Talent Circles

Monday, December 29, 2014

How to Talk to and Not At Your Job Seeker Candidates

By Jessica Miller-Merrell

Recruiting strategies are the key to successfully guiding your talent acquisition efforts, but at the heart of that strategy is something so foundational that without it, your strategy won’t succeed –Relationships. Our connections with people will always be the heart of any strategy or employment brand campaign. If strategies and campaigns are the road map we follow, relationships are the vehicle that carries us to our destination.

It’s kind of surprising that given the fact that relationships are so vital to a recruiter’s success, I see so many who struggle to build quality relationships with prospective candidates.

A lot of the struggle to foster relationships boils down to one thing: how we talk to job seekers and candidates. All too often we talk at, not with, candidates. It’s important that recruiters master this aspect of their business because candidates will seek out information from one place or another, whether it’s from the recruiter or elsewhere. This was proven by research published by Conference Executive Board that shared that 80% of candidates seek information about a potential employer from outside sources. This high number raises the question of whether or not candidates are even getting adequate information from their recruiter in the first place. When candidates come to you over outside sources, you have more influence over how their opinion of the company is shaped and get an opportunity to address concerns right out of the gate and help them feel comfortable with the potential transition.

Use these four strategies to build better connections with job seekers by speaking with, not at, them:

Create a conversation, not a lecture
Across all aspects of life, many of us are guilty of performing monologues rather than creating conversations. It’s especially important to make the most of the time you have when communicating with a job seeker, so you must find a balance between sharing and obtaining the information you need and creating a two-way conversation. No one likes to be talked at, so treat your candidate like you would a new friend and create an exchange of information that helps you get to know each other better.

Meet them where they are
Recruiters tend to do a good job of reaching out to candidates in their natural habitat, whether that’s on LinkedIn, through email, by phone or on Twitter. We know we have to meet them where they are initially, but all too often, we make the candidate do the work after that initial point of contact. The best way to maintain conversation is to be consistent and easy to get in touch with.

You know how any given conversation helps you –you’re gauging their interest, asking them to apply or seeking further details, but how do each of these conversations benefit them? Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes and ask yourself, if I’m the candidate, what’s in it for me? How does the conversation at hand provide value to them as well? If you’re only thinking about what you can get out of a conversation, it will be apparent. 

Build a personal connection
At the end of the day, every conversation should be a baby step in fostering a connection with the candidate. If they feel connected to you as a person, they’re more likely to reply to an email, answer their phone and even trust you. So consider whether or not you create an enjoyable, relaxed and open environment. In short, would you want to talk to you?

These four strategies do far more than help you build a relationship that will turn the candidate into an employee. They also help to create brand ambassadors for you even before a candidate is hired. By building a relationship and rapport with our candidates for the long term, they turn into much more than just candidates. They can easily be our biggest champions and brand ambassadors.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s is the Chief Blogger & Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter @jmillermerrell


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