A Baby Shark is Still a Shark
I’m sure my first job in recruiting was very different than most people. I started when I was 23 at a small family style company of about 10 people. Now just because we are small doesn’t mean we aren’t good at what we do, our 2:1 submittal to interview ratio is proof enough of that. But from having friends that worked at some of the larger staffing agencies in the area, I know firsthand it is a very different environment than most. I was lucky, I get to sit in the same room as people who have 25, 30, 35 years of experience and I get to pick their brain. Not only can I observe what they do on a day to day basis, I also get to listen to their conversations and see how they interact with people and build lasting relationships.
Things Get Awkward
However being the youngest recruiter in the room can get awkward at times. I can’t even count the number of times a pop culture reference has been made that has gone over my head, or a song comes on the radio that everyone starts talking about that I have never heard before. Granted this goes both ways – there are many references I mention that they don’t get either, “Bueller… Bueller… Bueller?” Obviously I know that these are situations that would happen when I am the youngest person in any room, but when you are the youngest recruiter in the room things are just as awkward but more specific to the industry. For instance when looking at a candidate’s resume I might not know that the company they currently work for was bought out 10 years ago and that the culture and technology changed drastically. There would be no way for me to be able to tell that just by looking at the company name, but the recruiter sitting next to me with 30 years of experience would know that within seconds, and would be able to call the candidate and connect to them about it showing their industry knowledge. I can’t do that, so instead of relying on years of experience I have to focus on other things that make me stand out. Give me a phone and I can connect with anyone about sports, books, movies, food, Philly, etc. I can learn about them and their interests and go from there.
Stick to the Basics
So as the youngest recruiter in the room I stick to the basics FORDS topics used by sales people in every profession to start conversations and build relationships.
F – Family
Now in recruiting this one can be tricky, there are many things legally that I am not allowed to ask. But I can show genuine interest in a candidate’s life and explore the topics that they bring up. If they mention that work-life balance is important to them, that indicates there is a pretty significant reason behind that request. And usually the candidates will explain why without being prompted.
O – Occupation
In recruiting, this topic should be blatantly obvious to explore, but I shouldn’t stop when I find out what they do for a living I should dive deeper. What got you started in your field? Why did you choose that specific path? What do you enjoy about your current job? How do you want to grow in the future?
R – Recreation
This can cover a large variety of topics, anything from the weather, to a basketball game that was on the night before, to plans for the weekend. Anything and everything is available to talk about when it comes to recreation, it just comes down to listening to the candidate and hearing what is important to them. I don’t have to have similar interests as them to find theirs intriguing.
D – Dreams
In recruiting this would go hand in hand with the Occupation section, because one of the main things we want to understand through our conversations with candidates is what they want to do in the future. What is important to them? Where do they see themselves going in the future? How can we help them get there?
S – Sports
Phillies, Eagles, Flyers, 76ers, Union, the list starts there but can cover anything from Little League to High School football to FIFA. No matter what the sport everyone has an opinion about the upcoming season, the players, the coaches and what they want to see happen. Some of the most fun conversations I’ve had on the phone were about college basketball, because both parties could share their passion for the sport and team in a fun and engaging way.
Technology and Social Media
I’m sure some people look at younger recruiters or those new to the business and see them at a disadvantage because of their inexperience or lack of years of industry specific knowledge. However I have learned that I really am at an advantage when I am the youngest recruiter in the room, because I look at each job and each candidate in a very unique and fresh way.
I’m young and fresh and can see the recruiting world from the glass half full perspective. I can see the possibilities, the distinctions, and the potential. One of the other advantages to being the youngest recruiter in the room is my ability to adapt to ever changing technology. I know how to work different angles or avenues on jobs than other people by using Social Media avenues like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat (ok I don’t actually use that one for recruiting but for entertainment on breaks).
This is where younger professionals and the majority of tech professionals spend a large amount of time. They have Facebook on a tab on their computer to chat with their friends, or the check Twitter when they take a bathroom break, or post a photo of their messy desk to Instagram. It is a time when their defenses are down and when it is easiest to start a genuine relationship. You can learn about their life, their interests, their likes, and what’s important to them. Not only does that give you more talking points it allows you to get a full bodied view of them and what their career growth looks like. Those avenues are easier for me as a younger recruiter because I don’t have to learn them, I already know how to use them I do it every day.
Overall, being the youngest recruiter in the room can lead to some very awkward, funny, and hard moments. But it should be viewed as asset in your recruiting tool box – a way to think smarter and ultimately work harder than the other recruiters around you.
Don’t let anyone tell you you’re too young to accomplish something.
A baby shark is still a shark.