Recruitment is a complex business. In any other sales role, the salesperson gets to focus on the customer, but recruiters have to balance the needs of both the hiring manager and the candidate. It’s too simplistic to regard the candidate as the product, because the candidate has free will and will do what’s right for them, regardless of what your client might want! You want the best candidates and the best clients, and as with any relationship, that process can only begin with you.
How can you be at your best in order to deliver the service that you want, to the clients and candidates who you want to work with?
In my 25 years teaching the art of pitching and helping professionals to master the art of communication, I’ve noticed that there are a number of common mistakes that people make. For example, they ask for what they don’t want instead of what they do want. It seems so obvious when you read it in black and white, yet I bet you’ve done it yourself. We all have, when our focus is on avoiding rather than achieving. So, I want to pull out a few simple tips that I believe will help you to simply get more of what you want!
Many self-styled business and self-help gurus will tell you about how to stand, how to sound and where to look in order to be persuasive. But these are superficial, designed to emulate credibility, and we’re all experts in seeing through that kind of ruse. We’ve all listened to a candidate and had the feeling that their story is too good to be true, or just doesn’t add up in some way. If you’re pretending to be persuasive, it’s because, in your heart, you know that you are not. It’s far simpler to know that you are persuasive and to let your words and actions flow naturally.
Ask for what you want
So what do we mean by ‘persuasive’? If you want something and you can get someone to give it to you, is that persuasive? What about when you buy a newspaper? Do you persuade the newsagent to give it to you using your powerful mind skills? Or do you simply ask? The first tip is simply to ask for what you want. Exactly, precisely, what you want. Nothing more, nothing less. You will be amazed at how little resistance people offer, and if you think about it now, why should they? As long as what you’re asking for is useful for them too, they wouldn’t say anything other than “yes!”.
Forget the tricks
In fact, while I’ve said that this was the first tip, the more I think about it, the more useful it is. Do you ever get nervous? It’s because you’re trying to control what will happen by imagining the worst. So instead, think about what you want and ask for what you want. Maybe you’re pitching to a new client for their recruitment business? Ask for it. Maybe you’re pitching a role to a candidate? Ask for what you want. Cold calling? Stop trying to trick the prospect into listening to you, ask for what you want.
What’s the worst that can happen?
I mean, really, really. It’s not what you’ve been thinking. The worst that can happen is that they say “no”. What do you do in that case? You pick the phone up to the next prospect. You call the next candidate. You move on. By saying no, the prospect is helping you to become far more productive, because you’ll make more calls in less time and from those calls you’ll talk to more potential clients and increase your chances that you’ll be talking to them before your competitor does. We all know that the winner isn’t the person with the best product, it’s the person who gets there first.
Go for what you want
Whatever you’re doing in your recruitment role, whether you’re working with contingent or retained clients, whether you’re headhunting or collecting CVs, whether you’re working for one client or many, you’re dealing with people, day in, day out. Colleagues, suppliers, candidates and clients. Focusing clearly on what you want, what you can realistically achieve, what that actually means to you and then asking for it will give you greater success than you might imagine.
I’ll end by asking you for what I want: take my advice and get going!
About the author: Paul Boross is the “Pitch Doctor”, an internationally recognised authority on communications, presentation, performance and “the art and science of persuasion”. Paul has worked with executives at the BBC, Google, The Financial Times, Barclays and MTV, as well as Sir Richard Branson, Ainsley Harriott and Sky newscaster, Dermot Murnaghan. Paul is the resident team psychologist and presenter on the on-going SKY TV series School of Hard Knocks.