In today's ERE, Dr. John Sullivan talks about why managers don't respect recruiting and what recruiting departments can do about it (he basically recommends thinking about recruiting in the same way managers think about their businesses).
But what if you are a recruiter sitting at your desk wondering what YOU can do about it? So you aren't empowered to change how you are paid or how you are measured. I've been on a little bit of a campaign lately to get recruiters to recognize what they can do as an individual contributor level that helps the cause of recruiting in general (and frankly, that kind of grassroots empowerment has a lot to do with blogging). So launching off of Dr. John's article, let me give a couple recommendations on what an individual recruiter can do to win the love of their client, based on my experience here.
1) Dr. John talks about employment branding. I've had a dialog going with some folks over in the ERE networking site about the subject as well. Employment branding may sound like something that a marketing person for your company does. Well, it is...kind of...and you are that marketing person. I think about it with regard to my interactions with people all the time. It's about how I answer e-mail, conversations I have with people on the phone. We are all responsible for it and if you are waiting for your company to fix your employment branding issues, and you haven't thought about what you can do, you are late to the party.
This is particularly relevant to me in my job because I recruit marketing people. Candidates and clients in my space get branding. By helping our marketing leadership here see that I get it as well truly helps build credibility. So I make sure that I am not only participating in employment branding, but I talk to people about it. Part of the recruiter role is being an evangelist for positive employment branding inside and outside the company. It helps your clients see that you aren't just a paper pusher...you get the big picture.
2) I think the biggest impact on my ability to craft strong partnering relationships with my internal clients has been my interest in their business and my ability to understand it. This isn't just about sitting in a meeting with a hiring manager and asking about their business challenges and competitors. It's about demonstrating that understanding. It's about understanding their business landscape now and understanding where their business is going so that you can help drive long term recruiting strategies. The tactical day-to-day stuff gets the jobs filled but it doesn't necessarily establish you as a partner to the business. Your ability to anticipate future needs based on business challenges, to understand organizational skill deficiencies and create actionable plans to fill the holes and your deep understanding of the competitive landscape will have a huge impact on how you are perceived by your clients. Early on, I got over feeling like I was asking stupid questions because I found that my clients appreciated that I wanted to get their space. Over time, I just leveraged that new learning to have meaningful conversations with my clients and candidates. It's an investment that pays off big time in client satisfaction.
3) Another key element, I feel, in establishing a great relationship with internal clients is not only doing what you say you are going to do, but setting milestones. Many hiring managers feel that recruiters are very reactive. Whichever hiring manager complains gets the attention (where are those resumes? have you screened that candidate yet?). By doing some prioritizing of positions (based on business need...not how long the position has been open, not level of position), I have been able to create commitments to my clients and demonstrate my partnership with them by meeting those commitments. It could be something as small as having X number of screened candidates in their inbox by a certain day. The hardest part of that, given how busy any day can be, is getting comfortable with creating those commitments. I've mentioned before that one way I motivate myself to get the right things done is to say out loud that I am going to do it (or posting it on my blog). Say it out loud to your hiring managers (also, you'd be surprised at how interested they are in some of your candidate generation efforts...share with them...market yourself as a partner). "I'll get you some resumes as soon as I can" is not what a client wants to hear from a business partner. "I'll have 4 screened candidates in your inbox by end of week...when can I expect to hear back from you?" is what they expect from a true partner.
I guess the common theme here is being proactive. I'll probably blog on some of these topics in the near future. This is my blog on caffeine but I think I have a lot more to say when my latte buzz wears off. I'd also be interested in hearing from recruiters and hiring managers out there on your experiences...if you think back to some great recruiter/business partnerships that you have been involved in, what led to the success?