What are the most important soft skills a recruiter can possess? I’ll bet communication or interpersonal skills come to mind. In fact, after conducting a survey about soft skills, CareerBuilder reports that 56 percent of hiring managers agree that they want a candidate who is an effective communicator. After all, for talent acquisition professionals, communication is instrumental for success. But communication, by itself, may not get you where you want to be in your career. It’s important to consider communication in the broader context of networking — that is, finding the right way to put your communication skills to use.
A recruiter’s ability to communicate effectively determines the candidate experience and hiring manager satisfaction. Candidates expect a high-touch experience where feedback and updates are given through each step of the hiring process. Same goes for a recruiter’s communication with hiring managers. Being diligent about providing recruitment updates will create a level of trust. Sounds simple, right? Become an effective communicator and success as a recruiter will follow.
But, as we know, often these soft skills need to be honed. Therefore, I propose a change in mindset — let’s switch from trying to be great communicators to training how to be networkers.
Here are some tips for recruiters on how to network:
do more than just communicate
Imagine networking as a more active form of communicating. Those who fall in this “networker” category often have many of the communication skills that are valued in a recruiter, but they deliberately take each connection they make one step further. They build long-term and mutually beneficial relationships with those connections.
Candidates don’t want to talk to recruiters who are not enthusiastic about the company for which they are recruiting. Likewise, candidates will mirror their recruiter’s tone and enthusiasm level when speaking about a position, so you want to be sure you are genuinely excited about your company and the job opportunity you’re pitching to build that rapport.
And a hiring manager wants to feel like more than just a task to be checked off your to-do list. Recruiters can build stronger relationships with their hiring managers by showing they are enthusiastic about and motivated to fill their role. In return, hiring managers will be more receptive to recruiter consultations. Along with this, a recruiter who has the emotional intelligence to understand and genuinely strive to meet others' needs will build credibility. Active listening is half the battle of great networking, and jumping to conclusions is a sure way to lose trust.
PRACTICE NETWORKING AND SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE
What better way to become effective networkers than by networking with the best? Practice makes perfect and the only way to build an extensive network of industry professionals is to start somewhere. Local chambers of commerce, professional industry groups and university events should all be frequented to network for potential candidates and mentors.
That way, during an interview instead of sharing whether or not you have effective communication skills, you will be able to describe instead how do you build and maintain your professional network. This will much more clearly demonstrate your recurring habits of communication. As a recruiter you might discuss your use of social tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter, local networking groups and events, or outline the follow-up you conduct to keep contacts fresh. If you can clearly demonstrate these skills, it will have a much greater impact than saying you are a great communicator.
Network to a successful career
For an entry-level employee, it’s not just important to be able to communicate your comments, questions and concerns, but also to build relationships throughout the company and industry. Networking experience can go a long way for an entry-level employee for their success over time as they seek out connections and mentorship.
It’s also important to be a proficient networker at a more senior level to help develop others to further their careers in your organization. Taken one step further, a more senior employee can use their network to leverage relationships for the business and other employees’ benefit. At any level, the idea is that this type of person will never stop seeking out relationships that can help them grow both personally and professionally.
The truth is, we’re not born with these capabilities; we have to develop them over time. Anyone can develop effective communication skills by seizing opportunities for networking both internal and external to their organization. This includes taking advantage of opportunities for stretch projects in different internal departments, volunteering for resume building workshops, and dedicating company time to volunteering in the local community. Making a conscious effort to build and leverage a unique network should be an ongoing effort to ensure growth and leadership.