Question of the day: Do recruiters have to be nice to be successful?

From Today's RBC Daily:

Do nice men and women always finish last? They stand a chance if career advancement is the ultimate goal. Art Markman, PhD wrote a great post on HBR entitled - Are Successful People Nice? If you haven't had an opportunity to read this post I highly recommend it. Markman asserts that it's really not a question of being nice, but rather the level of one's agreeableness that goes a long way in defining the success one can achieve. He outlines a compelling argument on how finding a balance of agreeableness can help being viewed as a leader, but how about as a recruiter? At our desks we are often faced with situations that call for us to wear different hats. We are constantly managing different personality types and situations that call for us to be both agreeable and disagreeable at times. In my experience some of the most successful recruiters I know aren't necessarily the nicest people in the world, but does it help?

Question of the day:
Do recruiters have to be nice to be successful?

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I believe yes, as a recruiter I find it more helpful to be nice.  We are in a service business, and we serve multiple people at the same time - clients and candidates.  It's important to be nice even if you need to be disagreeable or firm; that's part of being professional, and being a professional will bring you success for the long haul.  Happy Tuesday!

"Nice" is one word. Empathetic is another. See the world through the eyes of your candidate. Courteous is another. Too often candidates are treated as commodities rather than human beings. Case in point (though this was specifically about an in-house recruiter it's universally applicable). There was a story in the New York Times last year about a guy who a company was theoretically very interested in. He went through multiple interviews. Everybody loved him. The recruiter told he'd be contacted in a few days. After a week, he placed a call. Went to voice mail. Sent an email never received an answer. The following week he made another call. Went to voice mail, never to be returned. Sent another email. No response. Finally her sent an email thanking them for the job offer. He accepts and will be there bright and early Monday morning. You bet your ass he got response to that one. How hard is it to simply tell someone, it was a pleasure meeting you but we've decided to go with someone else. Or in another direction. Or something. This goes back to seeing the world through the candiate's eyes. Would you like to be treated that way?  I think not. Just a thought.

We have saying in our practice...'we don't want people to be nice, we want people to be honest'.  Yes being polite and courteous important.  Although, it is rare to consistently offer open and honest feedback to clients and candidates; often we'd rather just be nice.  Nice is safe.

What a question on Valentine's Day :)

Honest, responsive, and ethical.  If those traits make someone seem nice than that is great.  Nice recruiters, however, are scared to tell candidates no.

I also agree with all the comments so far on here. We are dealing with people, they are not a commoditiy but living and breathing individuals.It doesnt cost a thing to be nice, polite, courteos and empathetic. I am a firm believer, treat people as you would expect to be treated, you never get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression.

Candidates and clients see throught the shrouds of those who are not so nice.


Happy Valentines Day to everyone who is celebrating.

All the PC stuff in the world and or the golden rule does not make placements or find people jobs.  It's not what you say it's how you say it.  Nice is a silly word.  Firm, fair and friendly works just fine with most folks..  I much prefer that someone tell me the truth even if i don't like it rather than try and "nice" me to death.  Syrup belongs on pancakes.


If you want nice, call your mother, she will always be nice if you haven't borrowed money from her lately and not paid it back.

My boss used to have 2 famous sayings " We're not social workers" and " You didn't give birth to them"

So it woould make you think that recruiting is a numbers game and if the person is not a fit, move on.

In reality, you need to want to see folks advance their career through your efforts.  Everything else has to be right as well.  

But you should be proud of what your efforts did for someone.  Whether that is nice or not, I don't know.  

NO... A Global War For Talent, Requires track record of RESULTS, not nice... (Respectful, YES)

Agreed Brian, fill a tough spot for an employer or place a candidate and one becomes the nicest person on the planet even if one has to beat someone almost to the point of silly putty to make it happen.  Smiling while one does it. 

Hi Tim, 

I love this question and fall down on the side of 'yes'. However, as per the other article, "nice" needs to be defined as its very emotive and depends on your perspective of what "nice" is. For example I can think of many people that are always "nice" but that I find totally annoying (which is very nice!)

I think a better way to look at is as "caring" and I think this spans all sides of life including recruitment. If clients, candidates, employees, bosses etc etc feel and see that you care by your actions (which they will percieve as "nice") then you will have trust and influence.

With trust and influence our jobs as recruited become much much easier to do.

To be nice is fine, but unless a person is also good at what they do, professional, courteous, and ethical then they are not going to succeed for long at any business.

(Although, I have known plenty of distinctly not nice people who had none of those attributes but yet were always "getting ahead". I keep hoping karma comes into play eventually!)

Remember "Soup Nazi" from Seinfeld, he could get away being rude, because of the product he was putting out there and everybody wanted it.

In reality, it doesn't last for ever, there is someone new or better out there in the market who is competing with you.


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