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Why Top-Tier Recruiters Must Embrace Their Creative Side

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People like to categorize and organize things into steps. We’ve read the “6 Keys to Wealth” and the “5 Steps of Personal Transformation,” and we’ve all heard of the “search process.” Recruiters also have steps: First, the market is mapped. Then, talent is identified, a short list is presented, interviews are set, and the candidate is offered the position. Finally, the deal is closed, and the candidate is onboard.

The client and candidate sail away into the sunset, hand in hand, future success all but guaranteed. This numbers approach suggests that landing great talent is the result of a series of identifiable steps, like baking a great cake. One, two, three, and voila, a great candidate is found.

We all know the truth is that searching for top talent is a little messy and a little more creative. Rather than being a line, it’s more like a jigsaw puzzle. However, all the pieces of the puzzle are mixed in terms of expertise and experience, and at times it seems that the picture will never be completed.

According to the dictionary definition, being creative is “the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc.; originality, progressiveness, or imagination.” The art and science of recruiting is made up of three creative parts: the creative search, the creative pitching, and the creative client engagement.

A recruiter who understands how to perform a creative search is able to go beyond a generic job description to understand exactly what the client is looking for. These recruiters have wide peripheral vision; that is, they don’t think in silos but in terms of what the candidate will need to accomplish in the first 18 months. The best recruiters develop deep trust in their candidates.

Throughout the search process, the candidate market evolves: Some candidates are unavailable or uninterested, some who were uninterested may become interested, and others who were interested may change their minds. A great recruiter understands candidates’ careers and that most have families and kids that need to be taken into the equation. It’s challenging and complicated, and the search isn’t complete until the candidate has been onboarded.

The search is not linear either. The success of a search is the sum of the talents, passion, and creativity of the consultant. Searching for top talent is a journey, a process of problem solving, marketing, sales, and building relationships with individuals in a candidate pool of varied skills, experiences, and goals.

Great recruiters engage in creative pitching. They are part detective, part salesperson, part marketer, and part coach. They are able to create an exceptional marketing presentation for the candidate pool that engages and enchants and has the candidates willing to meet their clients. Selling the company, the role, the line manager, the VP, or the CEO is not all plain sailing. Creative pitching means that recruiters are emotionally engaged. They paint a masterful picture, bringing the object of their pitch to life. They are able to tell a story that is alluring, captivating, magnetic, and leaves the candidate wanting to know more.

Creative pitching also involves understanding psychology. Recruiters need to know what is attractive to the candidate and that one size does not fit all. They are able to tailor their pitches to the candidates. What is attractive to one candidate may be a turn off to another. They enquire, probe, and don’t back away from disagreements or conflict, but they embrace the discourse and understand that communication is often a series of buying signals. Creative pitching seeks out diversity and conflict and merges the hard edge of scientific, evidence-based, quantifiable data with the soul of an artist.

Finally, great recruiters have creative client engagement, which complements creative searching and pitching. Recruiters are the HR eyes and ears for their clients in the employment market. They also deeply understand their client’s strengths, weaknesses, ambitions, and goals. They are not yes men and women; they are able to push and challenge their clients and to put into words their clients’ feelings, frustrations, hopes, and goals for their organizations. They are experts in dealing with people and are able to unearth the motivations and problems within organizations.

Great recruiters know that their clients win and lose based on the talent they recruit and retain. They know that extraordinary talent can make a huge difference to companies. They know their clients and the people that they hire. They understand the subjective meaning of a cultural fit for their specific clients. They are able to walk with their clients side-by-side, consulting with them and guiding them to land the best and brightest.

There are no guarantees of a company’s long-term success. Without doubt, a company’s employees can make the difference between a great company and an also-ran. Having the best people, in itself, stacks the odds in favor of success.

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