By Carmen Lapham, Director of Recruiting and Operations, Q4B
Someone once asked me to give them some advice about the recruiting business and my thoughts on what it takes to be a successful recruiter. Most of the answers that I gave were pretty straight forward, namely, you have to be persistent, willing to take rejection after rejection; you have to know your market; you have to be creative; you must be able to make connections not just with people but with information about companies, candidates and how that information can best be presented; you must have a goal, have a plan and understand that the recruiting business is a numbers game. In other words you have to sell, yourself, your candidates, your client’s opportunity, your organization, your ability to deliver what you promised. You have to be a successful sales person.
Midway through my response to this individual I had the sense that what was being asked was not what I was answering. This individual was looking for the quick, easy answer and we all know that no matter what business you are in, there are no quick, easy answers to how to be successful.
Looking back on this incident I should have handled it differently. I should have asked the individual a question instead of immediately jumping off into giving my 30 second elevator speech answer. The question I should have asked was “Do you know how to ask the right questions?” Being able to ask the right questions is truly the key to success for recruiters, sales people in general and many other professions.
But just asking the right questions is not enough. In a recent blog post from Jim Connolly (one of the marketing thought leaders that Q4B follows) the suggestion is made that there are three additional components to be considered when seeking the best and most complete answers to your “right questions”. You need to ask the right people, you need to ask more questions and you need to question the answers.
Isn’t that what good recruiters do?
In our case, the right people are the hiring managers, the decision makers who can give us answers regarding the position that needs to be filled, why it is open, what the requirements are, the must haves, the performance expectations, the sense of urgency, the profile of the person who last held the position, the opportunity, the selling points for our candidates as to why they would want to work there and an understanding of realistic salary ranges for the position.
And based on the answers that we get from the above questions, we ask more questions in order to get a deeper and more complete understanding of the job order that we are working to fill, the type of relationship that we can expect to have with the client (cooperative or not) and the level of commitment on the part of the client to interviewing and hiring our candidates.
And we sometimes need to question the answers if they don’t ring true or sound too canned. Asking why is the position open and getting the answer that the company is expanding should prompt more questions that will in turn provide better and more complete information that can be used to sell our candidates on the opportunity. Asking what are the performance expectations for the position and getting a laundry list of requirements (see JATS) should elicit more questions about what the candidate needs to be able to do in the first 90 to 180 days and what the client will be evaluating the new hire on when it comes time for review.
There needs to be an understanding between recruiters and hiring managers and decision makers that both sides know that the only reason a company is hiring is that they have a problem. It could be a good problem or a bad problem but it is a problem. And any company that we contact should be asking us one question, their right question and that is “Can you solve my problem?”
So, what would your answer be?