Candidate Relationship Building – Lessons Learned
By Charles Elliott
As a Recruiter and a sales professional I am constantly looking for ways to improve by reading books, searching through articles, and receiving mentorship. This week was an education in the act of failing. A word and action many attribute a negative connotation to and look to avoid at all costs. On the contrary, it is necessary to be comfortable with failure as it is the only way to find success. Seeing it as a natural path towards your success sets value in the process, ultimately finding the best solution.
A critical part of the recruitment process is following up with candidates placed during their first three months, guiding them and setting the tone for a long lasting relationship. This is a great time to speak with the candidate to inquire how their ramp up period is progressing and to address any foreseeable problems that may arise. Paying close attention to how they react is key in finding useful information.
Most follow ups go off without a hitch with responses: “The job is going great” or “Thank you, I couldn’t advance my career without you”, this phone call was somehow different. I could hear a straining in his voice as he explained the job was going well but had not made a sale after 2 months of employment. This proved additionally worrisome for him sitting at their regular company meetings; hearing that sales were slow and cost reduction was top priority. Picking up on his concern that being the last one hired, he would be the first one to get the boot if things were to continue. Reading that this wasn’t a standard phone call follow up, I invited him out to lunch.
Over the course of an hour and a half he had explained to me this new role had a sales cycles that was much longer than his previous company and the paths he had tried to potentially make a sale have proven unsuccessful. He was hired as a problem solver, as someone who’s attention to detail could open new doors of business for the company. I could tell he was frustrated and seemingly out of sales solutions.
After a number of probing questions about his sales process I noticed when one of his efforts didn’t work out, he would administer a heavy weight of criticism upon himself impeding his performance. Inquiring further revealed the concept of “failure” was a viewed negatively amongst his family and friends. I was shocked that a man of his excellent sales skill would view failure so poorly.
I explained to him that failure was necessary, that it was a part of the sales process. Any professional I had come across embraced its intrinsic value. It was important to point out that failure without learned reflection could lead to repeating the same mistakes. His viewpoint on this concept was crippling his problem solving abilities.
I explained to him; actions he had done in the past deemed it necessary for him to learn from his failures and to view them as a positive. Dates he had went on that failed led him to his beautiful and capable wife, applications he had submitted to companies without response let him to this role. He was starting to understand that he had been learning from these challenges all along proving that this situation was no different. He left with a renewed sense of purpose and a different perspective on his now digestible problems.
I was extremely pleased I spent the hour and a half with him for lunch. Not only for the sake of saving a placement, It felt good to be a sounding board for a great candidate and help him see a path to success. This is one of the more rewarding aspects of my role as a recruiter.
I’ve adopted a philosophy over a decade of sales and recruitment experience. People don’t need to be told what to do, they grow when they find it through their own natural learning. Providing a question they have yet to ask themselves allows someone to take the natural steps relevant to their unique problem. We have our own choices to make and failures to learn from, how we can help is often taking the time to ask these questions.