Choosing the right recruiter leads to a successful career!
“You may look good on paper, but that doesn’t mean you meet all the qualifications”. Hearing this from a recruiter was heartbreaking. As a minority woman, with a doctorate in Conflict Resolution & Peacekeeping Analysis, Certified Mediator, Arbitrator, and Facilitator, with multiple years of hands-on experience in mediation and conflict resolution, I was surprised to hear such daggers from a minority man. In fact, I was replacing a white male who had an undergrad degree in music and no experience in mediation and facilitation. I personally had experience in project management, including six sigma training. I was offered a lower salary than the white male and was treated poorly by this recruiter. He made it a point in his harsh tone to let me know I was not qualified enough.
In that very moment, I realized despite being a highly educated minority woman, who was over-qualified for the job, recruiters do not always understand the caliber of talent they have in front of them. His next statement to me, “you are a credit to your race being a woman and all”. I was not sure how to take this statement- a compliment or an insult? Seeing the glass half full, I took the job and thanked him for this compliment and moved on. I was not going to dwell on it – if anything I can be kind. Literally two months later, I resigned from the contract position as the employer had offered me a full-time job with benefits and a well earned salary increase. I also found out that I was the preferred candidate for the contract job, something which they had relayed to the recruiter. The recruiter asked if I knew anyone with my “caliber” to back fill me. My response, “you need to get trained on your conscious biases and stereotypes for going out of your way in an attempt to make me feel less than my worth, perhaps then, I can recommend someone to work here.” To add insult to injury, the company which hired me eventually cut ties with the recruiting company. They had advised many of their candidates complained about the unprofessionalism from the recruiting company overall.
As an expert and leader in diversity, inclusion, and belonging, and conflict resolution, I have provided consultative services to many employers on how to recruit, retain, and represent company ethos and values with the recruitment process. Every individual in this world wants to be respected and treated with the utmost fairness. My advice to recruiting firms is simple: As a recruiter, it is essential that make the time daily to self-check your own biases and learn how to handle them. This is not a one-time thing, but a regular check-in with yourself. When an individual you find is very good at their job and is probably a better fit than what you think or prefer, you have to ask yourself, is this about me or what’s best for the organization? What kind an individual am I recruiting for an organization that is seeking candidates based on their ethos and values? A note to self: “I cannot let my biases get in the way. It’s not about me, but what’s best for the organization.”
In addition to regular self-checks on personal biases, the following three elements should always be on your checklist:
A balanced personality includes individuals who are cultured, considerate, and professional. The character of an individual helps to understand how they treat those around them, beneath them in terms of rank, and above. My personal belief: the best way to understand an individual’s character is to ask, “have you ever made a mistake and how did you deal with it?” Admitting a mistake to a supervisor is the first line of integrity and morality check of an individual. If individuals do not readily admit mistakes, especially major errors that may be a determinant to their organization, then gaslighting will be next including blaming others for mistakes and judgements. This will quickly result into a toxic workplace, potentially, followed by formal complaints that could cost your organization millions of dollars. Recruiters should be able to conduct a quick character assessment especially during a reference check.
Hiring an individual on their technical expertise is vital to the reputation of the recruiter. As a recruiter, ask yourself, “Is it worth hiring an individual who is a subject matter expert and highly toxic?” My suggestion, pose to the organization that has hired you the same question before you begin your search. Toxicity in the workplace results in high turnover and millions of dollars in payouts due to formal complaints. If an individual is hired for their talent and not talent plus character/personality, it is a major risk to lose talent and years of experience that cannot be replaced overnight. Your top talent will jump!
3. Diversity, Inclusion, and Emotional Intelligent
An individual who is a technical expert and has good morals and values does not always understand what it means to be diverse, inclusive, and have emotional intellect. Let’s face it, we have all come across individuals who lack the ability to empathize with others and their situations. When in search for the right candidate, an individual who appreciates diversity of thought, believes in finding talent based on knowledge, experience, and personality despite race, gender, or other beliefs is an asset to your organization. Recruiters, a good question to pose when seeking candidates for leadership positions, “if you were a manager and your employee needed time to pray multiple times a day, how would you accommodate them?” “An individual who thinks outside of the box and agrees to disagree with you on mission related items, how would you react?” These are simple questions that are open-ended to determine how an individual especially in a leadership role may react to practical situations in the workplace. If their responses lack any notion of teamwork, collaboration, and considerations for other perspectives while consistently being mindful of religious or cultural beliefs, but have strong technical expertise, then you have to ask yourself as the recruiter, do you relay this information to the hiring company? Or do you simply weed them out? After all, it is your reputation on the line. Sending forward an individual is a technical expert but lacks soft skills is a determinant to your client’s organization.
Recruiting is not an easy business. It is a business that requires the art and science of understanding technical talent and deciphering characters of candidates, while finding a balance between fulfilling your duties as a recruiter and keeping your reputation in check. Balancing is doable if you regularly conduct self-checks of your own biases and beliefs so that when you recruit, it is judgement free!
myopportunity.com has over 200,000 professional recruiters closely vetted to work and recruit the best talent for the right job. Biasses exist, make sure to do your homework so you don’t get caught up in it.
By Bina Patel, PhD
Transformational Paradigms: www.transformationalparadigms.com