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Candidate relationships - the key to long-term success in IT recruitment

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Any industry, whether B2B or B2C, has people at its core. With the addition of various technological layers between recruiter and candidate, we often forget the basics – human interaction and respect are the cornerstones of what recruitment should focus on. Buzz-words, trends and processes now stand between these two key elements of the recruitment process.

Recruitment technology has its place. It is a hugely important tool in the arsenal of a successful recruiter. The issue comes when these systems are used in a vacuum. Too often, we risk seeing candidates as another KPI or metric, when instead they should be considered as individuals – often with the potential for long term return on investment. New recruiters are often guilty of falling in to this trap, making quick deals to hit target and stay ahead of their peers. This process, while highly effective in driving placements, is flawed.

Incentivising short-term results means that recruiters can place candidates into roles, which they are not suited for, and then subsequently leave. On paper, this has the effect of making a recruiter look successful – after all, they have filled a role and earned a commission. In reality, this strategy creates a culture of mistrust – damaging the relationship with both the client, who has lost a key staff member, and the candidate, who will seek a recruitment partner with better understanding of their unique needs and requirements.

Incentivising long-term success in recruitment

The current state of recruitment often does not favour long-term strategies. The most effective senior recruiters treat candidates with the utmost respect - in return they get the same. Instead of seeing clients and candidates as numbers and metrics, when recruiters are viewed as partners in a search, the relationship surpasses short-term, and helps secure their loyalty for any future searches.

The best recruiters will see a candidate as a partner. In the past, I have warned candidates that they are filling the position of a person who was let go. Whilst some may consider this a risky strategy, it is a key element of making sure that the candidate is not only right for the role, but is also fully prepared for the potential challenges it will bring. There is a risk with any hiring process – it is a hallmark of successful recruiters to identify, and work to mitigate it. A candidate may well be qualified from the perspective of skills and experience, but to assess personality – just how well the candidate will perform – requires a degree of personal investment from a recruiter.

This has further benefits from a business perspective. Instead of placing a candidate into a role only to decide it is not right for them, a recruiter placing a properly vetted candidate helps to develop a long-term relationship with all involved, as well as a reputation for excellence. If a relationship based on trust, transparency and communications is not forthcoming, it limits the effectiveness of a candidate, and influences the longevity of a recruiter in their industry.

Recruitment involves a large amount of work behind the scenes – a form of consultancy. A candidate and recruiter will often cross paths on projects which do not convert, often despite a time investment reviewing a CV or offering strategic advice. Far from being a wasted resource, candidates remember good experiences and often return for further opportunities.

Recruiters then develop smarter conversations, cultivating warmer leads - not every placement need start from a cold lead. The role of the recruiter is, in short, to make deals. The difference between new hires and experienced recruitment professionals is simple - effectiveness. A Senior Recruiter goes beyond KPIs to develop relationships with candidate, ensuring that when they seek another job, they return – the recruitment equivalent of a boomerang hire. While technology can assist in this process, at its core, recruitment is the same process it has always been – people finding people.

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