Managing customer expectations, regardless of service or industry, is key to success. For recruiters however, managing expectations is not only key, it can also be difficult. The challenge stems from the fact that the product a recruiter delivers isn’t a product at all, but a person. The entire human experience, the good and the bad, comes with each candidate you submit, which means there is a wealth of factors involved that are completely beyond your control. Both you and a client may be expecting one thing from a recruit, only to have it suddenly turn out to be something completely different. When things go wrong clients will end up looking to you for an explanation. With that in mind, what can you do to ensure your clients, whether they be internal or external, have the right expectations?

The first thing to do is to actually have a conversation about what those expectations are. You would be surprised at how few recruiters actually do this. Oftentimes the discussion is limited to discussing estimated time to fill, desired skill set, and, at least for external recruiters, what kind of commission will be paid upon placement. However, there’s more that needs to be considered than just that. Here are some key points you should cover when you begin the recruitment process:

  • Which candidate skills are must-haves versus nice-to-haves
  • Anticipated number of qualified candidates to be delivered
  • Expected response times from hiring managers (this can be KILLER)
  • Type of feedback needed from hiring managers
  • Potential stumbling blocks in the recruitment process
  • How often the recruiter and the hiring manager should be coordinating
  • What feedback the recruiter can expect after a hire is made

Most of the points we’ve listed here center on communication. With increased communication you’ll find that you’ll have an easier time managing expectations in the event that difficulties arise.

In addition to knowing what to cover, you also need to know how you should cover it. There are three basic points to keep in mind when setting expectations:

  • Undersell and over-deliver

One of the best ways to keep people happy is to beat their expectations. In order to safely do this we recommend committing only to things that you know you can do. This might not be sexy, but it allows you to be much more confident in your actions. Furthermore, it ensures that anything you deliver that falls above this minimum will be perceived as a bonus.

  •  Write it down

This doesn’t necessarily have to be part of a contract, but creating a written outline of expectations for all parties makes thing much clearer and avoids the misunderstandings that can come from a verbal agreement. It also makes it clear what the client will be responsible for throughout the process.

  • Use software that can keep people up to date on your process

When people can see how your recruitment pipelines are growing and developing they’ll have a better appreciation of your work and the value you deliver. Some recruiters only send CVs to hiring managers at the very end of the process, but until those CVs come in some hiring managers might be thinking the recruiters aren’t doing any work.

We’ve had several Hello Talent customers who have told us about how they’ve shared pools with hiring managers, who have then loved watching talent pools grow and have been move involved in the entire process because of the transparency Hello Talent provides. Create your free account here

Keep it Human!

The last thing to keep in mind is the Keep it Human Rule. This is where you need to remember that you are not just dealing with quotas, you’re dealing with human beings. In the past we’ve talked about the importance of personalizing communication with candidates, but it can be equally important to inform your clients about the unique personalities and needs of candidates they see. Whether you are dealing with a high-potential, in-demand candidate or someone with unique family responsibilities you can use this information to help the hiring manager understand how the company should be pitched, what kind of accommodations will be needed to maximize performance, how the onboarding should go, etc.

While some might say that this is the responsibility of the hiring manager and HR, you as the recruiter are the one who can shape expectations in a way to make sure that the human factor, the personal stuff that we all deal with at some point or another, is seen as an opportunity rather than an obstacle.

One of my favorite examples of this comes from a talk I saw from Jim Stroud. During this particular talk Jim spoke about recruiting and hiring people on the autism spectrum. Individuals with autism often interact with others in a way that can seem socially distant or awkward, which can ruin their chances during a job interview despite the fact that they’d be great for the job. However, Jim shared that when recruiters educate hiring managers on autism and how to better understand people who are on the spectrum, the recruiting and interview experience changes drastically. Because hiring managers are better prepared they are able to more effectively appreciate how the candidate could actually contribute to the team, rather than simply judge how good they are at maintaining eye contact or reading social cues.

Managing expectations is key to your success as a recruiter. If you take the time to cover all they key points, discuss, create, and share expectations in the right way, and remember to keep it human you’ll find that the process will not only go more smoothly, but that both your hiring managers and candidates will have a better experience.