Use Consultative Techniques in Recruiting

Your life will be easier if you become a consultant to both candidates and hiring managers

Before we start talking about consultative recruiting, we need to quickly explore the concept of consultative sales. I first heard the term a couple years ago, when it was a fad in the business world to append the word "consultant" to the end of every title. Your plumber became your hydro-fluid consultant, your AC guy a climate-control consultant, and your mechanic an automotive consultant.

Naturally, salespeople latched on to this fad, always looking for a way to add prestige and improve their perception and title. The term "consultative sales" was coined and voila, suddenly everyone was consultant. Consultative sales was not something new; the best salesmen have been practicing it for centuries. And yet so few today understand the principle behind it.

I was working on a home-improvement project: building a home theater and looking for a specific size bolt for a custom projector mount. When I stopped by a local hardware store, I was greeted by a very well-spoken, knowledgeable sales attendant. He quickly understood what it was that I needed, asked me questions about the location of the mount, its dimensions, the weight of the project, and was generally interested in what I was building. Afterward, he walked me to the aisle where he picked up the four bolts I needed and placed them in my hand. I was so impressed that I asked about their trimmers (My lawn needed grooming, and it was time for a new trimmer). What he did next astonished me: he recommended I go to Home Depot! They have a better selection and price when it comes to trimmers, he said.

In less than 10 minutes, I felt that this individual and this small hardware shop was one I could trust, recommend, and turn to with any problem. This is the result of consultative sales. So what is it, and how does it apply to recruiting?

What Consultative Recruiting Is Not

I found this online:

"Consultative Recruiting involves gently leading the prospect to realize that by getting involved with your opportunity, they will more rapidly achieve their greater goals, of financial independence, improved lifestyle, security, happiness, health and wellness, etc."


This was written by someone who most likely is attempting to sell you a magical formula, an elixir that will give you super sales strength and solve all your problems! It's a scam; this elixir will do nothing more than turn your tongue green and make your hair fall out.

What Consultative Recruiting Is

The concept of consultative recruiting is very simple. You provide value to both the hiring manager and candidate, with the primary purpose of developing your relationship. The formula is that basic, and the results are astounding.

Do this with both sides of the recruiting equation, and you will find you are creating an army of allies. People will naturally give you referrals and engage your company. But you must make it easy for them to help you. If it's easy, they they'll be more likely to help.

Putting It into Action

Here are some simple ways to use readily available tools that you probably already have in place. We’ll start with consultative recruiting, and how it applies to candidates.

For Candidates

  • Providing Value — Give, Give, Give.
    Think of minimal investment for maximum value. What can you do that would benefit your target talent pool? Create and host a wiki where people can exchange information; hold an online contest with a free prize giveaway; sponsor free training and user groups. There are many ways to help. Survey your employees and candidates to come up with ideas. Ask them. You’ll be surprised what you discover!
  • Building the Relationship — Exposure and Intimacy.
    The closer your candidates feel to you and your company, the better the chance they will join your company or send you referrals. Create a blog for sharing your experiences, and be honest. Write freely about your company and work environment and encourage other employees to do the same. Hold open-house nights, and invite prospects and candidates to company happy hours and events.
  • When You Give, You Get — Make it Easy to Be Helped.
    Not all candidates will immediately jump at the opportunity to work at your company. Many will just not be a good fit. Make it easy for them to stay informed of job opportunities and give them a way to send you referrals. Stay in front of them, because they'll forget all the value you provided if you don’t maintain contact. This does not mean that everyone who ever applied should get a monthly call from you. Invest your time wisely in the top candidates who have the potential to either join your company or refer people who can.
For Hiring Managers

The same three concepts apply to hiring managers. Whether or not you are a corporate recruiter or a third-party agency, applying these concepts will improve your working relationships and increase your productivity.

  • Providing Value — Give, Give, Give.
    You are the expert, their trusted advisor. Teach them, educate them, inform them. Stop complaining that hiring managers don’t understand the principles of recruiting. First become an expert yourself, and then you will be able to earn their respect and trust. Send them articles, provide them with industry trends, respect their time, and share only information that they will find valuable. With that trust, your job will become 10 times easier. You’ll have better communication and understanding.
  • Building the Relationship — Exposure and Intimacy.
    Does your hiring manager know the steps involved in your recruiting process? Do they know the number of candidates, resumes, interviews that you have to go through to present them one candidate? Give them a taste of a day in the life of a recruiter. Have you ever met them? I’m surprised at the answer some people provide to that question. You need to share what you do, and who you are. It makes for a more fruitful and enjoyable work experience.
  • When you Give You Get; Make it Easy to Be Helped.
    Have you ever had a situation where after days of waiting, you get feedback from a hiring manager only to find that the candidate is not available? What if you made it easy for the hiring manager to respond? Put a link in your email to the manager in which they can rate the candidate on the fly and provide feedback. Most importantly, communicate with your hiring managers. Let them know how they can help you, and most of they time they will.
Applying consultative sales techniques to candidates and hiring managers will make your life easier. Establish trust, and turn all those that you work with into advocates. Keep them informed, educated, and close by and watch your job become easier!


By Mo Edjlali, reprinted with the permission of Electronic Recruiting Exchange
 BlackDog Recruiting Software Inc.
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