Time and time again I hear it, both from client and candidate; "recruiters don't understand what I am looking for". In a world of Applicant Tracking Systems, Boolean searches and Generalist recruiters, the keyword has taken over. I've heard candidates who were Java developers in 1998 be approached for Java roles and clients have told me they've been sent Accountants for a AX Functional Finance Consultant.

This is not good enough! Like it or not, when you work in the recruitment sector you are working in sales. You either need to sell the opportunity and the company to the candidate, sell the candidate to the hiring manager internally or sell your companies service AND the candidate to prospect clients.

Put yourself in a buyers shoes; if you go in to buy a car with your family, telling the car salesman you have $20,000 to spend and you play golf at the weekend. What you would expect is to be shown two family saloons and an SUV. So why do some recruiters deem it acceptable to send a Ferrari, a Smart Car and a $40,000 Mercedes-Benz C Class?!?

In every walk of life we come across salespeople and the majority of them know their product or service inside out. From ordering a sandwich in your local deli to buying a house, you will be asked about your requirements and then the relevant product will be delivered. This is exactly where we need to be in the recruiting sector.

Why it matters:

  • Candidates - This is your product. These are the people you want to work for your business or your client. Take the time to understand them above and beyond the keywords that you see. Ask them open questions to ascertain what they're doing such as, what they're doing to stay current and what they want to be doing next. Don't feel the need to ram something down their throats that doesn't fit because you have a quota to hit. If you do this your reputation will increase and the candidates will see working with you as a pleasure rather than a chore.
  • Clients/Internal Hiring Managers - These are the people that have given you the job requisition. If you've done your job right you will have gone above and beyond the job specification, understanding the technological environment, daily responsibilities, project deliverables etc. If you have all this information there is absolutely no reason why you should not be coming up with the goods; if you're not, there are plenty of competitors out there that will!
  • You - "Work smarter, not harder" is a phrase thrown around by many a business leader across the world; this is truly a place where it can be put in to practice. If you fully understand a client need from a technology perspective and understand what that candidate looks like and where to find them, you will improve productivity and results!

How to increase product knowledge:

  • As a recruiter, you will be speaking to candidates every day. These are the guys who know the technologies you are recruiting for inside out. Ask them questions about things you don't understand; "What impact will D365 have on you as a developer?" "What important factors will make the migration a success?" "How do you feel about working in a hybrid environment?"
  • Read articles/books/blogs - In a world of social media and bloggers, there are probably fifty articles a day published about 'the impact of D365', 'where custom development is going', 'what's next for ERP?' Gartner is also a great source of information on what's going on in the world of technology
  • Invest in training - I am in the lucky position in that the businesses I have paid to have external training from product experts. Although my colleagues and managers have had high levels of knowledge, hearing RPA professionals or Microsoft leaders discuss a product, and the impact on businesses and the things you need to know as a recruiter really set a great platform. Either pitch your business to do this or invest in it yourself. You should be investing around 2-5% of your annual income bettering yourself, and this is a perfect way.

You owe it to yourself, to candidates and your clients to get this product knowledge at the level it needs to be. I look forward to seeing you all reap the benefits!