, and moved through the process determines how well your organization will attract the best talent in a candidate-driven market.

It is no longer a matter of asking, “Where is the talent?” Instead, we must ask, “What are we doing to attract the talent that matters?”

Laureen Kautt, BCC (with additional Career Coach designation), is a global talent acquisition executive and the founder and principal coach of Volitionary Movement, LLC. “Confessions of a Corporate Talent Acquisition Leader” is her recurring column on Recruiter Today.

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