Why Empathy Makes You a Better Recruiter

If asked to name key traits of successful recruiters, you would probably cite the usual: communication skills, which include listening; confidence; patience; and flexibility, among others.

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But what about empathy?
Although often associated with leadership, empathy doesn’t usually come up on a list of recruiter traits. Perhaps it should.

What It Is

The American Heritage Dictionary definition of empathy is “the ability to identify with or understand the perspective, experiences, or motivations of another individual and to comprehend and share another individual’s emotional state.”
MindTools, a provider of online management and leadership training, describes it this way: “Empathy is simply recognizing emotions in others, and being able to ‘put yourself in another person does shoes’ – understanding the other person’s perspective and reality.”

When Recruiting

Candidate screening requires interacting with people from different backgrounds. These individuals have a wide range of perspectives and realities based on individual experiences with which you may not personally – or even professionally – be familiar.
The ability to acknowledge this is the first step toward empathy. Then, you need to make an effort to bridge this gap.

How to Use It

In order to use empathy effectively in a workplace setting, MindTools recommends you consider the following:

  • Put aside your viewpoint, and try to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  • Validate the other person’s perspective.
  • Examine your attitude.
  • Listen.
  • Ask what the other person would do.

Why Go There

In the course of a busy workday, it’s convenient to make quick assumptions about fit. Yet, if you don’t recruit with empathy, you may miss important information about a candidate—and miss out on a person who is right for the job.
Recruiting with empathy also allows you to become more engaged overall, and engagement will lead to more genuine conversations. This reflects positively on your company and your employer brand, and it furthers your talent acquisition efforts.
As important, if not more so, empathy makes you a better human being. While your company may reap the benefits of your attention to empathy when recruiting, you will benefit personally by developing and exhibiting this trait.

Paula Paula Santonocito, Contributing Editor for Recruiting Daily Advisor, is a business journalist specializing in employment issues. She is the author of more than 1,000 articles on a wide range of human resource and career topics, with an emphasis on recruiting and hiring. Her articles have been featured in many global and domestic publications and information outlets, referenced in academic and legal publications as well as books, and translated into several languages.

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