The real work of recruiting is building trust. You can't know what people need and want unless they trust you enough to open up to you – not just as professionals, but as people.
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As a recruiter, your trustworthiness is an asset you cannot be effective without.
But trust is fragile. It's complex. It can take a long time to build, and it can be broken in an instant. Here, I can help – by raising your awareness of five little things that can cost you your trustworthiness unintentionally.
1. Taking Safety for Granted
Psychological safety is the feeling people gain from subtle – and not so subtle – cues in their environments. Creating a container of safety is typically a gradual process. Yet, in the context of today's new norms of rapid-fire communication and eroding expectations of privacy, safety can easily be taken for granted.
You know you can be trusted. When you reach out to prospective candidates and clients, you know you're operating with the best intentions. But do the people you're trying to staff up and place know that?
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The truth is, not necessarily. At least, not right away. Or not without some reservation. To truly open up and express who they are and what they want – not just from work, but from life – people need to feel safe in your trustworthiness. They need to know you have their best interests at heart. That level of trust takes time to build.
Operate under the assumption that you've got your work cut out for you when it comes to establishing safety and building trust. Pay special attention to the rhythm and pace of your communications. Look for what's not explicitly communicated. Consider what others' tones, tenors, and energy levels tell you about what's most important to them.
Respect that, despite technological advances in communication, there's still an inherent back and forth, ebb and flow to establishing trustworthy relationships. It's in this ebb and flow that people connect at the human level.
2. Running on Assumptions
Assumptions are unavoidable. We all make them. Actually, we couldn't move through life on a daily basis without making them. But a trustworthy recruiter knows when a core assumption – about a position, about a candidate, about the future of the industry – should be tested.
Can you remember a time when you made an inaccurate assumption about a client's need or a candidate's proficiency? I'd imagine you can. People and teams are complicated, and it's impossible to accurately nail "fit" without fail.
How can you keep incorrect assumptions from derailing your trustworthiness? Check them out. Ask bold questions. Ask obvious questions. Ask more questions. Then, listen to the answers with the intent of fully understanding and making stronger choices.
3. Telling a Partial Truth
When it comes to developing their careers and organizations, no one likes to be surprised.
Is the candidate nearly a perfect fit – but lacking true proficiency in one critical skill?
Would this particular team provide fertile ground for the candidate's leadership growth – but there's rumor of the organization downsizing within the next year?
Allow people to make their own decisions about the risks they'll assume. Consider what you would need and want to know if the roles were reversed. Share the full truth as you're able within the confines of your role. If in doubt about what constitutes appropriate transparency, consult a trusted advisor.
4. Not Asking for Support When You Need It
Asking for support doesn't mean you aren't capable or qualified. In fact, asking for support in pinch-hitter moments is often the only way to guarantee you won't compromise your reputation as a trusted recruiter. Asking for support demonstrates your strengths and trustworthiness. In my work across dozens of industries around the world, I've found the biggest mistake leaders make is not asking for support when they need it.
Invest time in defining where you are confused. Or anxious. Or struggling. Identify the support you need and who can provide it. Then, go after it. Claim the support you need to develop your ability to serve.
5. Ignoring Your Intuition
"Fit" is more than the sum of the parts. When, by the numbers, Choice A is clearly better than Choice B, but your intuition is screaming for Choice B, tune in. Listen to your gut.
Ask more questions to gain the understanding you need to quantify what your intuition is telling you. Why? Because your intuition is more than just a little voice in your head. It's the spokesperson for your highest intentions. To do your best work, you need to develop and sustain trustworthy relationships with the people you serve. Your intuition is tuned to that need. Listen to it.
Successful recruiting requires trust. If candidates and clients can't trust you, you'll struggle to make great placements. So pay attention to your trustworthiness – and make sure you avoid these five pitfalls if you want to keep your reputation intact.
Dennis Reina, Ph.D, is cofounder of Reina, A Trust Building Consultancy.