It is many years now since I started out in recruitment and there have been massive changes in the industry since that time. However, there are some fundamentals that remain for those embarking on the first steps into their career journey in recruitment in 2019.

Obviously, the tools we use to recruit have changed but building and nurturing relationships in an industry now mostly technology-based is more important than ever. If you work hard to build credible and relationship driven networks, you will thrive and make life more straightforward, as a well cultivated network will do nothing but help you to become a successful recruiter

Here’s my tips to successful relationship building:

  1. Use social media to network not sell

Using social media such as LinkedIn, which remains the platform of choice for the industry, to just post jobs to your network will not add value or opportunity to engage and get your target audiences interested in developing a relationship with you.

It is crucial that you post regular and relevant content, with some element of business focus, as well as commenting on other’s posts and really engage in what your target market/sector are talking about by. The key with engagement is to create value driven at your network’s expectations not your own so follow the 80/20 rule. This means 80% of your posts/shares/comments should add value/be of interest with just 20% having a ‘soft’ sales focus.

  1. Build a reputation for being trustworthy

Relationships are built on trust so deliver on your promises and meet your customers expectations. It is still true today that both clients and candidates are more likely to recommend colleagues, contacts, refer you into other businesses and generally commit to a process if they trust you. Trust is a key component as without it your job becomes harder as you will be searching high and wide for relevant candidates and jobs to complete the process.

  1. Develop your communication skills

Much of the training I deliver focuses on this one – I cannot stress how important it is to do this!

Good recruiters will develop the skill to quickly spot the type of social style each person they are dealing with favours. They will be able to vary their own communication to facilitate great conversations allowing their prospects to be themselves and feel comfortable.

This versatility in flexing your own communication style is an art that too few people possess, most talk and communicate they way they like which will not help build those all-important productive relationships.

  1. Plan, plan and plan again

Do your research and acknowledge that it can be tough to get through to decision makers. This proves the value in research and knowing about your market BEFORE you make calls not afterwards. Your prospect clients are inundated with calls that are poorly researched, and industry surveys regularly suggest a lack of research from sales professionals is a key frustration.

  1. Manage your own expectations and those of your customers

When you do speak with potential clients ensure you don’t expect them to give you their undying commitment on that first call. Business development is a process, especially in recruitment, so think of it like dating! Get to know your prospect, and let them get to know you, before expecting them to take the relationship to a more serious level. Ask questions and then more questions to develop an understanding of how they work what they expect from a recruiter and, above all, refrain from selling early.

Move your prospect to a position where they are choosing to buy and understand the real value of the service you offer. This naturally happens as the relationship builds and trust develops through mutual understanding of each other’s challenges.

  1. Be authentic

Authenticity means having integrity and being honest, however, it is essential you are able to adapt your style to any given situation. Whatever the situation, it is important you avoid trying to be something you are not; being authentic is key to building trust in relationships.

Build your own confidence in what you do through developing your knowledge and skills as a recruiter, this will allow your attitude and focus to be naturally authentic. Have high standards in what you expect of yourself and the type of candidate and client you work with too.

And remember to focus on developing business for the long-term not solely quick and short-term wins. Those candidates will be potential clients one day, so it is equally important to be authentic with them by building trust and rapport. That particular audience are often overlooked or not deemed important unfortunately by many recruiters.

  1. Ask questions and listen to the answers

Key skills in recruitment and sales are the ability to ask great questions and listen to the answers, not to talk over your customer and push products or inappropriate roles at them. These need to be practised allowing you to ask those difficult challenging questions that mean your client or candidate will warm to you and engage, which then allows the recruitment process to run effectively.

  1. Stay resilient!

Soft skills and attitudes such as resilience, persistence and being organised are a must, as are dealing with frustration and rejection, which are essential in recruitment! Your attitude to your job must remain positive even when you feel like you are trying and not getting far. Don’t get desperate and lower those high standards, keep doing the right things with enough quality and the results will come.

  1. Add Value

Start to see yourself as a networker not simply a sales person. This means you help people in your network often without personal gain and it is guaranteed that you too will get the help you need. This will allow you to develop yourself, your recruitment career and your earnings.

In summary, the days of the hard sell in any industry, not just the people driven world of recruitment, is well and truly over. People buy from people, so develop and nurture those business relationships with clients and candidates alike and you will definitely reap the rewards over time.

If you are a recruiter or involved in the recruitment sector and any of the above are not how you or your teams currently work their sales magic, then please get in touch. We would be delighted to arrange a brief call to establish any support we could offer – email me at