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Feb 26, 2019

This is a little bit of a hot button for me. I am a highly relationship driven person. In my opinion, the best recruiters are. Here’s a story that tells you a lot about how I operate.

Over ten years ago I was selling IT staffing services. This was before I was in a corporate environment. I was at a networking breakfast and had the pleasure of sitting next to a wonderfully engaging HR leader. We had a delightful conversation about multiple topics throughout the event. When things were wrapping up, she told me she had an opening for a corporate recruiter and asked if I’d be interested in discussing the role. I told her I had loved talking to her but to be honest; I wasn’t an outstanding recruiter. She smiled and said she wasn’t worried about that; she’d teach me how to recruit. She was more interested in someone who could create strong relationships between HR and the business units. One thing led to another, and I soon moved into the corporate world of recruiting.

Besides that leader becoming probably my best mentor of all time, I grew thoroughly convinced of the power of building relationships.

How Is This Relevant

In my opinion building relationships is mission critical to being a successful recruiter. When you can build strong working relationships, both inside and outside your company, you set yourself up for referrals and other beautiful things.

I have often tried to form referral partnerships with recruiters in other companies. I’ve even tried to build referral partnerships with competitors, but as you might imagine, that is typically ignored or outright rebuffed. What surprises me is that many of my fellow recruiters in non-competing companies rarely want to share referrals. This truly baffles me. We are all in the same community.

Here are several reasons why you should form referral partnerships.

You Learn More

I’m a big fan of continually learning. When I pick up the phone or send an email to someone in talent acquisition in another company, and they respond, I’m learning something. I learn about that person, I learn about the company they’re with, I learn who they are looking to recruit, and maybe most importantly how they recruit. I’ve learned some great new techniques by talking to a fellow recruiter in another company. In particular, I’ve learned some great new sourcing tactics.

You Spread The Word Better

If you think about it having several solid referral partnerships helps you spread your message to a much wider audience. When you actively reach out to someone about an opportunity, and they aren’t interested, there’s a chance they will refer you one or two other people. That’s a good thing.  If you take that several levels up and have some good referral partners, they might be able to send you many candidates that are interested in your opportunity. The reason being is that they also speak to a lot of candidates. And if a candidate doesn’t fit their requisition, maybe they match yours. And is interested in talking with you. That’s a great thing.

You Can Help More Candidates

Imagine if you speak to someone that isn’t a fit for a role you are working on but might be for your buddy who recruits for a different company. When you offer to send the resume on you are providing the candidate with more open doors than they can usually get on their own.

I tend to do a lot of recruiting for sales folks. There are many different types of sales positions. I have found great success in sharing resumes and backgrounds of sales folks with other recruiters who are always looking for salespeople. Compensation needs, structures, product, size of deals, and other details make certain “fits” better than others for different candidates.

You Find New Ponds to Fish In

I have certainly learned new places to find candidates by having some good referral partners at other companies. I don’t know about you but I can certainly get stuck in a rut looking in the same places. As curious as I am about learning new things sometimes it just takes looking in new locations. One of my favorite new ponds to fish in a while back was alumni job boards. For some reason, I had just never thought that. Then one day someone who agreed to exchange best practice ideas told me about it. It turned out to be a nice new tool to add to the arsenal.

It Helps Our Community

Coming from the agency world helped me tremendously in the corporate world. To this day I don’t understand recruiters who are always comfortable remaining behind the HR wall of process. Recruiters should be the marketers of a companies culture. They should be out front, building their brand AND the company brand. When there are a lot of us out doing this, it helps our recruiter community. It’s a great way to help build the recruiter brand in general as well.


There are plenty of good reasons to build referral partnerships. It not only helps you as a recruiter but it also helps candidates and our recruiter community.

If you are always looking for great sales candidates like I am, please reach out and let’s set up a referral partnership.

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