Humans of New York is a fascinating Facebook page. Photographer Brandon Stanton travels around New York City snapping pictures of the people he encounters and inserts brief quotes with each shot he shares on the Facebook page—which currently stands at 4.7 million “Likes.” As Stanton explains, “Humans of New York now provides a worldwide audience with daily glimpses into the lives of strangers in New York City.” There are a number of great photos and stories on this page but, to me, one in particular has stood out amongst the rest—this photo of a lovely older woman decked out in a fur coat. Under the photo, she had this to say:
"With all the good it's brought, technology is destroying our communication skills—especially the ability to listen. The older generation can still listen, but many of the youngsters can't even look you in the eye while you speak. If they aren't looking at their mobiles, they're looking over your shoulder or glancing around the room … Why is verbal communication more important than communication through a device? Because there's only so much you can learn from your Facebook friends."
This statement resonates with me because, as recruiters, we are in the business of communicating through technology. This woman is not the first to share this opinion of the younger generation, but people had better take note. In the recruiting profession, we strive to find the best talent, which means we have to be innovative in our approach. But innovation doesn’t strictly mean being capable of leveraging new technologies—It means striking the perfect balance between today’s tools and resources and truly listening to those we connect with.
Here are 6 ways we can get started:
1. Try new technologies! There are amazing mediums out there for connecting with people you may never have had the chance to meet, interact with and learn from. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are absolutely essential for making those initial connections with candidates. You need to go where the candidates are, and today they are on social media!
2. Pick up the phone. It’s quite rare these days that candidates actually speak with someone at the company they are applying. There are a million ways the process has been made more efficient and quicker by online technology, but it often means strictly communicating through email and other forms of non-verbal communication. Having a personal conversation with your candidate can make a world of difference. Recruiters who keep old school personal touch part of their candidate outreach are going to find the most success in today’s technology-driven world.
3. Personalize your messages. Appeal to candidates’ human nature in your emails and LinkedIn Inmails. Talk about common interests; use whatever access you have to learn about the candidate as a person. People want to be treated like people, not merely candidates on a list. We tell candidates to personalize their resumes, so why should we not personalize our approaches?
4. Don’t just ask candidates to apply. If you straight away ask candidates to apply for a position, they’re likely not to do so. They don’t know you, and they have no reason to trust you. Why would they think applying for this job is going to be a smart career move, especially when they know nothing about you, your company or your reason for reaching out to them? As recruiters, we need to first build trust and ensure candidates trust that you have their best interests in mind.
5. BE PRESENT during interviews. Make certain your candidate knows you are focused on them—that you are listening. Close your computer, hide your phone, and set aside any other technological devices. You’re likely juggling a large requisition load, but make sure the candidate feels like they’re the only reason you came to work today. If you check out, they certainly will.
6. Check in with candidates regardless of job openings. Once you’ve found a great candidate, stay in touch with them! People appreciate the effort, and they appreciate feeling as if there is more to the recruiter-candidate relationship than you trying to get something from them. If you take time to listen, you just might learn how to improve your skills as a recruiter.
The world is connected like never before, but we can’t throw personal communication out the window. Recruiting is a people business. We must challenge the technological norm yet remain personal and present by listening to those we engage.