The Key Ways I Differentiate Myself as a Recruiter

When I first started my recruiting career I wasn't even on the ground floor; the reality was I didn't have keys to the building.  My knowledge of SAP software was nonexistent and I knew very little about full lifecycle recruiting.  However, I had compassion for people and the right personality for the job.  What I quickly learned was that Recruiters can be a dime a dozen to prospective candidates.  I noticed that certain candidates would treat our interaction like they would never hear from me again.  What was the reason for this?  The simple answer: bad candidate experiences with fly by night recruiters.  So I came up with a plan for how I was going to differentiate myself as a professional recruiter.  Here are the 5 fundamental principles I follow:

Get to Know the Individual Behind the Skill Set

I developed a business-personal approach to my recruiting process.  The key is to find ways to relate to people on a more personal level.  This builds trust and credibility.  Does the person have kids? Are they taking care of an elderly parent? Do they love the excitement of being on the road for a new project? Do they have a condition that prohibits them from flying?  Finding out important personal information in the same conversation as assessing skill set and overall personality is crucial while qualifying a candidate.  Take a genuine interest in the person.  Often times I will share information about my family and my personal interests while getting to know more about a person.  I try to avoid sounding like a robot or an interrogator (that never makes for a good conversation).  Do not be afraid to be personal while being a professional. 

In my last blog post I talked about understanding what motivates a candidate.  By getting to know more about the person you are working with, it allows for a comprehensive understanding of a candidate’s job situation, personal interests, personality, and much more.  By getting essential information you can avoid surprises when candidates take another offer and understand why they took another offer.  This will lighten the blow and make failure easier to accept.  Get to know the individual and put yourself in a position for a successful placement and a lasting relationship.  If you do not make the placement, at least you have credibility from the positive experience. 

Do Not Oversell an Opportunity

Not every opportunity you have is a great opportunity for a candidate.  In instances where I am speaking to a candidate for the first time, I find out why my opportunity is great for them rather than telling them “I have a great opportunity”.  This gives you the chance to listen and learn about the person you are speaking to.  Overselling an opportunity is lazy.  Understand your candidate, what motives them, and let them sell you why it’s a great opportunity for them.  Sometimes a job description differs from when the person actually gets to the client.  If you oversell the position you can lose your credibility.  When working on a position for a new client, let a candidate know.   Unpredictable moments happen, but it is important to salvage your credibility.  Credibility, your name and reputation are everything.  This is why I set and manage realistic expectations.

Set and Manage Realistic Expectations

Context is extremely important.  Let the candidate know how long it usually takes to get an interview (if you have that info).  Share the interview, offer and onboarding process and make sure the timeline is realistic given the situation.  If you know your client takes 2 weeks to interview and onboard cover that upfront.  This will save you the extra work and hassle.  If you know your client takes several weeks to onboard, and the candidate has interviewed for 5 different positions, explain why the situation does not make sense.  Be transparent.  Follow through with what you tell your candidates.  Be punctual.  Be consistent.

Follow Up

The time between submitting a candidate and getting them an interview is extremely important.  This is when I get to know even more about the person I am working with.  Follow up daily with an email or a phone call (preferably a phone call).  This shows that you are invested in the opportunity and that you care.  Find out if anything has changed each day you connect.    My conversations continue to be business-personal throughout the entire process.  Again, this step is important because I need to know what has changed while showing I care enough to follow up.  Professional recruiters follow up with their candidates.

Stay in Touch

Whether I place someone in a full time position or on a contract I always check in to see how things are going.  Most of my experience has been in contract recruitment so keeping in touch with people is paramount for future placements.  Availability can change at a moment’s notice, an extension could be coming, or the person could hate the project and be looking to leave.  The most valuable piece of information for a contract recruiter is candidate availability.  I track candidate availability constantly.  For resources currently on a project I follow up every 2-4 weeks.  For all other candidates, I check in 4-6 weeks before their contract end date.  By staying in touch you can plan ahead, build relationships, and achieve greater success.  

By following these fundamental principles, I have been able to successfully grow my network, build relationships, establish trust and credibility, receive excellent referrals and make more placements.  Being a professional recruiter is about doing a lot of little things right.  There are thousands of recruiters out there.  How do you differentiate yourself?  Please share!

Views: 1382

Comment by Katrina Kibben on February 5, 2015 at 1:55pm

This is awesome - thanks so much for sharing! We just posted it as a discussion on our LinkedIn Group as well if you'd like to chime in: ;

Comment by Brian VanDerveer on February 5, 2015 at 1:58pm

Thank you Katrina I am glad you enjoyed the post! 

Comment by Becky Northrup on February 9, 2015 at 3:30pm

Great tips and reminders for recruiters at all levels, Brian

Comment by Steve Levy on February 10, 2015 at 6:57am

Good one Brian. However, I can see most every recruiter saying aloud, "I do that and that ad that. Damn I'm a great recruiter." Can you differentiate some of these a bit more in such a way that some of these "damn I'm great" folks might start wondering if in fact they are?

Comment by Brian VanDerveer on February 13, 2015 at 5:44pm

Steve- Sorry for the delayed response!  Thank you for the comment.  I am with you, some folks might read this and go I am a superstar because I do all of these things already.  The reality is, you can do all of these things and still be terrible at qualifying a candidate.  If a recruiter is not EXCELLENT at qualifying and disqualifying a candidate all the other points are irrelevant.  So, when getting to know about a person asking the right questions to assess the skill set is critical to understanding if you have a winner.  Wish I had some more time but I did want to at least make that comment.  If you have anything else you think is equally as critical please share!  I will hopefully be posting another blog this weekend.  


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