It was the recruiter, not the assignment, that won over this consultant

Among all the recruiters I’ve worked with as an experienced IT consultant, one stands out from the rest. Despite the fact that, from first contact, it took a year for him to match me with the right opportunity, he proved to be the best career partner I could hope to find. Let me explain.

two years ago, this recruiter offered me a position, but the client required a security clearance process that took more than seven weeks. During that time, I wasn’t sure it would work out and ended up taking another assignment with a different staffing firm. However, even though I’d signed on with another company, the recruiter continued to treat me as part of his firm’s family — so much so that when my assignment ended I reached out to him instead of the recruiter responsible for that assignment. One year later, I officially started work as a consultant with his firm.

What brought me to that point? I came to admire the “familial” approach he used to recruit me. Here’s what he did to make me feel like he was the best career partner for me:

He established a relationship with me. He didn’t just call me to run a job req by me. Even though the first opportunity fell through, he approached our communication as if he were building a relationship. That’s not a common approach — relationships take time.

He nurtured the relationship. He checked in with me frequently and sometimes the calls weren’t strictly business-related. He would ask about me and my personal experiences and we got to know each other better.

He showed his personal side. While it’s clear that he knows and respects the line between personal and professional, he wasn’t afraid to show he cares. In a professional manner, he asked me about my personal hobbies and interests and found it easy to talk about them with me.

He’s vested in my professional wellbeing. During my other assignment — and now — he would ask me how things were going in with it. He wanted to know what challenges I was having and what I was learning. I felt that he cared about my experience and about my career.

He acted as though I was already a colleague. I was (happily) surprised when he invited me to his company’s holiday party and equally amazed when he told me they were putting my photo on the company intranet. “But I haven’t worked a day for your company,” I thought. However, their take was that “someday you’ll work for us.” It was comforting to have such a confident career partner and to be part of the “family.”

He was very responsive. When I contacted the recruiter to let him know I was available after my assignment with another firm had ended, he got back to me very quickly (within 24 hours). I respected that about him. That’s what I would do if it were my job.

While the individual recruiter’s interpersonal and relationship skills are very important to attracting and retaining candidates, having an additional uniform recruiting tool would be an excellent supplement to benefit all of the recruiters. At the company level, we could all benefit from extending the recruiting process to developing better onboarding practices. For example, you could produce a short online presentation to create an excitement in potential candidates highlighting why they would want to be a part of the firm’s “family.” Additionally, offering training, career development opportunities, and paid sick time and time off would strengthen the benefits package for consultants.

Overall, though, I can honestly say that the reason I’m working with my current firm is not because they matched me with a good opportunity; it’s truly because of the way my recruiter treated me during my job search process and continues to treat me today.