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  Two Essential Recruiting Skills to Master Today

I have been involved in more conversations about the future of recruiting than I care to remember. At first, they seemed productive, but they soon became noisy and infused with bloated egos; hardly the thoughtful and introspective dialogue for which I had hoped. As of late, I have given up on those conversations and get most of my exercise running from those in the predicting-the-future business.

On the other hand, I believe that the future is now and perhaps the best way to predict the future is to invent it. With this in mind, I put on my man-of-the-future hat (mostly just tin foil, a proton wave atomizer, and some wires) because I have very strong thoughts about what type of recruiter will be met with great success.

As such, I write this article to highlight two very specific talents required if being one of recruiting's elite might be a part of your plan.

For openers, let's consider this: there are endless skills that recruiters need to be successful. To start, people and communication skills, drive, comfort with changing technology, and sound judgment just to scratch the surface.

However, out of all that is required for success, the recruiters who will be the most successful will be those who have mastered two very different skill sets and understand the relationship between the two.

Those skill sets are as follows:

The capacity to use technology in order to find candidates. (Not that hard really; think science.)
A solid understanding of how to architect the deal. (Much harder; think art.)
Those recruiters who reside comfortably at the sweet spot (i.e., the intersection where technological capability converges with the talents required to architect the deal) will be living at the best address in town.

Lets look at these two concepts and see how they relate to one another.

Using technology to find candidates. This is clearly the easier of the two. I have no doubt that there will be advances in technology so extreme, so pervasive, and so easy to use that it will simply boggle the mind. (Toffler said, "Technology feeds on itself. Technology makes more technology possible.") I predict that some day, finding candidates will simply cease to be the problem one can encounter today as there will be few places on earth, virtually or otherwise, in which they can hide. Unfortunately, the downside to this will be that a candidate can only get so many e-mails and phone calls before they become totally non-responsive, as the technology that allows you to attempt connecting with these candidates will be countered by technology that allows them to shut you down. Even if your opportunity is the best thing going, a person can only entertain so many different scenarios before they go bonkers. So, to those who worship at the feet of technology, be forewarned: technology alone will not be the answer. It will simply be the tool. Technology will never architect, and close deals. Those are people skills, and therein is the art of architecting the deal.
Understanding how to architect the deal. Clearly, this is the more difficult of the two; the one that takes more subtle skills and engages our ability to create human connections, tests our patience, and expands on our ability to be make things happen. Think for a moment of how hard this can be. Consider the amazing talent, insight, and skills required to identify the right candidate and connect with them on an emotional and intellectual level. To then capture their interest, bring them into the organization, orchestrate every detail of the process, and create a great hire is a beautiful thing and quite different than just racing to fill positions. The uncanny and meticulous application of all that's needed to bring this endeavor from start to finish, and to then go out and do it again, is what will make for great recruiting. Those recruiters who understand that the human touch is still our primary tool in making a hire are those who will be most successful.
There are three overriding requirements that will allow you to architect the deal more effectively.

Consider the following:

Take the time required. Making great "over-the-top" hires is no easy task, and it takes time, planning, and the execution of high-quality work. Learn to take pride in every aspect of what you do, because the devil really is in the details. For example, have you taken the time to explain the entire hiring process to the candidate so they will have an enhanced comfort level? Just a small detail but important just the same. Remember, you always do your best work because there are no unimportant openings. Using that as an excuse to do shoddy work is the battle cry of the hack, and we need to rise above that type of behavior.
Listen better than ever before. The organization is engaging you because it needs something and understanding that need is not done in a 30-minute phone call. Invest your time, and educate them as to why they must invest their time as well. For example, do you have a deep understanding of the types of employees who do well within their culture? This is just one small example of listening that will support the chances for not just an acceptable hire, but an absolute over-the-top home run that will delight the client. This is the result we should be trying to achieve on a consistent basis.
Question everything. Few things interfere with architecting deals more than either client or candidate windmills in the sky. For example, I was once asked to help hire 20 of the best account executives in the storage business by a potential client who had far more money than insight into reality. Nice guy, but his vision was absurd and unrealistic. Ask for the "why and how" of everything that does not ring true, and don't stop asking until you get an answer you can accept because going on a fool's errand should not be your fate. Once again, it's hard to do great work if the reality of your opportunity turns out to be flawed.

DaCare is the leading bi-lingual executive search firm in China. Ranked top 10 in China by People's Daily.