Both personal and professional relationships are infinitely complex. They can be immensely fruitful and rewarding, but—just as with any human interaction—they also provide the potential for people to make mistakes. The professional relationship among client, recruiter, and candidate is just like any other—each person must invest time and effort in order to make the partnership work well.

As a recruiter, you occupy a unique position between client and candidate; this places the majority of the burden for the success of the relationship squarely on your shoulders. First, you must work with the client to develop a detailed job description, source leads, wade through resumes, and create reasonable metrics in order to find top-notch candidates with the skill sets, experience, and “fit” the client is looking for. You have to work long and hard on the candidate side as well, particularly when it comes to navigating communication and collaboration with the client.

It’s easy to see how you might get bogged down by the weight of this responsibility. And let’s not forget that in the midst of managing this tricky relationship, you’re also trying to make a living. However, it will be much easier to get the job done—and provide the best placement possible—if you keep in mind that your job is more than a singular quick transaction.

A good recruiter has one primary goal: Facilitating long-term matches, not short-term commission.
Don’t leave your candidates or clients hanging.

It’s not uncommon for a recruiter to have a full pipeline of candidates for any job search. However, it’s important to remember that candidates have invested time and effort into developing solid resumes, researching the company, and preparing answers to possible interview questions. If you’ve put the ball in motion by reaching out to candidates, make sure to follow up and follow through. Keep them informed about where you are in the search process, even when it means they are no longer viable choices. Stick to the deadlines you’ve created; if that’s not possible, let them know.

Don’t forget patience is a virtue but accessibility is a gift!

Recruiters are often frustrated when a candidate or client isn’t able to wait for feedback. While it’s reasonable for you to expect them to be patient, it’s also reasonable for them to expect you to be accessible. You work hard, sourcing and vetting candidates while going back and forth with the client, but that shouldn’t make you unreachable. Returning status inquiry phone calls is not always possible, so limiting communication to emails is acceptable, especially early in the process. Be clear with candidates regarding the timeline for the search process. Schedule checkpoints for updates, and give them an end date that lets them know when they can expect to be notified about the client’s decision. Stick to those deadlines when you can; when you can’t, let them know.

Don’t forget the manners your mother taught you. 

Respect and politeness should always be standard protocols for any recruiter. Keep all communications professional. If someone isn’t interested, accept the answer graciously, and don’t continue to send inquiries. If you feel a candidate is pressuring you for information you don’t yet have, remember that he or she is simply eager to stay on your radar and have the best possible chance at attaining the position. (See #2.)

Don’t confuse your candidates and clients with smoke and mirrors.

Ultimately, you want to present the highest-quality candidates that meet your client’s requirements. If your focus is on gathering the largest possible number of candidates instead of finding the most qualified people, you will undermine your commitment to presenting the best available talent to your client. In addition, there are always top-notch candidates who are just not suitable for the current role you’re working to fill. Be open and honest with them. Let them know as soon as possible that they aren’t the right fit for the job. When possible, explain why. Offer suggestions on how to improve their resumes and become better candidates for these type of roles in the future, and perhaps suggest other roles for which they might be better suited.

Don’t act indifferent.

Clients want top-notch hires. Candidates want the best jobs. You want to please your clients by filling their searches with the best available candidates. In the end, everyone has the same goal: building successful, lasting professional relationships. In order to reach that goal, all the parties to the transaction must do their part. Clients must recognize that the recommendations you offer—directions regarding compensation, the interview process, and decision making—are based on experience and should be carefully considered. Candidates must also be willing to heed your advice: sticking to deadlines, following through with assignments, and adhering to the processes you suggest are all key components of success, and they show how eager candidates are to be placed. And you, the recruiter, must stay committed to your goal of providing long-term matches.

Never forget that you were hired for a reason. You bring expertise, access to top candidates, and a proven track record of successful long-term placements. You might not be the client’s or candidate’s only resource in their job search, but you are a vital one. If you remember to follow up, follow-through, be honest, and remain accessible, you’ll have all the key ingredients you need to build and maintain lasting, healthy relationships with your clients and the candidates they seek. Ultimately, the driving force behind any successful search is your commitment to finding a long-term match, and not just a short-term commission.

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