What it Means to be a Recruiting Leader in 2018

Some people are natural-born leaders. They have a certain influential quality that makes others stop and pay attention. The best ones wear it lightly, too. People naturally want to do what they’re doing, read what they’re reading and hopefully enjoy some of the same successes. But what if you’re not one of the lucky ones whose DNA and life experiences somehow combined to make you a person who’s always out in front?

RELATED: 4 Ways Top Recruiters Nail Their Branding as a Leader

Don’t worry, you’re not doomed to hang out in the shadows. You might never transform into a recruiting household name. But you can hone your craft and develop skills that make you invaluable in the eyes of candidates and employers.

These issues will become increasingly important throughout the coming year. Get a head start now and you might just surprise yourself.

If You’re Not Good at Sales, You’re Not a Recruiting Leader

It’s really that simple. Recruiting is sales. Sales skills are required for scouting and recruiting like a boss. Without sales skills, you’re as proficient as a chef who’s got a great set of cookware and a nifty white hat but doesn’t know how to boil an egg.

Morgan Hoogvelt, global talent acquisition director for Acelity, writes at ERE that recruiters sell in every direction. They sell candidates on the beauties of a job opportunity. And they sell employers on the skills, aptitudes and overall fitness of a candidate.

Every day, all day long, recruiters are in the business of selling. So how are your sales chops? If you break it down to the basics of sales, not specifically sales in recruiting, you might get a clearer picture of what you have and what you need to develop. Sometimes, clarity comes from the mere act of writing out the list.

Here’s what Selling Power says you should consider:

  • What is your business niche? What do you do and who needs you to do it?
  • What are your ongoing goals? How many calls, emails, social media posts and text screenings do you initiate every month? How do you measure success in those goals? Where do you need to improve your numbers?
  • What do your customers or clients really need? Remember that they might not fully understand, either. Sometimes, you have to tease out the information through investigative conversations.
  • Can you sell to their actual needs? A company might need to hire a person for Job A, but deeper than that, they need more efficiency in Job A’s department. A candidate might need a job, but on a deeper level, they need a job that gives them a sense of purpose or social responsibility or whatever resonates with them.
  • Can you curate a public persona that gets the right kind of attention? Of course, you can. But you’ll also need smart marketing skills and excellent communication.

Those are just a handful of sales requirements as viewed through the lens of a company that develops better salespeople. They know whereof they speak. The heart of the issue is that recruiting is sales. If you want to be a leader, sales chops are non-negotiable.

Recruiting technology
Communication skills make or break professional reputations.

2013 Called; They Want Their Corporate-Speak Back

If you want to source smart, savvy job candidates, approach them as intellectual peers. That’s how trust is developed. Don’t worry about sounding like a crashing bore for using full sentences with proper punctuation. Corporate-speak is so common now, plain language seems almost trendy again.

Business, in general, is moving toward plain language, and it’s for good reason. The sea of not-especially-Earth-shattering recruiters advertise all the nouns they can #hashtag. Those on top have a renewed faith in the power of being (and sounding) smart. Incidentally, hashtags do have a job; they make content searchable, particularly on certain social media channels. That’s it.

No one ever really bought into mutant words, catchphrases and nonsensical but clever-looking hashtags in the first place. Many people assumed everyone else knew something they didn’t, and so they played along. But something funny happened on the way to the blog: search results favored those that had something real to say.

The Center for Plain Language says ”smooth and simple” text drives in more traffic. That’s reason enough to work on communication. Here are two sentences plucked directly from the Center’s website. The first is written in corporate-speak. The second is written in plain language.

  • Politeness is the conversational construct which tones down inappropriate linguistic solutions.
  • Politeness is the way to avoid awkward situations.

See the difference? Your audience will, too. So will Google.

The Center says these steps improve written communication. Most of them apply to speaking, as well:

  • Think about your target audience and use a communication style that makes sense for them.
  • Use active voice. If you need a primer, the Writing Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has one.
  • Use short, actionable sentences to propel the reader forward.
  • Use a call-to-action. Everything that you write has a purpose. Every purpose needs a call-to-action and something of value once they follow through. If they ”click here,” they need a reward such as a downloadable e-book or something else of value.
  • Make content readable. Articles and blog posts have a basic formula that works: Introduction, body and closing or summary. Short paragraphs and bullets improve scannability, which is just as important as readability.
  • Skip acronyms that aren’t obvious to your audience. You’d sound weird if you always said ”internet technology” instead of the much more common ”IT.” However, an acronym that isn’t common knowledge breaks the magic spell and stalls the reader’s progress through your content.
  • Speak directly to your audience. There’s a difference between using plain language and being too formal.
  1. One should try to speak plainly.
  2. You should use plain language.

Option #1 erects a wall between you and the reader. Option #2 invites them in. Be Option #2.

Recruiting technology
Being personable revolves around genuinely valuing the other person’s time.

Take Personable Communication Seriously

Are you approachable? Do you smile when you’re on a Skype call or on the phone, even though they can’t see you? To you take or make calls at all? Or do your clients and candidates avoid real conversations because you’re either hard to track down or chilly when you do pick up the phone or return an email?

A personable nature is one of the cornerstones of effective recruiting and it’s one of the most powerful brand management tools in your toolbox. If you don’t have it, you’ll have to cultivate it. If you can’t cultivate it, you’re in trouble.

You don’t have to chat about what you had for lunch in order to make the person you’re speaking with feel comfortable. Candidates don’t need verbose emails. They just need to know that you’re focused on them when you communicate and you don’t consider their communication an annoying interruption in your workday.

Friendliness is more about breaking down intimidating barriers than becoming best friends. It’s also more than being polite, as polite is really just the opposite of rudeness.

Think of it as polite +1.

Hoogvelt says recruiters who aren’t personable limit their potential. Why would you intentionally do that, especially if you have a choice?

If a candidate wants to reach out but feels intimidated by your phenomenal cosmic recruiter power, they might never reach out at all. Their loss? Probably not. That’s a loss for you and whichever employer wanted them but didn’t have the chance to meet them before they vanished behind a veil of anonymity.

Candidates and employers might also opt out of working with you if they feel like a pest. Hoogvelt says you can see the difference in action at a career fair.

Personable recruiters have people in the queue waiting for their turn. They engage with their prospects and show respect for their time.

Recruiters who are busy texting, talking, checking out local menus or otherwise not inviting potential job candidates into the fold have few or no people waiting around. But at least they know what’s for lunch.

Embrace Technology as the Life Saver It Is

Recruiting technology exists to be a helper. That’s its only job. If yours doesn’t help you enjoy a more productive and efficient workday, it’s time to think about throwing it out the way you’d ditch that container of mystery food in the back of your fridge. Find something better and don’t look back.

So many advances have graced the recruiting industry with their presence. Imagine what a recruiter in 1975 would have thought about instantaneous mail on an electronic box on their desk (or their phone). Email is so common now, it’s hard to imagine life without it. But there was a time when it was downright shocking.

Technology offers up answers to niggling questions from recruiting days gone by and it does it at a glance. In some cases, it answers questions and makes certain decisions without your involvement at all.

Hello, the future is now.

According to the Society for Human Resource Management, we’re in the midst of a bonafide data and technology revolution. New technology for recruiters emerges at a breakneck pace and it’s smarter, faster and more intuitive than ever.

Why does new technology matter all that much if you’re comfortable with what you’ve got? Think of it in terms of supplies and tools. If you have new supplies to build a house, you still can’t get out of the rain. You also need tools to turn those supplies into something house-shaped. A manual screwdriver might turn a screw, but you’ll be exhausted before you raise the first wall.

It’s the same with data and technology. Data is the supply and technology is the tool that makes it useful. You might find the answers you need using outdated technology, but you’ll waste a lot of time and energy in the process. Here are just a few of the most important tech advances right now:

  • Candidate sourcing and job matching in real time. Not only can you source the whole Internet for candidates that match the profile, you can keep up with changes as they happen. As job requirements evolve or candidates gain qualifications or experience, new matches automatically happen.
  • Myriad data analytics possibilities. If there is something to be known inside a chunk of data, analytics can find it, trim off the fat and put it on your plate in a digestible portion.
  • Predictive analytics. Where have you been all these years? Now, you not only know what has happened, but you can make intelligent predictions about what will happen next time given the same situation. Even more, you can add and subtract factors to make new predictions.
  • Artificial intelligence. Whatever you learn from analyzing data gets churned back in so your technology can also learn from it. And that helps it make certain decisions and take actions without human intervention. It might not order your lunch, but it can decide to generate an automatic follow-up email or post a link on social media so you don’t have to.

Technology growth is exploding now. Unlike what some recruiters might have feared, it won’t put anyone out of work. It will help you use your time for tasks that need personal attention, such as making calls, screening candidates and writing brilliant blog posts.

Becoming a recruitment thought leader doesn’t have to mean outpacing what everyone else does. It’s more a matter of striving for excellence in everything that you do and staying in tune with what’s coming down the pike. Leadership is permanently tied to your business reputation.

Maybe you aren’t cut out to be a great writer. That doesn’t mean you can’t write engaging, informative blog posts that your audience wants to read or hire someone else to write them for you. And maybe you’ll never host your own breakout session at a conference. You can still do an amazing service for the job candidates and employers who rely on you to have their back and care about their needs.

Industry leaders are those whom others want to copy. You could do much worse than becoming an example of ethics and smart, efficient results.

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