The 10 Ways Recruiters Can Make the Talent Search as Efficient as Possible

Best Practices Can Save Time for Both Job Seekers and Hiring Organizations

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Stuart Parkin
Stuart Parkin
As agencies struggle to re-tool to provide clients with the expertise they need, the role of talent-spotting becomes more important than ever. There is much that agencies can do to create attractive work environments and attract ubertalent.

From my experience as a candidate and as a headhunter, finding a great job isn't easy. Agencies, recruiters and candidates all have their parts to play. Well-articulated job specifications and expectations from both agencies and candidates are critical. The recruiter's job is to clarify both sides of the equation.

What, specifically, can and should recruiters, working for agencies, be doing to make this talent search as efficient as possible? Below are best practices that can save time for both job seekers and hiring organizations.

1. Understand the candidate. Know what the candidate's ideal role is. Make the engagement with the prospective candidate more consultative. Whether you are a coach or a recruiter, greater time-investment upfront will save time for everyone in the process.

2. Don't force-fit the candidate. The temptation is to "sell" a candidate a job that they either don't want or are ill equipped to do. Force-fit, and the risk is that you will waste time of all involved or worse, screw around with people's lives as the candidate ends up resigning or being fired after a short time.

3. Focus on transferable skills. Try to avoid focusing on titles and focus more on skills that will potentially broaden the base of candidates for any given job.

4. Know the client. As well as the specifics of the job, know the required skill sets, whether it is a new role, and the reporting structure and resources for the role. Also try to understand the organization's culture. Is the candidate a fit? The recruiter should brief the candidate as much as possible about the people and the workplace personality.

5. Properly prepare the candidate. As well as briefing the candidate with as much information as possible about the opportunity, remind him that he must accept ultimate responsibility for performing his own due diligence. He must clarify the reality of the job opportunity and cultural fit, the personalities, the expectations, the resources and overall his ability to succeed against given expectations.

6. Respect candidates' desires. Do not submit resumes unless permission to do so by candidates. And provide follow up as soon as possible after an interview so that the applicant can learn from the experience and prepare for the next stages. If this is a role a candidate truly wants, he is keen to hear news, even if it isn't positive.

7. Maintain contact. Not a requisite but a smart approach is to communicate with people when they don't have any immediate needs.

8. Keep candidate numbers low. The recruiter should adopt a policy of "less is more" and submit a finite number of carefully selected candidates vs. a swathe of borderline irrelevance.

9. Seek feedback. As a recruiter, possibly working on your own or even as part of a company, very often meeting candidates on your own, find ways to seek feedback on both the way you interact as well as the substance of the interaction and the value you add, irrespective of sending candidates to interviews or placing them. Do you provide good advice to help them in their effort to find their next job?

10. Give the best advice. This doesn't necessarily make you money now, but it will build your reputation, is the right thing to do and usually opens up a conversation to clarify to an individual what truly matters in a job. Key questions to ask a candidate: "Do you know what you want?" and "Have you given your current employer (if employed) the chance to give you what you want?" Affirmative answers to both these questions are a green light to effectively recruit.

Stuart Parkin is a New York-based career coach and executive recruiter. He has 20 years of experience in agency new-business and marketing and has worked on four continents across agency disciplines. He has run Sparkin, his New York-based consultancy, for seven years, working with a range of traditional, multicultural, digital and PR agencies including DDB, Rapp, SpikeDDB, Porter Novelli, Dieste, Fallon, Berlin Cameron and Organic.
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