In recruiting, hiring top talent is the number one priority. As recruiters, we search for candidates, evaluate their skills and abilities and cross-check information – all within the job descriptions and timelines. Living in a fast-paced world where the results are needed instantly, we might miss the bigger picture by focusing on candidates’ hard skills: the required knowledge and skill set – checked off, education, experience and tenure, checked off again. The check marks add up and you are ready to present a candidate to the hiring manager, but wait, what about the candidate’s soft skills and personality. As a recruiter, I am a strong advocate of paying attention to the very basic of all humans’ needs – the need to be understood. I always make sure to take the time and get to know the candidates by engaging them in a meaningful conversation about their career goals, motivation, interests and needs.

It is important to see the candidates beyond what is on their resumes in order to understand their choices and aspirations. What is also important, is the ability to understand the emotions behind an individual’s perspective, which is a key element in all-decisions making processes and recruitment is not an exception. I find that the ability to understand and identify with another’s situation or feelings is significant in the recruitment industry, an industry which is profoundly people-oriented. The accurate recognition of the candidates’ hard and soft skills can have a huge impact not only on the achievement of their personal objectives but also on the company goals.

How do you build a genuine connection with a candidate? First and foremost, LISTEN.

Remember: seek first to understand, then to be understood. Unfortunately, we have a tendency to do things the other way around – we present our points and demand answers. I can’t stress enough the importance of paying attention to what the other person has to say. Listen with the intention to understand what the other is trying to communicate. Empathetic listening is not about agreeing with the other. It is about understanding what message the other is trying to convey.

I would like to offer a piece of advice to all the budding recruiters out there – ask yourselves what you would do when faced with a particular situation if you were the candidate. Listen, comprehend, recognize and resonate with what they experience. Be empathetic and feel the difference!

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