I've been a technology recruiter in Chicago for almost 4 years and have lived here my whole life. Even so, I can say without sounding like too much of a Chicago yokel that this is one of the top technology markets in the entire United States. Because of that, there is a message I need to deliver to other aspiring recruiters who want to network with top talent in this competitive marketplace.
The message is this: We are in a candidate driven market.
What does this message mean?
If you're a recruiter, it means you need to soften your approach. The perception of a technical recruiter in Chicago is this weird caricature that ends up resembling some hybrid of an angry Tasmanian devil and a monocle-wearing aristocrat.
Let's work together as a group of committed professionals to eradicate this perception. The character Jerry Maguire is famous for "showing people the money" and midday office meltdowns, but he was good at his job because he cared more about the person involved in the process than he did about the end result. Like Leslie Mann in Knocked Up, I just want us all to "care more."
Care about the person in front of you or on the phone; not the fee, your commission, or the bottom line. Whether she or he is a software developer, business analyst, support professional or network engineer, there is a life behind the resume, one that may or may not have children or pets, an elderly relative living with them, or a mortgage. As people in the business of establishing meaningful connections, we need to understand at a holistic level the variables involved in the decisions we’re enabling our candidates to make.
How do you execute this change in perception?
Turn the other cheek: if you get an offer turned down, take the candidate out to lunch and celebrate their other new position. You might not be able to expense the lunch, but the relationship will pay off in the long run.
If someone backs out of an interview or an offer, don't just tell the candidate you understand why they did that, actually understand why. Figure out their thought process, and then thank them for their time.
Like the candidates you are working with, you probably have rent, a family, or a mortgage. The market is tight and the pool is small. People know each other. It's far easier to pay those bills when you don't have a bad reputation.
These suggestions are just a start. If you're still reading this, I suspect you are committed enough to this career to come up with a few of your own.