01 August 2011

Recruitment 101: How to win friends and influence people

In last week's InSight lead article Play More Beach Volleyball to Bill More Fees, I referred to the research supporting the importance of making genuine connections at work in order to build a more resilient and productive workforce. 

Today I will discuss specifically how recruiters can create this connectedness with their colleagues, their candidates and their clients. 

Although some of you might think this obvious, in my experience of leading and working with recruiters, it's clearly far from obvious for many. 

So who better to turn to for a quick lesson in human connectedness than the godfather of influencing people, Dale Carnegie. 

Here's a summary from Part Two, Six Ways to Make People Like You from his famous book How to Win Friends and Influence People (review from Ross Recommends, InSight 16, re-published, below): 

Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people
‘People are not interested in you. They are not interested in me. They are interested in themselves - morning, noon and after dinner' (page 82). 

The average recruiter tells the client how they recruit and why they should be chosen by the client. The average recruiter isn't bothered to customise an interview ice breaker, they simply rely on ‘how's your day?' or ‘did you find us okay?' or ‘is it still cold/sunny/windy outside?' 

The top recruiter asks questions that demonstrate they have researched the client's business or that they have read the candidate's resume (‘I'm keen to know what benefits you are seeing from your MBA studies'). 

Principle 2: Smile
‘...a smile says "I like you, you make me happy. I am glad to see you". That is why dogs are such a hit. They are so glad to see us they almost jump out of their skins' (page 95). 

The average recruiter lets their disappointments and frustrations fester and show on their face.

The top recruiter brushes off disappointments and frustrations and breaks into a smile to shift their mood and to positively kick-start a fresh conversation with whomever they are communicating with. 

Principle 3: A person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language
‘...the average person is more interested in his or her own name than in all the other names on earth put together. Remember that name and call it easily, and you have paid a subtle and very effective compliment' (page 106). 

The average recruiter doesn't bother to try and pronounce unfamiliar names. They easily drop back to ‘mate', ‘you' or an invented nickname. 

The top recruiter looks for opportunities to use a person's name (‘tell me more about that contract win, Diane') and also enjoys the challenge of learning to pronounce names unfamiliar to them. 

Principle 4: be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves
‘Exclusive attention to the person who is speaking to you is very important. Nothing is so flattering as that' (page 116). 

The average recruiter interrupts and talks over the top of clients and candidates. They talk more than they listen and they only listen attentively when the conversation is about them or their direct needs. 

The top recruiter asks great questions and keeps the client or candidate talking with appropriate follow up questions (‘tell me more about your specific role in that project's success, Steve'). 

Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other person's interests
‘...the royal road to a person's heart is to talk about the things he or she treasures most' (page 124). 

The average recruiter ignores or does not notice areas of a candidate's resume that indicate a person's interests eg hobbies, community service, travel. They also fail to notice the clues in a client's office that indicate their areas of interest eg family photos, employee of the quarter award, etc. 

The top recruiter is constantly alert to, and looking for, indicators of a person's interests so they can skillfully and appropriately direct the conversation towards these areas. 

Principle 6: Make the other person feel important - and do so sincerely
‘You don't want to listen to cheap, insincere flattery, but you do crave sincere appreciation' (page 131). 

The average recruiter acts subserviently towards a client, hoping for a few crumbs of jobs from their table. The average recruiter hopes that a candidate will be talked into a taking a job because ‘you are a fantastic candidate for this job'. 

The top recruiter looks for and creates appropriate opportunities to thank their clients and candidates for their time, referral or business. Top recruiters love to use handwritten notes and other forms of written communication to reinforce the genuineness of their appreciation.

What Dale Carnegie techniques could you apply?

2 comments:

  1. I have mixed reactions to this article. My first response is "that all seems very contrived" - to deliberately behave in certain ways to influence people to like me. But then, maybe I do many of these things anyway - it just seems uncomfortable to be presented in such a way. Your first point - to be genuinely interested - is key. I think to get people to feel positive towards you, be genuine - people are good at spotting phoneys.
    Thanks for the article

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  2. I agree, Jennifer. All the techniques that Carnegie espouses will appear very forced unless you are genuinely interested in other people. I haven't met a top performing recruiter who wasn't genuinely interested in other people.

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