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In recent years, an informal and friendlier approach has become more commonplace amongst recruiters and their candidates. Big-name brands such as L’Oréal use emojis in their recruiting process, while Facebook, traditionally seen as a more personal social media site than LinkedIn, is used by 55 percent of recruiters, who are advised to ‘friend’ their candidates.

Although it makes sense to build rapport and trust with candidates, making them more likely to honestly confide in you, trust your judgement and even choose your roles, recruiters must take care not to overstep boundaries by being too chummy and unprofessional.

Here, we draw the line between inappropriateness and professionalism when it comes to befriending candidates.

When in doubt, be formal

Although chatty and chummy communication styles are often a great way to build rapport with candidates, many people will find it inappropriate. This is especially true during the first few interactions when you are still strangers to each other. In contrast, a more reserved communication style is so common in the professional sphere that few people will be actively put off if you reach out to them in a formal manner. When in doubt, play it safe.

Observe and read the person

Because people are complicated and rarely fit into boxes, you should avoid painting your candidates with the same brush stroke. While a candidate may chat candidly to you about their personal circumstances face to face, they may not appreciate a text riddled with emojis. The trick to creating a great relationship with all candidates is to learn to read their social cues. If someone seems to react badly to a particular form of communication, drop it. Often, it’s easiest to let them set the tone: if they’re cracking jokes to you, it’s probably safe to banter back, and so forth. However, bear in mind that this works less well with introverted candidates or career starters, who may think an over-formal style is required but would really open up under a friendlier approach.

Avoid snap assumptions

People often fall into the trap of formulating assumptions based on tired stereotypes, and this reflects in the way they interact with others. Remember to treat every candidate equally until you get a better idea of how you can tailor your relationship with them appropriately. This will help you build up a reputation as the ultimate professional in your career as a recruiter. Candidates are people and as a rule, people don’t like feeling as though somebody has assessed and labelled them.

Remember that you are on the job

While you may have developed a positive relationship with your candidate, it’s important to never lose sight of the fact that this is strictly a working relationship. That means there are some boundaries that cannot ever be crossed. Alternatively, you mustn’t forget that candidates who are interested in your role have a pretty strong motive to keep on your good side. That could mean they’re exaggerating or even faking their friendliness, and/or they haven’t pointed out that they find your chumminess uncomfortable because they don’t want to sabotage a job opportunity.

Be genuine

Nobody likes a try-hard, so it's best to be genuine when interacting with candidates.Some recruiters are extroverts, while others are introverts. In order to build trust, it’s important to ensure that you remain true to yourself. Overdoing the chumminess is a sure way to put off your candidates, as they can see right through the façade.

We want you on our team

Are you an experienced recruiter looking for your next role within the industry? Search Consultancy is a nationwide recruitment agency that offers a wide range of jobs from a variety of specialist industry sectors. If you feel you would be an ideal addition to our team, please do not hesitate to contact our internal recruitment team on internalrecruitment@search.co.uk Take a look at our recruitment consultant jobs that we have on offer here.