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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Professional, Respectful and Honest (about their background, the market and the prospects of helping them) is all that matters.  You can be nice and lie to them, over promise and ignore them but that won't get them anywhere.  People respect the three attributes I mentioned and respond well to them.

During the process of filling an order, I think having empathy (to a degree) and your delivery matters.  I truly believe that as a recruiter, you have to remember that your product is a human being...not a number.

I agree there shouldn't be any "sugar coding" when it comes to the candidate on the clients behalf, but I have been the nice recruiter and I have also been the tough one (out of frustration mainly) and in the end, you get a better review from both the client and job seekers if you grin and take the situation head on.  Leave the frustration for when you get out of the office.

I find it absurd, frankly, that anyone would suggest that recruiters shouldn't be nice to their candidates... Probably because I find it hard to distinguish between being respectful, polite or courteous, and being nice. Personally, the ooey gooey syrupy nonsense mentioned above isnt what i consider nice. I find that patronizing and rude, so maybe thats where my opinion differs with some here.

I wonder how many of you who say there is no place for "nice" in recruiting treat your clients, or your boss for that matter, in the same fashion that you treat your candidates. I imagine that if you used the same "i dont need to be nice" idiocy with your clients that you claim you use with your candidates, you'd be spending a lot of time hunting for new clients, or looking for a new job.

Being nice doesnt mean you arent honest with your candidate, it means you're not a jerk when you talk to them.  When i interview a candidate and determine that they are not a fit, i tell them they arent a fit, and i tell them why. I'm polite, im frank, and im nice about it. Generally speaking, there is no reason NOT to be nice in my opinion... 

I agree with Joseph Brown - nice doesn't mean super fake, nor does it mean you need to hold back the truth when a Candidate just doesn't fit or doesn't meet the requirements.  I literally just got off the phone with a Candidate who doesn't meet our requirments, and I was honest with him, and encouraged him to continue searching for positions more inline with his degree - he thanked me for the advice and the opportunity to speak with me.  That is just one human being being kind and considerate to another - aka NICE

I guess the short answer to your question is unfortunately no if you are measuring success in strictly financial terms.  One of the most financially successful recruiters that I ever met was in fact one of the most disagreeable, rude and unprofessional a- holes walking this earth.  But he had a great database of people and desperate clients would put up with his attitude because he was able to deliver quality talent quickly.  I can only hope that in his case, money did not buy him happiness because he certainly didn't deserve it.  Cheers!

Dalton (played by Patrick Swayze) the Cooler, in the movie Road House, said it best:

Dalton: "I want you to be nice until it's time to not be nice."

Memorable quotes for
Road House (1989) More at IMDbPro »

When being nice is based on withholding the truth of the matter—tell the truth.  It may not be appreciated but it will remind people that you may rain on their parade if they want your honest opinion.

In the work of recruitment I’ve found that being decent and respectful goes a long way—but being honest goes even further.  Yes, it comes with a price—you may turn-off people you never wanted to turn on.

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