If we’re to properly get to grips with recruitment, to make sure that we’re introduced the right people to our organizations in the right way, then we need to think deeply about how recruitment works and what it does. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of job specs and tick-box interview questions. But if you’re using old-fashioned and outdated recruitment practices then you’re likely to get old-fashioned and outdated recruits, and even if you don’t then that’s the impression you’ll give them of your company.

Recruitment sets up the relationship with your new employee, as well as picking out the right person. So how can we better understand what’s going on in this process, and so do it better?

Hiring vs recruitment

Seth Godin has talked about the difference between hiring and recruitment. In Godin’s terms, hiring is the process of letting people know that you have a job available and they should apply. Recruitment, on the other hand, is the art of singling out the right person for the job and persuading them to take it.

This labeling of ‘hiring’ and ‘recruitment’ might be a little arbitrary, but the thinking behind it isn’t. As with any task, there are different ways to approach recruitment. One is to take the low effort, low thought, well worn path. You put adverts in newspapers, magazines and websites. You wait for potential recruits to come to you. You go through tests and interviews following a familiar formula.

The alternative is to think carefully about what you’re doing, tailoring it to the job you’re recruiting for and the person you want. This isn’t just about listing the right skills, it’s about thinking in terms of personality, behavior, connection to your organization. It’s about the impression you make on recruits, not just the impression they make on you. It’s about thinking through the process, not just the details.

There’ll always be an element of hiring to the process. You don’t want to throw out the support structures it provides. But you don’t want to be held in place by them either. That’s where the art of recruitment comes in.

An emotional connection

A large part of what you want to achieve, the thing for which that art of recruitment is absolutely essential, is forging an emotional connection.

We like to talk about being in touch with our emotions, about trusting our guts. But what was once a Hollywood cliché is now becoming a reality. Young people are raised in a society that helps them reflect on and understand their feelings like never before. Self-help books clue us in to our own subconscious. Even the older generations, well established in their lifestyles and careers, are learning more about themselves through the growing popularity of counseling and meditation.

This means that you can’t just rely on rationality to bring people round. The most capable people are usually those who best understand their emotions and those of others. If you don’t make an emotional connection to them then no amount of rationalizing will win them round.

Social tools are central to making an emotional connection with job seekers. They let you show your personality and make a connection into potential applicants’ lives. But this will only work if you are aware of the emotions your brand evokes. Your brand is the emotional messenger in the crowded conversations of social media. So make sure that your brand is transparent and in line with what you want to achieve.

Don’t try to fudge the issue. If someone isn’t interested in your company as it really is, if you can’t get them passionate about your work before recruitment, then you never will while they’re there. Use your brand to make an emotional connection, and to find people well aligned to your business.

The nitty gritty of hiring

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t also concern yourself with the details of the hiring process. Far from it.

Those details will also convey information about you to applicants in ways that you don’t always intend, and that can hamper the emotional connection. If your recruitment system is faulty, your process old-fashioned or intimidating, then those are the impressions you’ll create on new recruits, and the approach to their work that you’ll encourage once they join you. So getting your approach right isn’t just a matter of saving you effort, it’s about the quality of the results.

There are some aspects of this that are purely about the systems you have in place. Having an up to date application tracking system will help things to run smoothly. Being plugged into mobile recruitment will create an impression of modernity as well as allowing applicants to connect to you at a time that’s convenient for them. Social networks can be used to funnel applicants smoothly towards your application portal, as well as to create those vital emotional connections.

It’s about focusing on the right details, the ones that will make the process go more smoothly and give you and the applicant time to get to know each other. The logical extension of this is to work with likely recruits on a project first, before committing to a long term hire. It might sound like more effort, but it ensures a good fit for both sides and will save you from problems with poor engagement and recruiting for the post again not far down the line.

Getting the right people into your organization the right way involves understanding the difference between recruitment and hiring. It also involves getting both of them right.