The “Whitman Style” of Recruitment: How to Build Relationships that Last
Recruitment is all about relationship building.
Whether trying to get buy-in for a new initiative in the workplace or convincing a candidate to take a new job, relationship building and trust are the keys to moving the needle. Of course, here at Whitman Partners, we specialize in the latter. We rely on the goodwill we have created with our clients and candidates to make placements that will be a “love match.”
How exactly do we achieve that? Long-time client partner Jim Carver and portfolio manager Emily Culp break down what recruiting perioperative leaders is like using the “Whitman style.”
What areas of your job are you most passionate about?
Jim Carver: Helping candidates grow their careers. It thrills me to see people who may not have thought they were ready for the next step to take the next step and flourish. That is super fun. I also enjoy helping client hospitals fill these critical roles with the right fit. Not just with work experience, but a personality fit where it’s somebody who is going to be coming into their family. So helping them find a new member to join their family is very satisfying.
I also enjoy helping client hospitals fill these critical roles with the right fit.Jim Carver
Emily Culp: The relationships we build with our candidates. For example, one of my recent candidates called me a lot, and it felt good to be the person to gently push her through this process and reassure her that this was the right move. That this will be the best thing for her career. Candidates feel comfortable enough to come to us and say, “I’m terrified. Can you help me prep for the interview?” Or, “I’m scared about this move. I don’t know how to talk to my loved ones about this.” That just shows the kind of connections we create here at Whitman. We’re not just filling positions with warm bodies.
How do you help a client see the value in a candidate?
Jim: I like when the client shares more than just what is in the job description. The qualities they are looking for in a person and then working to find that perfect fit. Whether it’s aspirational, educational, or work background. I like that we’re working together, pulling in the same direction, like tug of war. That is very satisfying to me.
Emily: We know what candidates are looking for. We know their worth. I like fighting for more compensation or a better relocation package. The clients see the worth in these candidates. It’s also fun to see client partners go above and beyond in meetings, explaining to the client that a candidate deserves more. They get someone to meet their salary range, but you’ll lose out on the best candidate. We’re making sure we get the best deal possible for everyone.
We know what candidates are looking for. We know their worth.Emily Culp
What is your recruiting style?
Emily: I build relationships and listen when speaking with new candidates. I hear their concerns but try to expand their perspective on changing jobs or being open to opportunities. A lot depends on the candidate. You know they have been dying to go to Florida because that’s where their grandkids are. Or their children are in college in a particular state. When you have those long-term relationships, it’s pretty easy when you have jobs in the middle of Nebraska and don’t have anyone off the top of your head. Then some have the experience, but they’ve hit the ceiling in their current job, and there is nowhere to move up. That’s where we come in. It’s a matter of convincing them that a move to a new facility will be worth it.
Jim: My recruiting style is consultative. I don’t look at this as a transactional business. I look at this as a relationship business and whether this job is for you or not as a candidate. I’m here to help you along your career path. With a client, if you know mentoring someone up is the answer internally, rather than hiring us for a search, we’ve got a service for that. It’s more about enduring relationships and helping solve problems than anything transactional. That’s how I look at my role.
What is one challenge that you’ve solved or successfully managed?
Jim: I had a candidate who had an enormous fear of change. She’d been at her current facility for over 20 years. The reality of moving to a new facility was very scary. Where are you going to have lunch? Who are you going to be friends with? If it’s a new city, where will I go grocery shopping? Those are real fears. So I had to be a bit of a therapist. That helped get this candidate over the hump to feel comfortable with their new and fantastic role. It took all of my skills on that one. There is a lot of EQ involved in our job where we need to empathize with the candidate’s needs, feelings, and emotions. It’s not binary. It may be a placement for us, but this is a person’s life and career.
Emily: One in Hawaii took me almost a year to get finalized. It was a big jump. Hawaii is a very remote location. A couple of candidates came through the funnel, said they were accepting it, and then changed their minds. We had to restart the search. When starting this job, I think one of the bigger learning curves was learning the balance of who to push and give tough love to and who just needs you to hear them. But if I had done that with this candidate, she would have run for the hills. She needed someone to listen and reassure her. She even asked me at one point what I would do. I have to know when to say enough and give her an answer without telling her what to do. They just want to call and talk it through. They can’t talk to their work friends and sometimes can’t talk to their spouses. When they take the job, I tell them they can still call me, that I won’t disappear. Let me know when you have challenges.
What does it feel like when you think you’ve got a slam dunk placement, and the candidate backs out?
Emily: When it’s the perfect placement, the perfect candidate, and the client is over the moon, then the candidate blindsides you with that? It hurts. But if we’re getting them $170,000 and their facility counter offers them $300,000, you can’t say no to that, can you? It’s tough, but there’s always someone else that was a close second or we didn’t see the first time around. Sometimes, these things happen for a reason. Maybe we were so excited that we missed some signals from the candidate. There are clues right in front of us throughout the process that say, “I’m probably going to switch up on you.”
Jim: It’s essential not to take it personally. It can feel personal because this is what we do for a living. But you absolutely can’t take it personally. You wish people well and tell them you’ll be there the next time they’re looking for a change. If you have good, fully transparent communication with your client, it’s usually fine. They understand too. It happens to them as well.
What aspects of your job do you feel people would be most surprised about?
Jim: The amount of listening we do with candidates and clients would surprise people. You have two ears and one mouth, so you need to listen twice as much as you talk. When you’re in sales or service, you tend to want to talk, tell people what you do, explain your process, and get them pumped up about opportunities. But really, you have to listen. What are the candidates’ career aspirations? What don’t they like about their current job? What’s going on with their family and home life also comes up a lot. We do a needs assessment with clients, and these leaders will share the health and well-being of their facility, warts and all. So listening is paramount because they’re telling you a story within a story. You have to read between the lines.
The amount of listening we do with candidates and clients would surprise people. You have two ears and one mouth, so you need to listen twice as much as you talk….listening is paramount because they’re telling you a story within a story. You have to read between the lines.Jim Carver
Emily: I think people would be shocked about how we do things. When people hear the word recruiter, they think of precisely what we don’t do: throwing 20 candidates at the client that meet the basic qualifications and education requirements. That is the stereotype. What we do differently is go in-depth with a needs assessment for the client and do vigorous internal vetting with candidates to see if they are qualified based on the standards set by the client. We’ll have five candidates that hit every single thing they want beyond the basic requirements. They’ll have a hard choice to make at the end for who they want to give an offer. So, I don’t use the word “recruiter.” I say that I’m a portfolio manager at a niche company.
Jim Carver is a seasoned recruiter with years of knowledge and experience. If you want Jim to help land your next great talent for your facility, contact Jim at 503-880-2024. Emily Culp is a passionate portfolio manager, determined to place the right candidate at the right facility. If you are looking for a change in career, contact Emily at 321-213-8336.