Recruiting is about relationships. There’s the recruiting side, which is obviously about building cadence and rapport with talent. But there is also the client side. Both require investment of time and attention to build long-lasting relationships. Today’s candidate could be tomorrow’s client.
Let’s be honest. The creative staffing industry sometimes gets a bad reputation. You hear it when you make calls to potential candidates or clients. “Why are you calling me? What do you want?” accompanied by a tone that says, “You’re bothering me.” Behind those responses are bad experiences with recruiters who ignored candidates once the client declined them or they only call when they need something. The key to avoiding this reaction is to build relationships and maintain them over time.
In the relationship-centric world of creative staffing, it's all about trust and long-term engagement, especially when it comes to creative professionals in a highly competitive market. These potential candidates have many opportunities available. In fact, most are “passive” candidates, already working and maybe not even looking for their next position. In this environment, talent will work with someone who they feel is a partner, someone they trust and with whom they already have a relationship.
This partnership begins with really getting to know the person – before an open position exists. The initial discovery call with the candidate is about understanding who they are and what they want. What are their career goals? What’s important to them in their lives? What kind of work do they want to do and why? How do they want to grow? In short, what motivates them.
To that end, creative recruiters should spend time throughout their week calling the talent pool. For instance, skimming LinkedIn to see who is open to working and having a conversation with them about what they are looking for. Then follow up in a few weeks.
This is the first building block of trust. If you say you will follow up, do so. Develop a reputation for being true to your word and establish that you are a great creative recruiter to work with.
Even if the talent is not currently looking for a job, the creative recruiter can start building the connections. Being honest and upfront is crucial. “I know you’re not interested in a new position right now, but I’d like to get to know you so that I can help you the next time you’re looking.”
The result of these conversations is a good bench of candidates. When a specific position does come up, you have people to approach. It can make you one step closer to filling the job and beating out the competition.
If the client decides to hire the candidate, the creative recruiter should help the candidate be successful. This means making sure that onboarding is seamless for them. Also, once on the job, check in with the candidate, meet for coffee or lunch. Find out how things are going and if they like the work. Continue to build the relationship. If the hiring manager (who you should also check in with regularly) has performance feedback, this is a good time to share that.
Feedback is essential. How can someone improve if they don’t know where they went off-track? If the candidate interviews and doesn’t get the position, be transparent with them. Be polite but let them know why they weren’t chosen. If a candidate has multiple bad interactions with a recruiter that doesn’t share the actual feedback that the hiring manager provided, or doesn’t follow up after the interview, that’s a major dent in the relationship. When the candidate experiences a job rejection, the recruiter needs to stay in touch, continuing to help that individual find their next position.
Cultivating the relationship with the candidate can bear fruit in the future. One day, that candidate will become a hiring manager, in the position of using you to fill a job. Building those positive experiences, being reliable and honest, supporting candidates and clients, feeds your business in the long run. The success of a creative staffing company begins with the candidate experience.