Getting to Know Your Clients and Candidates

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recruiter tipsThose of us who have been in the industry longer than the internet has been in the average home probably remember the notebooks and colorful sticky notes we had all over our desks. These essential parts of our recruiting arsenal were chalk full of tidbits of personal information about everyone we talked to on the phone or met in person. Part of being an executive search recruiter was acting like you had a photographic memory. We knew the names of our client’s spouses, kids and pets. If we were smart we also knew their anniversaries and when little Suzie would turn three years old.

In today’s world of recruiting via LinkedIn and Facebook, you have to wonder if we’ve lost that personal touch that made our clients think of us first when they had an opening, or a candidate passing along our card when they knew someone in their field looking for a better opportunity.

Despite the convenience of recruiting via modern avenues, there is still something to be said for taking the time to really get to know both our clients and our candidates, and it doesn’t typically happen through email conversations. Clients that feel they have a personal connection with you are significantly more likely keep your services despite any financial challenges within the company, or minor upsets that occur during the recruiting process.

Candidates are no different. The best way to counter counter offers is by having a solid relationship with your candidate. If you make it a point to get to know the person you are recruiting during the early stages of the game, you will know what the candidate’s hot buttons are, and what could be a deal breaker. You will be able to foresee, and likely avoid, problems before they cost you a placement. Your candidates will also be less likely to accept a counter offer in the first place, as they won’t want to let you down.

If you have fallen into the trap of simply going through the motions that are part of the recruiting life cycle, you may have to step outside of your comfort zone until it becomes second nature again. Avoid sending emails whenever possible. Call your clients or candidates on the phone, and begin every conversation by asking them how their weekend was, or if they enjoyed their evening off. Ask questions when they mention their kids, find out how old they are, and encourage them to share stories about the things their kids have accomplished. Take notes when your contacts mention hobbies or things about their personal lives. If your candidate mentions that she isn’t available on Wednesday because her baby has a doctor’s appointment, your Thursday call should begin with asking how much the baby weighed at the appointment. It’s the little things that bridge the gap between getting to know your candidates and clients and simply seeing them as potential dollar signs. Executive search recruiters that make the effort will see those dollar signs add up, while those who don’t will wonder why the big one keeps getting away.

Trust us, you will never forget the day you land a new client you’ve been chasing simply because you remembered to send her beloved poodle a birthday card. And she’ll never use another executive search recruiter as long as she holds her position. Guaranteed.

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Marie is a writer for covering career advice, recruitment topics, and HR issues. She has an educational background in languages and literature as well as corporate experience in Human Resources.