As recruiters, we like to think of ourselves as flexible and adaptable given the rapid pace of change in our profession. We’re the kind of people that manage change well – maybe even welcome it. But is that the reality? Years ago, a manager told me how important it is to be flexible and adaptable to the changing business needs that impact the recruiting environment I was supporting. I fully agreed, but the advice didn’t really resonate until a few situations tested my mettle. It took managing unexpected and unpredictable circumstances for me to really understand what it means to be flexible, and how important flexibility is to being a successful recruiter. As a leader in the recruiting world, I want to share the lessons I’ve learned about how to be successful by having flexibility with processes, sourcing strategy, and attitude.
All recruiters have worked with different processes and approaches to systems, and it is important to articulate your past experience in working with systems so your leader can gauge training effectively. Everyone has a least favorite ATS, and it may seem that using an Excel spreadsheet is a better and faster solution. Ok, I may be exaggerating, but I have heard that comment more than once. My mantra has been to figure out how to make this not-so-perfect ATS our BFF! One of the ways to do this is to create a WebEx training for the ATS. My approach with the teams I lead is to figure out which recruiter is most knowledgeable about a particular ATS, and that person shares best practices and workflow shortcuts that benefit the whole team.
Another piece in recruiting is really following a good process flow so there is some predictability on what hiring managers (HM) can expect from you. I’ve realized most hiring teams don’t have a recruiting process in place, and you can add value when you create a process flow, follow it and reiterate it. This doesn’t mean that you can’t go out of process should you need to, but your process should be a good guideline. With that said, you need to articulate the process to your HM, but also show some flexibility to gain their credibility. For example, we typically like to send candidates that are screened to provide better quality for our HMs. With some HMs you need to gain credibility, so sending them calibration resumes prior to screening is a good way to get their buy-in. This shows your flexibility, but still aligns with the process that was created. All HMs work differently and need to know that they are being heard.
While processes are critical to ensure we are delivering to our KPIs and keeping our team accountable, flexibility allows us to service different types of verticals. Recruiters who have a flexible mindset can recruit for any type of position, in any location, by using the same basic practices. Recruiters should research local markets they are recruiting in and almost pretend that they live there. Try to understand the culture, know where people look for jobs, and know the current weather forecast. It puts candidates at ease when you can relate on some common ground, even if it is weather! One of my favorite sites to research locations is Sperling’s Best Places at http://www.bestplaces.net/. I also use the Bureau of Labor Statistics to better understand local labor market trends: http://www.bls.gov/home.htm. Having market research is also important to be consultative with clients. Telling a client you can’t find the right candidate never works, but presenting research and what’s truly out in the market builds your credibility.
For example, let’s take a vertical like skilled trades roles which are advertised differently than professional roles. A skilled trades recruiting strategy usually takes a grassroots approach, such as looking into post offices, local hangouts and skilled trade blogs. You can’t use the same approach to recruit talent for all positions, so do your homework to find the right technique. If you are stuck, ask a peer or someone that has expertise in the field.
Recruiter-authored, vertical-specific recruiting guides are another good sourcing strategy tool. These vertical-specific (e,g. Engineering, IT and Skilled Trades) recruiting guides allow a recruiter to pick up best practices and understand how to attract talent with a particular skill set. The guide should include sourcing strategies, challenges and tips for overcoming those challenges. This saves time when an HM needs a quick turn-around.
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Attitude is Everything
Last, but not least, is showing flexibility in your attitude with your manager. Attitude is truly everything, and it is the reason most leaders will hire you. Of course there is the skill set piece, but having the wrong attitude is a deal breaker. It’s important to be adaptable and stay calm when something isn’t going as planned. Leaders want recruiters who are flexible, not just with the tools they use, but how they react in terms of attitude. If you assume that things are ever-changing, more often than not, it will train you to have a flexible attitude. Also, you are making yourself more marketable as a recruiter if you keep this at the forefront.
It’s not about the challenges we face as it is how we deal with those challenges. Having top performing recruiters with the right mindset is how we produce high quality candidates efficiently and quickly. Flexibility and the ability to adapt to the constantly changing business climate are required to be a true champion in recruiting. I will leave you with this funny quote about flexibility. “As long as everything is exactly the way I want it, I am totally flexible.” – Author Unknown.
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