All of a sudden a lady contacted me who worked as a recruiter for a large international recruitment agency. She was in the process of setting up a completely new recruitment team, and she needed me for this. I was flattered by her interest, but why me, I wondered. The answer was simple. “We are looking for a recruiter, you are a recruiter. Welcome to the club.”

I decided to put her contact request to one side and return to it at a suitable moment, but I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I started wondering why she had approached me. Does she know what drives me? Does she know where my ambitions lie? Does she have any idea how happy I am in my current position? If I joined such a large, renowned organisation, would I still have the same responsibilities that make my present job so enjoyable? I decided to sleep on it.

Vacancy Solution Sales Manager

At our office a crowd gathers around the coffee machine every morning. What else? But what would the coffee taste like at that large club? ‘Ms Recruiter’ from the other club was the main topic of the morning. She had been so creative that she had sent all my colleagues exactly the same message, with the same content and an identical choice of words.

“Does she know what drives me? Does she know where my ambitions lie? Does she have any idea how happy I am in my current position?”

Yesterday’s jubilant mood quickly evaporated to be replaced by a niggling annoyance. I drew the probable conclusion that this lady did not think I was worth the effort, or that she was incredibly lazy. An answer to her contact request is still pending!

What can we learn from this?

Investigate a person’s background, find out their interests, learn what motivates them, and try to get to know the person behind the attractive profile. Apply the human touch to recruitment. Don’t just send an impersonal InMail to your candidate, but add value to your contact. After all, everyone wants to be treated as a person and not just one of many being bombarded with statements such as “We are looking for a recruiter, you are a recruiter, welcome to the club.”

From that day on I decided to do things differently. I don’t want to be a run-of-the-mill recruiter any more. I want to know more about the person behind the profile instead of just relying on assumptions. I don’t know what is important to the other person. This may be a higher salary, a larger company car, the freedom to build a team, or a job close to home. So as from now simple messages such as “I have a job for you” are outlawed.

“Apply the human touch to recruitment”

My new principles, which I can warmly recommend to all my colleagues, are as follows.

  • Investigate the background of a candidate. This may concern his/her work but also unusual hobbies, interests or customs.
  • Use a personal greeting in your communication.
  • Do not begin directly with a job description but first establish a person’s motivation.
  • Avoid trite remarks, but use appropriate triggers.
  • Take a vulnerable stance and use humour.
  • Above all, apply the human touch!

What are the benefits?

You have a conversation with a potential candidate, you build stronger ties with your candidate than your fellow recruiters do, and you create an atmosphere that is mutually beneficial on the basis of equality. In all honesty, who wants to deal with an impersonal and often invisible recruiter when they could opt for the human touch instead? Nobody does.

“Acceptance rates, response rates and interview rates go through the roof”

I sense that data driven recruitment managers are now wondering what this brings in concrete terms. Believe me, it ensures that acceptance rates, response rates and interview rates go through the roof. Mission accomplished.

Practical example

I was looking for an experienced IP Engineer for a major operator in the telecom sector. This was a very challenging assignment due to the highly specific job requirements. While I was making an inventory of suitable internationally oriented candidates living in or near Amsterdam, I came across an Italian gentleman with a conspicuous name that hinted at a certain type of Italian coffee. There you have it again. What else?

I asked him what it is like for an Italian living in Amsterdam. I aimed to trigger his interest in the position, but I deliberately refrained from sharing the job profile with him. After all, a candidate should decide for himself what he wants to know. By making a pun related to his ‘coffee’ surname, I hinted that I would like to meet up. 43 minutes later I received the following message.

Hello Roel,

Life in Amsterdam is really really good. I love this place very much and we are planning to stay for a long time here. See for example today we have some nice sun and also a nice funny email, thank you for the laugh.

I will be more than interested in hearing more about this position you currently have open, if you could please share the job specs?

And sure we can have a cup of coffee anytime, maybe this week ? I usually finish my shift at 6pm, and I work at Bijlmer Area, so probably around 7 pm any day at City Center or any other location near you.

Thank you for your email again

Besides this coffee tale, on other occasions I have discussed taekwondo and why we think it always rains in England. I have given advice on which Belgian beers should be drunk at which moments, and I have actually persuaded people from Rotterdam to support Ajax.

“I have actually persuaded people from Rotterdam to support Ajax”

Besides taking this personal approach on LinkedIn, it also leads to better results on the various job boards, such as the ‘Monsters’ of this world. The same applies there, too. Be distinctive by taking a more personal approach than all your competitors and rival colleagues.

In summary

Show that you have the human touch. Show that you are a person with unique characteristics but also with flaws, just like the identified candidate. This will bring greater success in your work, but it will also make your job even more enjoyable.
‘Ms Recruiter’ had no chance. She was correct in concluding that Decom employs recruiters – very good ones, in fact – but above all Decom employs people. These are people who understand the profession of recruiter better than anyone, who do their utmost for their candidates in a unique and personal manner. She is very welcome to come and learn from us. We will also offer her a nice cup of coffee. What else?

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