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“We know that a job description and an actual position are simply different things, most of the time,” recruiting specialist Jennifer Maier begins. “A job description traditionally talks about what a company seeks from a candidate, and we need to focus on changing that. Today’s interview process goes both ways: clients need to realize that now they, too, need to work to highlight everything they have to offer in a working relationship.”
The face of communication has changed dramatically in just the last two years. In Jennifer’s work at Summit Search Group, she’s seen clear shifts in how we choose to make connections and tell our stories throughout the hiring process. We sat down with her to unpack the story behind hiring today’s talent: what do the tools look like? What details demand focus, and what gets lost in the noise? How can we make sure our message is heard?
“People really had a chance to reevaluate what is important to them over the last 2 years, and have a new perspective on what they are looking for in their next opportunity and their next employer.”
Communicating Hiring Opportunities Competitively
“Let’s start with the job description itself: it’s simply not important for this to be a comprehensive list of skills anymore,” Jennifer says. “A great job description should highlight opportunity first. What does your job offer the candidate? People want to know what makes your company different, and what’s in it for them. Is there an office gym? Have you excelled in your industry and won awards? Is there a remote or hybrid opportunity?”
She highlights that today’s candidate wants to hear the whole story: your company’s dedication to volunteering or a compelling commitment to your values will often outweigh traditional business metrics.
Exploring the “Obvious” Professional Details
“Open your mind! Give the entire picture: highlight everything,” Jennifer emphasizes. “Whether you’re looking at a role from the client or the candidate’s side, it’s easy to overlook the small moments that are obvious to you: you simply might not think to communicate certain things, because it’s common sense to you. While you may take those things for granted, they may not be as obvious as you’d think.”
For example, she’s sure to seek out the whole hiring team’s input before starting a search. “It’s helpful to talk to more than one person who’s involved in the hiring process, to ensure you get all perspectives: that way, we can paint the complete picture of the role and get everyone on the same page before moving to the next. I like to ask about backgrounds, successful hires, years of experience: pepper them with as many questions as possible!”
Capturing Personality Beyond Resumes
Jennifer focuses on the same depth – and yes, asks just as many questions – with candidates.
“What looks good on paper might not align with what someone can really offer, or what a team needs in terms of fit,” she notes. “Personality and work style, for example, aren’t on a resume. What does and doesn’t fit in a team? What’s your team missing? If we can, we always seek to open up the parameters of what a client sees for a job: we offer ideas that enhance an otherwise narrow plan, and invite more possibilities into a search. Many times that we’ve done this, a company connects with someone who might have seemed to be the least likely fit – with tremendous success!”
Elevating Open Communication in Recruiting
Jennifer makes it clear that it’s not about the communication tools: it’s the spirit of the approach.
“Good clients realize that they, too, are being interviewed throughout the hiring process,” she notes. “Some use full presentations – the ones they typically use to win projects – to connect with candidates. They work to highlight everything they have to offer. Candidates truly appreciate that, and it creates real rapport: they can tap into the “why” of what they do, and see themselves as part of the story.”
She also points to the effectiveness of “day in the life” style interviews: “Companies are now setting up interviews with peer groups to present a real, back and forth experience. It’s a different level of interview, and it offers a more direct way to get an idea of what the job will really be like, and how the team feels together.”
Capturing an Authentic Candidate Story
Candidates need to share their most genuine selves, too, Jennifer notes. “Video interviews can be helpful, but it’s not a good fit for everyone. It’s really about making your story, yours! Be sure you can offer examples of what you did, how you got the win, how you turned an objection into a yes. Be ready and confident in presenting your true self, and talking about what you bring to the table. We want to see your professional process, chapter by chapter.”
Finally, she emphasizes the importance of connection. “The hiring process, at its best, is a genuine way to gather insight. We want to build connections and excitement that translate into real life – and great endings!”
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The Recruiter’s Toolkit: Jennifer Maier on the Power of Storytelling and Finding a Genuine Fit
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