Understanding the Job Seeker: 3 Steps to Making a Connection that Lasts

Finding a new job is stressful. Just think about all the steps a person has to take before accepting a new job: searching for work, preparing an application, sending it in, talking to a recruiter…that’s four steps already and we’re still a long way from extending an offer.

Throughout the entire process, recruiters should be building a relationship with the candidate. This requires empathy and a solid understanding of what’s driving the job seeker psychologically and emotionally.  Ultimately we should be asking: What will prompt this particular job seeker to fall in love with my company to the degree that they’ll not only continue through to the end of the process, but also say “yes” when we extend the offer?

If we truly understand what’s motivating candidates, then we can help them by providing the right guidance and support throughout. Of course, our goal is to have them choose us only if the match is truly mutual. This will lead to a happier and more successful new hire. But how can we make this happen? 

Step 1: Listen and learn

Many factors can spur somebody to start a job search. It could be a disagreement with their boss, dissatisfaction over compensation or frustration at limited career growth opportunities at their current company.  Fear can play a role too: perhaps their company has been seeing declines in their business and, in anticipation of layoffs, the candidate is getting a head start on their job search.

With so many potential factors in play, recruiters have to quickly identify which ones matter for each unique individual. So listen more than you talk. Be curious. Ask open ended questions that probe at the underlying reasons for a move, or the job seeker’s career motivators in general. But above all—listen.

Often the first answer doesn’t get to the root of the issue. Let’s say you hear this: “I recently had my performance review. We were talking about development opportunities, but I just don’t see any for me at my current company.”

Many recruiters will leave it there and move on. A great recruiter won’t be satisfied with a surface level response: they will probe for more detail and help the candidate paint a picture of what they would like those development opportunities to be. When a job seeker shares what will really make them happy in their career, a recruiter can help them see the ways in which those goals become possible if they make a move. Make them see that their ideal situation is possible with you, and the likelihood of them accepting an offer at the end of the process is going to be far greater.

Step 2: Helping candidates fall in love

Once you understand the individual’s motivators, you can start to personalize the experience. However, keep in mind that the drivers leading a person to start looking for a career change are different from those that will make them fall in love with a new job at your company.

The interview process is a key area where an employer can offer a personalized experience. While standardization of interview questions across candidates is advisable, there is no reason the overall…

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