At Crelate we have been working closely with a number of excellent executive search firms, recruiting firms, staffing agencies and internal recruiting departments to develop the applicant tracking module of our talent management software.  As we help more and more recruiters get organized and make the most of technology, we have recognized some common recruiting strategies across the highest performers.  This led us to study the practices of high performing recruiters (HPRs) so we could tailor our software to meet their needs. The following strategies apply to any recruiter, whether you are an internal recruiter at a growing business or a specialized industry headhunter.

This post is the first in a three part series.

Recruiting Strategies for Making Connections

Connections Diagram for Mark Barrett

Mark’s Facebook Connections, courtesy of Friend Wheel.

One common practice we see among high performing recruiters is that they are always making connections.  They understand that their business is to know people, and the only way to get to know people is to get out and get involved.  They will talk with anyone who wants to speak with them, and they are always making phone calls, taking lunches, and otherwise making sure they are in front of someone.  They also understand that a connection is a two way street, and they are happy to help and connect others.

1. HPRs take the time to speak with just about anyone

My grandmother used to tell me that the way you treat people on the way up is the way you will get treated on the way down.  This version of the golden rule – treat people the way you would like to be treated – is a mantra for high performing recruiters.  Most HPRs I know will meet with anyone who wants to speak with them — even if they know ahead of time that person may not be a fit for their company or any searches they have open.  HPRs understand that there is value in every connection – that person may never be a fit but they might introduce you to 5 people who could help you over the lifetime of that relationship.  They’ll also take the time to track the relationship – whether that is capturing an activity history or just making a few notes about the interaction.

2. HPRs know it’s all about the phone

All the great recruiters and headhunters I know spend over 75% of their time on the phone.  When they are not on the phone they are sharing a meal or coffee with someone, or attending a networking event.  Sure, they will text or send the occasional email, especially if that is the way the person they are trying to reach prefers to communicate, but they know that real time communication is best. After drafting this post, we spoke with a former recruiter who now develops technology for the recruiting market.  He told us this story, which he gave us permission to post anonymously.  It’s a great illustration as to why picking up the phone is perhaps the most important recruiting strategy of all.

I almost didn’t make it as a recruiter at first.  I was hired by [a firm] out of college, went through the training, and then went out on the floor for my first real day on the job.  I later learned from my boss that it took me 29 minutes to pick up the phone and start making calls.  The company policy was to walk you out the door if you didn’t make a phone call in the first 30 minutes.

We can’t stress it enough – don’t get into this business if you don’t love being on the phone – you have to love it!

3. HPRs connect others

Every great recruiter I know is a serial networker through and through.  And that means not only are they making connections that will benefit themselves but they are also encouraging connections to prosper between people within their network.  They are always saying things like “do you know so and so?  Oh you two need to meet!”   or “I think I know someone who might be interested in meeting you.  And then they take the steps to facilitate the introduction. The strategy of connecting others keeps you top of mind in the talent community.  A recruiter saying “You two need to meet!” and then making a meaningful introduction between two people gets those folks saying great things about the recruiter.  When they need to meet someone – because they are looking for a new job, or looking to hire someone, they turn to the people who made a good connection for them in the past.

Next Week – Recruiting Strategies for Successful Communication