Going beyond just recruiting and becoming a consultative partner

Organizations are constantly evolving and transforming themselves and as a result, their recruitment needs are changing.  Ideal candidate profiles evolve, technology emerges, new leaders are being hired or developed, and companies are finding that what worked for them 5 years ago in recruitment isn’t working today.  As John Vlastelica, Founder and Managing Director of Recruiting Toolbox, states, “The business wants - actually, demands – that recruiting step up and lead.”

To lead, you need to build consultative and trusting relationship with your client.  You must instill confidence in them of your abilities to deliver.  You must educate them on your value.  In addition, you have to avoid playing the role of a transactional customer service representative and act strategically like a trusted advisor.   In return, clients will respect your role and the recruitment process and value your advice.  Once you overcome this hurdle, you will have the often sought after coveted seat at the table and truly lead your clients rather than them leading you.

So what are the mistakes being made that prohibit a talented recruiter from being consultative and how do you change those?

  1. Most recruiters act as customer service agents and accommodate incoming requests with the goal of making the hiring manager happy.  To become a consultative recruiter, you need to see yourself as a partner in the recruitment process and set up the relationship as a partnership, not as a vendor working for a customer.  Your primary goal is not to please the hiring manager, but to help the hiring manager understand the expectations of deliverables for you and them.  Educate the client on the recruitment process, the steps involved, and the principles of recruiting.  Share with the client your expertise, prior successes, jobs you have worked that are similar in nature, and a well-structured strategy. Inform the client up front of your needs and expectations you will have of them throughout the process and hold them accountable to this agreement.  In essence, help the hiring manager succeed.

  2. How many times a week do you accept an unrealistic timeline request or unrealistic candidate profile request?  As a consultant, it is your responsibility to address this and not just accept it.  You are the expert in recruitment and with that comes the obligation to set realistic expectations with the client.  If you were building a house and wanted to remove a load-bearing wall, wouldn’t you want the builder (the expert) to tell you that removing that wall isn’t a realistic option?   The last thing you would want is for the house to implode. Consulting in the recruitment space is no different.  If a client is asking for a skill set and has a salary range that does not match that required skill set, you need to help them understand that gap.  Your knowledge of the market and candidates is valuable information that earns you trust – don’t hide that.  A consultative recruiter will walk through unrealistic expectations with the client and help them understand the trade-offs between candidate requirements, salary and speed of hiring. In addition, if you accept an unrealistic timeframe, you are allowing yourself the opportunity to fail.  Rather, you should set and manage client expectations of timelines early in the process. Explain the critical impact the hiring manager has on the time to fill metric and hold them accountable to it throughout the process.  Applying this approach will improve your working relationship as a trusted advisor and partner and increase your productivity.

  3. Communication is critical in any relationship and especially so in recruitment partnerships.  As recruiters, we often feel like we spend a large chuck of our time chasing candidate and interview feedback from our client.  A recruiter who has established a true partnership through consultative behavior doesn’t have to do this.  I am not saying, it never happens, but certainly, the chasing is minimized allowing the recruiter more time to add value to the process.  The alternative solution for gathering this information is through planned debriefings and regular discussions with your client.  These are equally as important, as an intake call or information gathering session when a job opening comes to you. Not only should you plan these and participate in them, but you should facilitate the meeting.  Asking key questions to help the team make the best hiring decision, driving an honest and open discussion about trade-off with requirements and salary, and coaching the client on risks are all keys to providing consultative communication.  In addition, there is valuable information shared during debriefings and regular recruitment update calls that expands your insight into the organization, the client’s hiring needs, and the market.

  4. The final mistake keeping industry recruiters from elevating to a trusted partnership is believing in the all too often heard statement, “you are only as good as your last hire”.  While there is some truth to that statement, the real power comes from your value added services.  You can’t let the perception of your value be determined by a single factor (your last hire).  You have to earn the trust and respect of your client by sharing your expertise.  Send your clients articles that tie back to and support your recruitment actions, provide them with market intelligence and industry trends that show you are embedded in the market, assist them with job branding, brand yourself on social networks, elevate their employee value proposition, coach them on interviewing skills, and provide a solid and positive candidate experience.  Probably the most important value add service is keeping your client informed of what is happening behind the scenes.  When your hiring manager doesn’t hear from you, they assume nothing is happening when in reality you could have just uncovered a great lead or learned a piece of industry news creating challenges in the process.  Everything you do that adds value increases your worth as a trusted advisor.

When recruiters stop performing like transactional engines and show their clients they are delivering a strategic, high touch, quality service, then they will have earned a seat at the table as a consultative partner who leads the recruitment process. With that trust, your job will become easier and you will have better understanding and communication with your client.

This article was written by Robin Shartzer. Robin has over 13 years of diverse experience in the talent acquisition community.  Her experience includes working in a variety of environments from agency recruitment to corporate recruitment and currently as a Recruiting Manager with Yoh’s RPO Division.  She has worked in many industries varying in size and scope.  Robin’s passion in recruitment is process improvement and driving results through analysis of metrics and sharing of best practices with her team and colleagues. She also believes integrity is at the center of every success. Robin holds a B.S. in Psychology from University of Louisville, a M.A. in Leadership from Ohio State University, and resides in Louisville, KY with her husband and 2 children.

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