Want to build more rapport with candidates and set yourself apart from other recruiters? Use the 50 percent rule.
There are a lot of metrics for measuring recruiting success. Most recruiters focus on the big statistics: the number of placements made, interviews received, candidates submitted or commissions earned.
It’s easy to set goals with these metrics in mind, but what type of day-to-day adjustments will improve these numbers and allow you to reach your goals? Let’s start with one easy step.
The 50 percent rule
The 50 percent rule says you should make sure the candidate is speaking at least 50 percent of the time in each conversation you have with them. (Click here to Tweet this rule.) Fifty percent is a bare minimum or baseline. If the candidate ends up talking 70 to 80 percent of the time on a phone call, that’s great.
Do you talk more than 50 percent on your calls? Some recruiters are above 75 percent. Start noticing your ratio and work toward bringing your number below 50 percent. The easiest way to change this ratio is to ask questions and listen to the answers, and not interrupt.
How can one minor change improve nearly every area of your recruiting? The 50 percent rule allows you to build more rapport with each candidate you speak with.
It’s natural to want to talk at least half the time on a phone call. You have an urge to talk, and the candidate does, too. Whoever talks more will probably walk away from the call feeling more satisfied and comfortable. Whose comfort is more important to you?
Rapport is essential
Rapport gives you credibility. Learning to be a better listener early in the recruiting process helps you build trust with each candidate down the road. You’ll have a better understanding of their concerns, and you’ll have more influence when you make suggestions in the later stages.
This relationship is what makes candidates pay attention when you explain why it might make sense for them to take a lateral move or why the job you have for them is a better opportunity than the position they’re considering. Without this connection, you’ll have less control as the interview process moves forward.
Strong rapport will help you work with candidates to overcome obstacles and deal-breakers. The end result is that you’ll place more candidates in jobs.
Being silent for a larger portion of each call has some additional benefits.
Most recruiters talk too much, so you’re going to sound different if you use the 50 percent rule. Candidates will notice your ability to listen, and you’ll separate yourself from other recruiters, especially the newer ones.
When asking for referrals, a bit of silence after your initial question encourages the candidate to think harder and put more effort into coming up with names. Resist the urge to start talking again if you haven’t heard an immediate response.
This is true in other parts of the conversation, too. Don’t be afraid of silence. The 50 percent rule gives you more time to think during each conversation. This can help you come up with ideas to overcome objections or handle obstacles that arise.
All of this will result in an increase in the number of candidates who allow you to submit them for jobs. Of the candidates you submit, a greater percentage will become placements, and you’ll earn far more money as a recruiter.
Biron Clark is an executive recruiter specializing in the biopharmaceutical industry. He’s also a career advice blogger and founder of www.careersidekick.com. You can find him on LinkedIn here.