Recruiter 3.0: Why Emotional Intelligence Is the Future of Recruiting

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According to Caroline Stokes, the executive coach and headhunter behind The Emotionally Intelligent Recruiter, a podcast and training program focused on teaching recruiters emotional intelligence (E.Q.), we’re on the cusp of a new age in recruiting. Call it “Recruiter 3.0”

“Recruiter 1.0 was when an ad would go into the paper and people would apply via snail mail,” Stokes explains. “Recruiter 2.0 was the digital age, where you got a job on LinkedIn.”

Recruiter 3.0, on the other hand, is the age of the machines – or, more accurately, the age of the human-machine partnership.

“Recruiter 3.0 is going to be the [Artificial Intelligence] A.I. age, wherein recruiters need to step up into being data savvy – not in the same way as Boolean strings and managing spreadsheets, but in really getting closer to the clients, internal and external,” Stokes says.

Today’s recruiters are often so pressed for time that they can’t truly absorb and understand their clients’ needs. This lack of understanding makes it more difficult for recruiters to match the perfect candidates with the perfect roles. A.I. will change this by freeing up recruiters from some of the more menial and repetitive tasks currently included in their purview, thus giving recruiters the time they need to “fully integrate with their clients to understand and represent them,” Stokes says. A.I. will also help recruiters better understand clients, roles, and candidates through access to more advanced data analytics.

This level of integration with clients will require recruiters to become masters of emotional intelligence – something many recruiters can’t necessarily say about themselves at this moment in time.

Hence why Stokes created The Emotionally Intelligent Recruiter in the first place.

Old-School Recruiting: Like Being an Item on the Menu

Stokes’s belief in the value of  E.Q. can be traced back to the ’90s, before she became a headhunter. Back then, Stokes was working in technology, and she felt something was very wrong with the recruiting process.

“When people were trying to hire me, it was really like taking an order at a restaurant,” Stokes recalls. “‘What are you interested in? Okay, let me send you a resume,’ or ‘No, you’re not being invited to interview.’ You were being thrown at jobs you didn’t know you were being thrown at.”

While Stokes acknowledges things have changed since then, this experience neverthelessgave her an “appetite for the recruitment industry and how it could evolve to incorporate more of a human touch.”

networkEventually, Stokes would become a headhunter – but that wasn’t the end of her professional evolution. She recalls a moment when she placed a “rockstar” candidate from Amazon with an Italian company.

“I though, ‘Oh my god, everything is wrong here,'” Stokes recalls. “We were moving someone from Seattle to London to work with Italian CEOs, and I just thought, ‘This is a huge problem.’ I found the recruiting system was broken.”

So Stokes did something few – if any – other recruiters have done: She became an executive coach focused on helping new hires navigate the “slightly dodgy waters” of their first 100 days at a new placement.

‘Recruiters Don’t Want to Be Trained’

When Stokes founded her headhunting/coaching firm Forward, her website included a button advertising “recruiter training.” It didn’t go over well at first.

“Everyone laughed at me, saying ‘Caroline, you’re not going to be able to train recruiters, because they don’t see themselves as needing training,'” Stokes says. “I was like, ‘No, I can see they are in absolute need.'”

Recruiters’ biggest problem, Stokes felt, was that they’d make a hire and then drop out of the candidate’s professional life.

“[Recruiting] is not about hiring and then ignoring, but about hiring and then supporting the person as they get integrated into an organization,” Stokes says. “When you’re a recruiter, you have an intimate relationship with that person, and you want them to succeed.”

Stokes decided she could make the most impact by focusing her efforts on “helping recruiters at any stage in their journey to adapt to new technology and to adapt their emotional intelligence so they are able to thrive and provide the best possible service to clients, their peers, and of course, the candidates.”

Which brings us to The Emotionally Intelligent Recruiter: Stokes spent four years creating programs to help recruiters use their E.Q.s to “thrive and create their own career identities, whether they’re going to be independent or work within an organization.”

In addition to providing better experiences to clients and candidates, Stokes also aims to help recruiters tap into their leadership abilities.

“Oftentimes, recruiters don’t have the ability to be at the table or in the C-suite,” she says. “The program … will create that knowledgeable recruiter so they are able to think from a leadership perspective.”

The podcast component of The Emotionally Intelligent Recruiter came about as a result of Stokes’s reading habits.

Railroad“Whenever I was reading a book, I would reach out to the author, and I would say, ‘I want to write about what you wrote; do you have time to speak on the phone?'” Stokes says. “I spent quite a few years doing that, and I thought, ‘There’s got to be a faster method here of getting the information directly to people.'”

A podcast turned out to be just the right vehicle for Stokes to share with recruiters “new nuggets of gold they can adapt to their day or their career.”

Human and Machine: The Importance of E.Q. to Today’s Recruiters

The new wave of technology – including A.I. and more advanced data analytics – will require recruiters to become more data savvy. Stokes muses that we may soon see job listings for “recruiter-data technicians” who can interpret data about both client organizations and individual candidates to make smart recruiting and hiring decisions. In addition to interpreting this hiring data, recruiters will also need to “communicate human-to-human in non-transactional ways” in order to elevate the experience for all parties involved, Stokes says.

“[Recruiters] will be the ones to create that true employer branding experience,” Stokes says. “The human-to-human aspect has always been there, it’s just the level needs to be heightened. It needs to go up from an interpretive perspective as well as a new skills perspective.”

For recruiters to adapt to their new environments – for them to work alongside A.I. productively and effectively – they’ll need to learn a variety of new skills. This evolution will require the right mindset, which Stokes believes The Emotionally Intelligent Recruiter can help foster.

“There’s nothing worse than someone dragging their feet when there’s a new technology shift,” Stokes says. “Things always change, and we always have to learn how to change. We need to try to predict the way it’s going to be and to learn those aspects.”

While plenty of people – including some high-profile names like Elon Musk – are focused on apocalyptic visions of A.I., stokes is more excited about the opportunities the technology affords.

“We’ve all seen Terminator; we know the bad side of it,” she laughs. “I think when it comes to human-to-human hiring practices, right now, I’m optimistic.”

In part, that’s because Stokes has worked closely with pioneers in the field, like Pymetrics and SquarePeg.

“They’re not [developing this technology] to ruin anybody’s life,” Stokes says. “They want to ensure a company’s performance is enhanced, the best people are hired for the job, that there is no gender bias.”

talkWhen Stokes looks at A.I., she sees a tool that will give recruiters extra time, allowing them to learn more, provide better service, and do the kind of human-touch work that many recruiters prefer to the boring desk-job aspects of the role.

“A.I. can be your friend – you just have to learn a few different aspects to become that great recruiter who can interpret the role and manage the human,” Stokes says.

Getting Started: An Introduction to the Emotionally Intelligent Recruiter Podcast

At 24 episodes and counting, the Emotionally Intelligent Recruiter podcast may be a little daunting for beginners. Where to even start? Below, Stokes shares some of her favorite episodes:

Episode 4 : Dorie Clark, Author of Reinvent Yourself

Description: “On today’s episode, I get to have a chat with author, speaker, and political commentator Dorie Clark. She discusses image and the importance of reinvention. Reinvention is key for recruiters in order to generate success in business in this fourth industrial revolution.”

Episode 13 : Daniel Burrus, Future Strategist and Author of The Anticipatory Organization

Description: “Today, I had the opportunity to speak with Daniel Burrus, a strategic advisor, author, and futurist. We discuss disruption and why we are so focused on the now when we should be looking to the future.”

Episode 18 : Nicole Leighton, former People Executive at Sony Pictures and Disney, Talent and Leadership Program Coach for Tech and Creative Leaders 

Description: “During this episode, I speak with Nicole Leighton, a talent and leadership program coach for tech and creative leaders. We discuss how to establish solid working relationships, evolving in order to produce better results, and how to work in a partnership.”

Episode 21 : Frida Polli, A.I. leader, Neuroscientist, and CEO of Pymetrics

Description: “On this week’s episode, I have the opportunity to bend Frida Polli’s ear about what A.I. can provide to the recruiting industry and why it will never replace human HR workers.”

Episode 23 : Dr. Shawn Andrews, Author of The Power of Perception: Leadership, Emotional Intelligence, and the Gender Divide

Description: “On today’s episode, I speak with Dr. Shawn Andrews about gender biases in the workforce and how bias affects the ability of women to obtain leadership positions.”

By Matthew Kosinski