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'What's in It for Me?' How Recruiters Can Answer This Question for Hiring Managers and Candidate

Two women sitting opposite a table

As a recruiter, your two greatest challenges are to fill open requisitions with top talent and help the candidates you represent advance in their careers.

Recruiting is a relationship-building business, and if you want to be more successful, hiring managers and candidates must understand how working with you benefits them.

In any type of relationship, people want to know three things:

  1. That they can trust you
  2. That you care about them
  3. That you will do what you promise

You will be judged on what you do rather than what you say

When reaching out to candidates, refrain from pitching a specific opportunity or what you can do for this person. These “what we do” or pitch presentations do not work, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when people are filled with uncertainty.

During my training sessions, I advise recruiters to envision a tattoo on the forehead of every candidate they address. The tattoo is five big letters that read WIIFM: What’s in it for me? When you keep that question in mind, you will approach your candidates differently and you will differentiate yourself from other recruiters.

Candidates, especially hard-to-attract top talent, are being bombarded by calls from recruiters. They often complain during the weekly webinars I conduct for job seekers that recruiters reach out to them pitching a specific job they would never consider. As a result, the recruiter loses credibility and the candidate ignores the recruiter’s email, text, InMail or voicemail.

If you want to show candidates how you can benefit them, start out by suggesting a conversation to discuss what they want to do next in their career. When you show interest in learning about what they see as their next career move, it is a totally different conversation.

Use these six words often when talking to candidates: “I take my direction from you.” This encourages the candidate to provide you with direction. Refrain from pitching a specific opportunity until AFTER your discussion, because now you have a clear understanding of what this person sees as their next career move.

Candidates will find it refreshing if you share that now that you understand what is most important to them, the job you had in mind is not a fit. Explain that you will keep them in mind for future positions that are available. If you are a third-party recruiter, identify companies they would most like to work for and why, and then market their skills to their preferred companies. You may also represent other clients who could offer them the career advancement they desire.

What's most important for hiring managers?

They want you to make them look good by hiring talent that provides them with a strong ROI. This time is perfect to slow down your intake or sales process long enough to determine what is most important to your prospects, clients or internal hiring managers.

Whether you are an internal talent acquisition professional or a third-party recruiter, the more you understand about the challenges, problems and current reality of your hiring managers, the better job you can do to attract the BEST talent.

If you are working from home, get to know and understand every hiring manager to develop a rapport and trust. Become the best listener in their life: listening to them to understand where they are coming from rather than to provide them with a solution. Determine the culture of the department and possible skills, experience and personalities that each hiring manager prefers. Hiring managers need to understand how you can benefit them, make them look good and fill their requisitions with the best talent by their target date to hire.

If you are a third-party recruiter, refrain from selling your services until you understand your prospects’ greatest challenge. This understanding allows you to position yourself as the logical solution. Right now, your prospects and clients will buy your services, but do not want to be sold to. They must understand how and why you can benefit them more than your competition.

Help hiring authorities realize there are many creative ways to convert their hiring process to a remote process. Many companies are realizing virtual interviews are saving them time and money while providing them with access to a much larger talent pool. They will also benefit because an initial virtual screening interview can help eliminate emotion and bias from hiring decisions.

Lastly, position yourself as a workforce/workplace expert to your hiring authorities. If the only time you talk to them is when you have an open requisition or when you are making money, they will not view you as a trusted advisor or consultant. Check-in with them to see how they and their families are doing. Offer to share information on what their competitors are doing. Share the new questions they will be asked during interviews, including social distancing, PPE provided and opportunities to work remotely, so they are prepared.

When you become the sounding board for your hiring managers and candidates, they become even more aware of the many benefits they enjoy when working with you.