Organisations are only as strong as their talent, and attracting the best people has never been more challenging. Many organisations are responding to the competitive labour market by upping salary and benefits and increasing flexibility around work from home options. These are all well and good, but they are superficial. Psychologically speaking, the deepest needs that candidates have are to find a place where they feel they belong, and where they believe they can make a meaningful contribution.
In this context, the role of the recruiter is vital. Recruiters need to be able to quickly establish rapport with candidates, and to develop a strong relationship with them. They need to be able to help candidates relax and open up, so that important information about their strengths, background, and abilities can come forward. Simultaneously, they need to be able to help candidates see the organisation as a place where they can belong and make important contributions.
Even if it turns out that the candidate is not a good fit for a current job, they need to leave the candidate with a positive perception of the company’s workplace culture. Glassdoor has become the equivalent of Yelp for employers, and both candidates and employees are not shy about being vocal about their experience. Whether positive or negative, word about the candidate’s experience can spread to others who are considering applying for a job at the company. By attending to the social and relational needs of candidates, recruiters can do their part to ensure that the company has a good reputation that is attractive to talent.
Given all this, the sad fact is that many recruiters are distracted from building these relationships by transactional, bureaucratic tasks. Speaking from my own experience, I once spent a day in interviews for a position at a certain company. Everybody was so busy staring at their sheet of pre-written questions and taking notes on my responses that they never made eye contact with me. That same day, I called to withdraw my candidacy for the position, and I’ve never spoken well of the company since.
Most recruiters are attracted to the work that they do because they like getting to know people, and the paperwork side of things can be an irksome distraction. There’s no way an unhappy, disengaged recruiter is going to be an effective ambassador for your organisation's brand as an employer! On the contrary, companies should be making sure that they streamline the work of the recruiter as much as possible. For instance, companies can invest in state of the art tools that can automatically transcribe interviews so that the recruiter doesn’t have to take notes, and can evaluate responses to interview questions after the fact. By doing so, they free recruiters to do what they do best and what will really add the most value to the organisation: build positive relationships with candidates, and thereby make the company more and more attractive to talented people.