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Good Recruiters Create Good Relationships

All good relationships share a few common characteristics. Respect and honesty, for instance. Good relationships are also partnerships, where both parties are not only concerned with their own needs but work together to achieve shared objectives. 

Sometimes recruiters get a bad rap because they don’t spend time creating a solid, trusting relationship with candidates. This can be a challenge, for sure, especially in today’s intense labor market. But the benefits are many – better hires, happier clients and a stable of candidates that you can tap into when you need to fill positions.


Respect is at the heart of a good recruiter-candidate relationship. Respect for the candidate’s time. Respect for their career goals. Respect when they turn down a job because it doesn’t feel right. And respect even when they are wrong (!) because with respect you can see their point of view and maybe educate them on reality.

Part of being respectful is being honest and transparent. This starts at the very beginning of the relationship when you explain what you can do realistically for the candidate. This involves explaining how you work, what kind of jobs and clients you work with, your area of expertise and how you think you can help the candidate long-term. This initial discussion sets the stage for the entire relationship. It’s valuable to also talk about how the candidate can be a partner in the relationship. It’s about setting expectations.

As an example, let’s say a candidate lives in Missouri and is looking to work on-site. You know that you rarely have openings in that area. “I don’t see many jobs in Missouri,” you could say, “So, I probably won’t be reaching out to you much because I don’t want to waste your time. But if I do see anything, I will. Or if you change your requirements, let me know and I’ll see what I can find for you.” A simple statement like this shows respect for the candidate’s time as well as their career decision. It also keeps the door open.

Another example is sharing upfront all the information you can, like if a contract job could become permanent. Anything you know that will help create a better fit between the candidate, the employer and the job, shows respect for everyone involved.

Finding the Right Fit 

Of course, your task as a recruiter is to find the best fit candidate for the job. But we’ve all been guilty of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, convincing ourselves it will work out. To prevent this, spend time up front to learn about the candidate and their career goals. What has been their career path so far? What would they like to do next? How do they want to develop? What are their priorities – pay, benefits, work/life balance, etc.? Listen and ask follow-up questions. 

All this information-gathering leads to presenting the candidate with jobs that are a good fit. Again, this shows respect. You asked about their goals, you listened, and you come to them with good opportunities. That means not trying to undersell them on salary, for example, or convince them to take an on-site job when they expressly said they want remote-only. That’s a waste of their time and yours and, overall, it hurts the relationship. 

Using the Best Communication Channel

Because we have so many communication channels available today – text, email, phone, virtual – it’s valuable to know which channel works best for your candidates. This is part of being respectful of their time. Early on, ask how they prefer to communicate. Some folks will never answer a call but will respond to texts quickly. Or let them know how you will use different channels. For instance, texting might be easiest if you need to ask a quick question. Email for more complex information and phone to discuss something in more detail. Having this discussion up front can save a lot of time later.

It’s a Partnership All Around

As a recruiter, you are working for both the client and the candidate. Sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle. Good recruiters don’t just hand over the resume to the employer. They help the candidate throughout the process, equipping them to be as successful as possible. For instance, many candidates lack interviewing experience. So, a mock interview is essential, as well as providing resources like who they will meet with, their titles, LinkedIn profiles and company information.

Once they get the job, a good recruiter even provides all the information they need to start their first day. An even better recruiter checks in regularly to see how things are going. If there are problems, they can resolve them before they become major issues. This creates a strong relationship – a partnership really – with both the candidate and the client. The result is a satisfied employer who will use your services again and a candidate who will be happy to work with you in the future.

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