Convince – To cause someone to believe firmly in the truth of something.
Persuade – To cause someone to do something through reasoning or argument.
So, are you persuading or convincing candidates to take a position with your organization?
I think the majority of us try and convince candidates that our job, our organization is the best decision for them. We have this belief, wrongly, that we don’t want candidates who don’t want us. So, we shouldn’t ‘push’ them to take our job. We’ll try and convince them we are a good choice, but ultimately the candidate needs to make that decision. We do this because its the easiest on us, as Talent and HR Pros, not because it’s the best way. It’s the most non-confrontational way to offer up our jobs. We all like non-confrontational.
Persuasion involves a bit more. The Talent and HR Pro who can persuade candidates to come with them, is much more valuable to their organization. Persuasion might make you challenge a candidates beliefs, and get them to think about their career, their life, in a new way. Ultimately, they still might make the choice not to go with you, but you want to make that decision very, very difficult on them. They should agonize in saying ‘No’ to you.
Persuasion causes a Talent or HR Pros to become a sales person, a marketer. To persuade means to get a person to ‘do’ something, not believe something. I don’t want a candidate to believe my job is the best, but decide not to take it anyway. I want her to take it! To do it! Most people ‘believe’ that smoking is bad for them, as they put a cancer stick in their mouth and light it up. Very few stop smoking. Believing and doing are two very different things.
With candidates, persuasion can become an organizational dynamic, especially in hard to fill roles. You have to have everyone on board the persuasion bandwagon! From the hiring manager to executives to the admins who might speak to this candidate only to set up an interview time. Everyone has to be ready, at all times, to close the candidate. A number of years ago I was offered a role, that I turned down, and the Chief People Officer of that organization called my on Christmas Eve Day to try and change my mind. He made it very hard for me to turn down the role. He was very persuasive, to the point that I felt like I could be making a bad career decision to not take it.
We are coming into a time in our history where persuading, versus convincing, candidates to come work for you, will become a strategic advantage (it actually always has been an advantage, but this becomes more important as great talent is hard to find). It should no longer be alright to allow candidates to just make the decision if they like you or not, and you just sit back and wait for that decision. Your organization needs you to turn up the heat, in a positive way, to get candidates to take your jobs. Persuasion appeals to emotions and fear and creativity. People make emotional decisions when changing jobs, not rationale. Are you feeding them documents and spreadsheets, or stories or glory?
Have I convinced you to change?