A funny thing happened sometime in the last ten years. You can blame the Internet, Millennials or whoever you want, but the facts don’t lie: brand, branding or whatever you want to call it has become a big deal. And we’re not talking about some lame corporate re-brand, a new logo is not the point. Heck, we’re not even talking about employer brand. What we’re interested in is personal, well, actually it’s professional. See, recruiter brand isn’t a new concept per se, but like the state of the industry, it is evolving and with it, so must we.
Now, for the sake of transparency, let’s state the obvious: I am not a recruiter, at least not anymore. As a business owner, I have and continue to recruit partners, funding, employees, writers, and contractors. I was once upon a time full time, full cycle in healthcare, and you’re welcome to read all about my expertise and accomplishments in that role. So now that we’ve established that, here’s who I am: a person who has learned a lot about recruiting, a lot about brand and a lot of about what it takes to be successful in today’s world. And based on that experience, here’s what I know about creating a recruiter brand:
- The average candidate might not know what a recruiter is or what they do. Seriously. As insiders, we sometimes overestimate how much people understand about getting a job. Don’t expect people to understand who you are or why you’re calling them about their application. Translations vary but borrowing from Hippocrates, this means “either help or do not harm the (candidate).”
- There are a lot of myths and misconceptions out there about recruiters. It’s your job to debunk them. That’s right. For the sake of recruiters everywhere, you need to do this work. Because like it or not, recruiters are often, as Adam Karpiak puts it, “candidate therapists.” Being truthful and honest at every turn will help create a reputation that precedes you.
- Look to the legends. Did you know there are recruiting legends? Icons, even. And no, I’m not talking about those influencer lists that laud people with significant social followings. I mean people who have been in the trenches for decades. The people who remember recruiting before the ATS even existed. Find them and learn about their work.
- But you also need to know who you are and what you bring to the table. This one sounds obvious but trust me when I say that introspection challenges even the most self-aware person. Assess yourself as you would a candidate. Get to know who you are before introducing yourself to the world as any one thing.
- At the same time, figure out who you want to be. Ever hear of an archetype? Without giving too much of a history lesson, the idea is that there are only so many personalities and stories to tell. You could be a LinkedIn Sage or a Hiring Hero. It doesn’t have to sound that trite; it just needs to be well-defined and easily understood.
- Choose your own adventure. Sure, these books went out of print in 1998, but the idea of determining actions and understanding outcomes still holds up — voice, tone, style, marketing, packing and positioning, etc. Ultimately, your brand is what you make it, and you’re the only one who can decide what’s right for you.
- Balance what’s self-serving with what pays the bills. Yes, brand is valuable, but more so are placements. You can’t have one without the other, and you certainly won’t get anywhere without making at least a few happy hires. While you’re promoting yourself, make sure your work reflects your brand, your capabilities and the position you’re looking to fill.
Look, there’s a lot more to say about recruiter brand, and frankly, I’m not a specialist (apparently those are a thing). The point is, recruiting as a profession doesn’t always come naturally and if you’re looking to make it in this world, you need to overcome that. The best way to do that is to stand out from the crowd and be a resource, an authority, a guide or something equally useful. Parallel to that, you need to curate the hell of your online persona and make sure people can find you.
As for me…like I said, I’m not a physician and healthcare recruiter anymore. Not in the textbook sense of the term. Back when I was, my brand emphasized my healthcare specialties. I was known to surgeons, neurosurgeons, cardiologists and orthopods. I found that niche and stuck with it, connecting medical professionals with hospitals and practices across the country. Now I’m a different type of recruiter, connecting a community of recruiting professionals with like-minded individuals and the tools that help them do their work. Applications may have turned to articles, but in my case, the story remains about the same.