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Thought Leadership

Step Away from the Screen

You limit screen time for your kids -- shouldn't you also limit it for yourself and your recruiting team?

Tuesday, February 21, 2017
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If you're a sensible parent, you limit screen time for your kids. While they might be content to spend all day with Dora or Jessie, you don't want their sole pre-college experience to be channel surfing, or whatever the kids are calling it these days.

Getting them outdoors, getting them into sports -- or better yet, getting them talking to each other -- seem like important ways for you to be a good parent.

So if that's what's important at home, couldn't you say the same thing at work? Shouldn't you also be limiting screen time for yourself and your recruiters? Is your talent acquisition team stunting its effectiveness by spending all of its time glued to the glowing screens of the Internet instead of talking to each other -- or, even more importantly, talking to candidates?

We all know that the tools of modern recruiting require spending a fair amount of time in front of a screen. But at its core, recruiting remains a fundamentally human business. Recruiters who've mastered the art of conversation, are comfortable interacting with people from a variety of different backgrounds and understand how to pick up on non-verbal cues will be more successful than their screen-fixated colleagues.

Yet, with 40 percent of millennials reporting that they interact more with their smartphones than their loved ones or co-workers, you might wonder about their priorities. The dark flip side of our extraordinary communications revolution is that all of these wonderful means to distract, tease, engage and titillate your eyeballs do the same to your workforce. And for many of them (and perhaps you, as well), the Internet is not just a safe space for recreation, it's also their happy place and comfort zone.

Getting millennials to put their phone down in order to pick their phone up and make a call can be a task that would test even the patience of the Dalai Lama. But we know from everything we've experienced, and a good bit of research as well, that even the presence of a phone as a crutch hurts the quality of human interactions. Whenever we have a means to fill up those passing seconds, or glide away from even the small discomforts of human conversation, we miss something much more important.

That's because spending time in person, face-to-face, creates a bond between two people that's as old as the hills. There's something about grabbing a coffee, sharing a drink, or catching up over lunch -- with smartphones put away -- that draws people closer together than any electronic communication.

If we have the too-easy escape of the smartphone, the meaningful silences and pregnant pauses of human communication are left behind. And it is precisely those tics, mannerisms and silences that speak volumes.


Leave Bad Habits at Home

Out of the office, your team may spend an awful lot of time on their smartphones. And that's OK, because it's their time, after all. If that’s how they blow off steam, then more power to them.

But when those leisure-time pursuits transform into lazy habits that carry over into the workplace, or when those comforts of home become a behavioral rut in the office, it's time for you, as a leader, to step in and set everyone back on the right path.

It's important to remind your team that their work life is not about what's most comfortable for them, but about delivering results for the team and the company.


Variety: It's Essential for Modern Recruiting

Having just one approach to recruiting is not good for your recruiting efforts -- or your recruiters. You're aware that different candidates, different roles and different experience levels, each require a different style of recruiting. Technology leaders may require a more cerebral, facts-driven approach, media executives may be thrilled to be contacted via Snapchat, and it's often best to keep it plain and sensible with your finance recruiting. Just as in real life, everyone marches to their own drummer.

Learning to match one's own style to that of a candidate or prospect is part of the growth curve for any member of your talent-acquisition team. And if they're relying on one avenue, one approach or one style, they'll never get better at all the rest.

If you're looking to run an effective, modern, flexible and capable recruiting effort at your company, then it's important to limit screen time for your recruiting team (and to set a good example yourself). 

They need to develop skill and expertise in voice-to-voice communications. As with any skill you're assisting your team in developing, you'll need to monitor and nudge. When you're sitting in on phone calls, or in-person interviews, are they able to pick up on nonverbal cues? Are they able to vary their tone, tempo and theme to match the candidate's needs and preferences?  Do they build enthusiasm and interest on the part of the candidate throughout the interview? All of these small but important tactics in recruiting are essential building blocks to a more effective toolkit.

And they are important because recruiters need to learn that human bonding may be reinforced by texting and emails, but bonding can't be kicked off that way.

Limiting screen time also helps your recruiting team realize they need to delineate between their private pursuits online and their behavior in the office. If we're constantly bouncing between Instagram, Facebook, and Slack, it gets easier to slip up and say the right thing in the wrong way to an important candidate.

And a final reason for limiting screen time for the recruiting team is that everyone needs to bolster their toolkit with a wide variety of recruiting approaches, and not just rely on what they're most comfortable with. As they progress, you'll see them thrive when they learn to turn brief texts into small thrills for candidates, or know when a data dump of PowerPoints and PDFs is the right way to engage more analytical recruits, or sense when hovering over shared pumpkin spice lattes is the best way to a "people person's" heart.

So here are some practical steps to get your team off their screens: 

*Set a goal for each recruiter to have coffees, breakfasts or lunches out of the office.

*Reward them for attending live events and bringing back business cards (or even just names and emails).

*Have a contest to see who can ask the most open-ended questions in a row to a candidate they meet in real life.

*Celebrate wins that come through offline methods with … an offline party.

Take these steps and you'll be looking at a more effective, productive team for years to come.

Marc Cenedella is the founder and CEO of Ladders Inc.


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