It’s not what you know: How recruiters can embrace the new relationship economy

Most recruiters understand that to build a successful business, they need to forge trusted relationships within their networks. No matter how balanced the spreadsheets are today, if a prime candidate or lucrative client is not returning calls tomorrow, revenue is going to suffer.

The ‘new relationship economy’ is redefining how businesses across the board engage with their key stakeholders – and recruitment firms are particularly well-positioned to benefit. In this new world of work, trust is the primary asset and relationships are the number one currency. How you engage with candidates, clients, colleagues and other stakeholders is critical to your profitability.

While this may sound like second nature to some, new technologies are modernizing how relationships are made and maintained. This adds another element of competition to an already busy recruitment market. To fully benefit from the relationship economy, you need to gather important data and insights to authentically connect with the right people. The old corporate approach needs to be thrown out the window and replaced with a far more personal touch. Here are four key areas for your business to focus on.

How to engage with clients

Your client database may number into the hundreds, but how strong are those relationships really? There is a fine balance between retention and acquisition; as soon as existing or new clients feel like a number and not an important individual, your relationships will weaken.

Your customer data should never replace the essential human element of client relationships – but it can help make every engagement more successful. Analyze the information you have and use it to build reports that outline specific behaviors, preferences and circumstances. If you know a client prefers to be contacted by email before midday and only hires post-graduates, you can ensure that all your communication is targeted to meet these personal requirements.

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In short, you need to stop selling and start solving. What problems are your clients and prospects facing? And how can you help solve them? If you can offer a service that effectively puts problems to bed, your clients will regard you as a trusted business partner, remain loyal, and spread the word about your firm to their network.

How to engage with candidates

Recruitment is more than a corporate match-making service. The best recruiters understand that to successfully connect candidates and clients, they need to go the extra mile.

No matter how perfect a candidate appears to be for a position, before you send them to an interview, you need to prepare them. Telling them to have a quick review of the website of the company they’re interviewing with is not enough. Are they up to date with what’s happening in their industry? Can they talk intelligently about events impacting the global economy?

Let’s say, for example, that the candidate is going for an interview with the sales director at a multi-national insurance firm in London. They need to know how the Brexit negotiations could potentially challenge the firm’s ability to compete outside the UK.

Get to know a candidate’s preferences, and respond to them timeously. Ask them about their career goals and make a concerted effort to help them fulfill them. It’s vital that you show genuine interest in who they are – if they don’t want to work in a certain sector or in a certain role, don’t put them forward for those vacancies.

How to engage with leadership and staff

A successful business is sustained by robust, transparent relationships between colleagues and teams. Your company values need to be clear and easily applicable at each level of the organization. If only your managers are required to subscribe to the overarching business mission, then any attempts at collaboration across teams will fall short.

Radical transparency can help encourage an open and honest workplace by ensuring that all knowledge is shared across the company. Aside from some sensitive information like medical reports or financial data, your employees should be able to access all company and customer information.

Implementing an ‘open email’ policy, for example, means that if a client sends a request or a candidate has a query, their emails will always get a fast response from someone on the team because no information is locked in one inbox. It’s a win-win for everyone involved; all stakeholders are kept happy and relationships are strengthened.

Radical candor is a related style of management that proposes a transparent and direct approach to feedback. If an employee hands in a report that is sub-par, they need to know to improve their work. It doesn’t help to praise them falsely, shout at them in front of their colleagues, or redo the report yourself. Deliver a message that is precise and helpful. When communications between managers and their teams are open and honest, their working relationships are far more productive.

How to engage technology

We live and work in a digitally disruptive age which can be overwhelming. To harness it effectively, we must understand that technology is neither to be feared, nor given too much control. Trends in artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and machine learning – among other things – are going to impact your business, and it’s up to you to make sure that impact is positive.

To harness the power of technology, you need to engage with it as if it were a client. In other words, be realistic about what it can do and don’t expect an overnight transformation – after all, fruitful relationships take time to build.

With any technology you use, from social media to customer relationship management (CRM) software, the goal should be to enhance your interactions with your clients and candidates. The technology won’t be able to do the job for you, but it can make sense of important information faster and help you respond, connect and leverage your stakeholder relationships more effectively.

The new relationship economy demands responsive, relevant and effective engagement. Recruitment firms that take an individual, open and authentic approach to how they interact with their stakeholders, and use technology correctly to enhance their communications, will reap the rewards.

MORE: The Best Tools for Smart but Busy Recruiters

Peter Linas

Peter Linas
Peter Linas is international managing director at Bullhorn.

Peter Linas

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