Talent Acquisition

Recruiters vs. Candidates: Don’t Burn Bridges, Build Them

Two questions for both recruiters and candidates:

  1. How do you treat others?
  2. Do you treat them how you would like to be treated?

Maybe it should be obvious that you don’t want to burn a bridge with a recruiter, or a recruiter with a candidate… Over these past 20 years, I’ve become curious about human behavior in this industry of talent advancement. Here are some tips for both recruiters and talent to help everyone realize how they can prevent burning a bridge and further develop a much sought-after soft skill:

Say ‘thank you’

You’ve just given the other person 30 minutes of your life. Let’s start with something really basic from our childhood; saying ‘thank you’. It’s a really basic courtesy and sometimes people fail to say two small words that can make a huge impact on your interactions with people and how people perceive you. I was once told that in life you can never go wrong by expressing gratitude. In fact, it has a huge mental upside when you regularly demonstrate gratitude.

When you are in the market for a new job or seeking to advance your career, impressions speak volumes especially among those who don’t have a lot of time to get to know the real you.  Recruiters who are working at the speed of light, take that moment to thank the person who just spent time sharing their life goals with you. Say it genuinely. It takes only two seconds.

Don’t lie

Do not lie to your recruiter about your experience. And recruiters, do not lie to the candidate about the role, the salary range, or anything (as candidates will burn your bridges for other candidates with you, or worse, jeopardize a recruiter’s reputation). Firstly, lying results in loss of trust and falling out of favor. You also risk making the other party look bad if your lie becomes discovered by the company. In short, you’ve just jeopardized everyone’s reputation. People don’t react well to that type of situation.

Candidates; remember a good recruiter will help you strategize around areas of concern if you are otherwise a strong candidate.  And recruiters, if the salary is $200K and the candidate’s base is $500K, don’t lie to them to get them through the door.  No one gets through their entire career unscathed, and mistakes do happen. With the recruitment process, honesty really is the best policy for everyone. Never underestimate the power of honesty in winning an ally. Every area for concern can become a positive development when properly framed.

Stay confidential

Can you handle sensitive information carefully? When dealing with a senior-level position, the ability to handle confidential information is critical, from both the recruiter and candidate.  Corporations need leaders and recruiters who can maneuver difficult, sensitive situations and maintain confidence. When you are interviewing, you may become privy to a lot of information that is not to be shared even with your spouse or mother! You can consider it as a direct test of how effective you really are as a leader or a recruiter.

People who gossip and share secrets about the organization, product, or talent are usually insecure, and clearly lack the emotional maturity needed to manage such a high level of responsibility. Be warned – recruiters will also turn away from candidates whose professional reputation is that of a gossip.

Be clear and stay true to your word

You need to know what you want, be able to articulate, and stick to it. If you are approached for a position or approach a recruiter and go back and forth flip-flopping around it won’t reflect well on your personal brand, and ditto for the recruiter and candidate. Time is money. Get to the point and then stick to it. Don’t say yes when you mean no. It’s odd to come across people who stick to their word. It’s a measure of integrity – a quality that can be hard to find sometimes. When you behave in a way that demonstrates integrity, you’ve just jumped ahead of most of the competition and that will serve you in the end. People who take a lot of shortcuts without showing respect for the other person in the partnership negatively impact their careers.  It’s worth repeating – treat those how you wish to be treated yourself.

Clarity, strength, resilience, being upfront, and courtesy are among the top soft skills companies want among talent as well as internal and external recruiters. When you demonstrate these qualities in your interactions you avoid burning a bridge improve your communication style, get a better return on investment and keep moving FORWARD.

About the author: Caroline Stokes is the Founder of Forward Human Capital Solutions. She is an executive career coach and headhunter. 

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