Communication is tricky: every person brings their own experiences to a conversation, influencing how they will hear you. Even if you say the same words with the same delivery to different people, the culmination of their experiences will alter their perceptions of the conversation.
Effective communication is a crucial component of business, and it’s particularly important in talent acquisition. Unfortunately, sometimes candidates and recruiters don’t always connect. That’s where empathy and expectations come in.
There are a lot of scary moments in life, in my opinion. Getting engaged: terrifying. Getting married: terrifying. Having a baby: terrifying. Graduating school without a job: terrifying. Being in a job that you've fallen out of love with and not knowing what to do next: terrifying. In recruiting we speak to people who are in an emotional state of upheaval every day.
Recruiters work with candidates who are experiencing variations of this short list of 'terrifying times.’ Yet recruiters often become numb to it because they see it every day, and it becomes familiar. But it definitely isn't familiar nor comfortable for those on the other side of the phone or table. Recruiters need to keep this in mind, and empathize with candidates.
Both recruiters and candidates should remember they are not experts in the life experience of others, but you are an expert in your own life experience. I say 'life experience' because recruiters should be experts in others’ 'job experience.’ Job experience is the topic of your conversations... 'life experience' is what will impact a candidate’s interpretation of said conversation.
We all need to remember that half of every conversation is ours, and our half is influenced by our own life experiences. If you think you control more than 50%, then you’re arguing and the other person isn't feeling valued. If you think you have less than 50%, then you may not be invested enough to want to be a part of the conversation. You should seek to understand the other half; not destroy. That’s empathy.
A large percentage of the pain and heartache of failed communication in talent acquisition could be attributed to mismanaged expectations, from both candidates and recruiters. But there’s a way we can all effectively be heard.
Remember you are experts in employment, and set expectations accordingly for candidates. Recruiters have things they can do for candidates, and they need certain information from them to be able to do their job… but recruiters haven’t earned the candidate’s trust yet. Candidates don't necessarily know why recruiters need this information, so be clear with them.
Take time to explain the process, and share early on what candidates can hope to gain from working with you. Remember most candidates aren't experts in recruiting, but they are experts in their field, which is why you're working with them in the first place. Furthermore, be honest with candidates. If your firm isn’t the right resource for them, then say that to them. Honesty is better than silence.
A recruiting firm should be one component of a job search, but it should not encompass the entire search process. You have elected to be open to the possibility of a new job, and a recruiting firm can help. From helping review your resume, offering interview tips, or managing the whole enchilada of finding your next job... firms can help. But help isn’t the same as doing it for you. You are the master of your own fate, and it’s important to take full ownership of the process.
Communication isn't an exact science. We, as humans, don't always say what we mean or mean what we say. We already live in a chaotic world, and recruiters operate specifically in a chaotic part of a candidate's career. We, recruiters and candidates alike, can each do our part to not add to the chaos if we remember empathy and share expectations when we communicate.