Talent Acquisition

Why Recruiters Need Emotional Intelligence (Now, Like Never Before)

We talk at length about how and why the candidates we recruit must be high on the EQi scale but often fail to turn the mirror back on ourselves. As we rely more on data in the recruitment process, the value of recruiters rests in the ability to practice high levels of emotional intelligence to manage both talent and clients.

It’s all about relationships. We’re in the business of relationships; creating, developing and finding leaders who excel at them. From sourcing the right fit to learning how to say no in a way that does not alienate others to building bridges to smoothing out conflicts, recruiters who can master relationships soar to new heights.

As we move into the machine age, nothing is more evident in our work as well as the positions we source for, the importance of emotional intelligence. It is the critical underpinning and essential skill that determines whether individuals will not only survive but thrive in the fast-approaching era of work where machines will take over much of the technical work while humans’ workplace value resides in leadership, creativity, and interpersonal skills.

Recruiters need high levels of emotional intelligence to manage relationships and mitigate conflict. Headhunting can easily go awry when negotiations begin and successful negotiations requires being able to see both positions at the table and build bridges. The end-goal is that both parties walk away happy. It signals a successful placement. Putting emotions aside, knowing when to pause, thinking before speaking or acting, and managing conflicts are all critical at this point. As companies look to bring on board new talent and talent seeks to advance their careers, we play the role of connector and relationship management. We broker talent deals. Much like a Hollywood agent, our strength and contribution lie in our ability to play the role of matchmaker and negotiator. The better your social skills, the higher you rise.

Recruiters must build long-term relationships and connections to thrive. As a talent broker, recruiters’ ability to play the role of matchmaker relies on a well-developed network. Each placement becomes another link forged. Maintaining relationships over years requires attention to people. In our transaction oriented society, it means to really excel, we must go beyond the transaction in our work. In many ways, the placement marks just the beginning. Exceptional recruiters possess strong interpersonal skills and integrity.

Interpersonal skills ultimately will decide whether you succeed or fail. Can you manage your impulses? Can you manage change? Can you adapt to shifting client priorities and needs? How agile are you? Can you build rapport in difficult negotiations or do you become defensive under pressure? These are all skills recruiters must possess as they connect talent with potential employers while supporting the objectives of both talent and companies. It requires a lot of finesse.

Building strong relationships requires demonstrated dependability, maturity and integrity. The people we work with trust us, and often we become confidantes privy to sensitive information. In today’s world of email leaks and failed transparency, trustworthiness has become a highly sought currency. Trustworthy people are emotionally intelligent. They are not mired in the weaknesses self-centered people suffer from. Emotionally intelligent people can see, understand and recognize opposing perspectives and then build a bridge between the two. They look to resolve conflict through a win-win scenario. Anyone who has been in the recruiting business for a while knows that’s the secret to a successful negotiation and a talent placement that will stay. It’s our job to help foster those types of negotiations.

Emotional intelligence creates the foundation for effective relationship management. It’s the underpinning of efficiently navigating the maze of personalities, biases and human instincts that can quickly go array. Great recruiters can self-regulate, as well as manage the fears, aspirations and disappointments of candidates. We need to be masters at the art of persuasion. Empathy and emotional intelligence may just be the golden keys to becoming an exceptional recruiter in the machine age. After all, we’re in the human capital game.

Author: Caroline Stokes is the Founder of Forward Human Capital Solutions. She is an executive career coach and headhunter.  For more information about how to grow your EQi, head to her website to get in touch. 

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