The right recruiting strategy can be the difference between a long-term hire that grows and progresses with a company, or someone who is in and out the doors within six months. With the ripples of the Great Resignation still being felt by employers, recruiting has become more challenging than ever. Professionals know exactly what they want — whether it’s higher compensation, remote options, or flexible hours — and, rightly so, they aren’t willing to settle for less. That’s why recruiting with intention and purpose has never been more important.
When people think of a recruitment firm, they often immediately imagine headhunters that work on commission and have an incentive to quickly fill the role. In this context, recruitment has become something of a dirty word — people that are driven by quotas and fees upon successful hires. But this strategy doesn’t usually make for meaningful hires. Recruitment should not be a transaction, but rather a partnership between the firm and hiring company, because how else could you truly understand that business, their ethos, and exactly the type of person they are looking for? Recruiting with purpose means rewriting expectations and standards in the recruitment rulebook.
Create a Partnership
Partnership isn’t a word I use to refer to any professional relationship. A recruiter and company both have a responsibility to cultivate a genuine partnership to ensure that the time and energy that goes into this process is all worthwhile. This means spending a lot of time with the client to truly understand their culture, various departments, managers, employees, hiring history, down to the town and community they are based in. And with so many companies working remotely, or offering a hybrid of office/remote work, you might need to take some time to process how this dynamic works, and understand how they connect. This could mean dedicating two days of time with the company before you even start the candidate search. By recruiting with intention and focusing on the deeper purpose, this is how you begin the process to find a great match.
A Strong Hiring Process
The hiring and onboarding process is just as important as the recruitment. If this part of the equation isn’t solid, it can cause companies to lose out on a really great hire. Recruitment also means thinking about retention, and a poor onboarding process can set a new hire up for a bumpy first few months. We all know that you can’t re-do a first impression, and this becomes a defining company experience for that employee. A good recruiter will ensure that their efforts will not be wasted once the hire is made, meaning they have a responsibility to ask about the onboarding process to ensure programs and training are in place. If a client tells you they need 10 new hires and fast, they have to be really ready to engage and retain.
Some of the best potential candidates could already be in a role that looks similar to the one you are recruiting for. They may not even be looking, at least until a great offer comes along. This will mean a lot of searching on LinkedIn and looking at sample resumes. But don’t make the mistake of firing off generic messages into inboxes before you have checked back in with the client. It’s essential to keep the company involved at this stage and bring them prospective candidates. Ask if this is what they are looking for. Are we hitting the right points? Is this the type of hire you’re envisioning? Do you want to see more or less of a particular skill? That communication and feedback is crucial. After that, you might need to scale down further, including job titles, locations, or even preferred colleges.
Screen Out, Not In
Recruitment isn’t about pushing people in, it’s about enabling an open, comfortable dialogue with potential candidates who can speak to a recruiter that genuinely wants to find the best possible match for the job, not just the fastest one. A thorough phone conversation with a candidate is the first step. Crucially, this is about listening to them tell you about their current job and career aspirations rather than listen to you read a job description for something they’re not convinced they want. Take the opportunity to find out what they like about their current job, what they wish was different, where they would like to see themselves in a few years. If you make a potential candidate feel heard, then you can gain their respect in return.
Get to Know Candidates
These days, anyone can write a glowing resume. It’s harder to really know the person behind the application, but over time you can help that person open up. If the recruiter can build a relationship with the candidate and talk to them multiple times, the candidate’s guard comes down — they really start to be themselves, and that’s when you see the person behind the resume. It’s the recruiter’s job to help bring out the best in the candidate and see what’s underneath. That way you can see if there’s consistency or qualities that match a company’s culture. This also allows you to offer genuine feedback and be real with candidates, so there’s credibility on your side, too.
Above all, recruiters should do two things: listen and ask the hard questions. Recruiting with purpose means doing the legwork to understand both parties, and being the bridge between a great role and a great candidate. Above all, there’s no shortcuts when it comes to the best possible hire.
Kelly Robinson is the Founder & CEO of recruitment firm PKR.
Kelly Robinson Author Bio and Headshot:
Kelly Robinson is a recruiting expert, entrepreneur, and the CEO and Founder of Panna Knows Recruiting. PKR is a leading professional services firm focused on recruiting with intention through structure, strategy, and support to connect employers with top talent. Robinson is an award-winning talent operations specialist for her expertise in hiring operations, talent acquisition and retention, and organizational leadership. She coaches leaders throughout the recruiting space globally on strategies for success in the digital era of work.