By Jessica Miller-Merrell 

As last year came to a close and I began thinking about what 2015 had in store for me, I kept being drawn to questions that I hadn’t asked myself in many, many years. Questions about my purpose, contentment, career and what it all meant to me. What it all came down to was the meaning I derived from all these aspects in my life and how I arrived at feeling like what I did was still enjoyable and meaningful. These questions also made me think beyond myself and consider what place meaning has in a recruiter’s world.
I believe most recruiters do what they do because they love it, but when was the last time you considered whether or not your work was meaningful? It’s not a question that comes up at most happy hours or conferences, but it’s an important one. It’s easy to forget about but can make such a big impact.
What is meaning?
In this setting, meaning is the significance and importance we feel about the work we do, what we feel that we achieve and how satisfied we are knowing that. It answers the question of what our purpose is and the end result we hope to achieve. Meaning is what you or your organization (Yes, organizations should be doing meaningful work!) stand for when no one is watching. It’s what drives us, motivates and elevates us to be ourselves, think creatively and see opportunity. On a basic level, meaning is what draws others to us and makes them want to know us and attracts candidates to an organization.
Understanding meaning starts with understanding who you are, either as an individual or as an organization. What are your values, priorities and goals? How do you want others to feel after interacting with you or at the end of the hiring process, and how do you want to feel at the end of the day? These are the questions that force you to evaluate what kind of meaning you want your work to have, even if you’re not quite there yet. In contrast, answer those questions in present tense, such as how do I currently feel at the end of the day and what values am I exercising in my work?
The how of meaningful recruiting
If the answers to the questions of what your work is like in present day differ from what you want it to be, your work might not be as meaningful as you’d like. The only way to change that is one step at a time, one day at a time and one hire at a time. Meaning happens when you do the work and ask the hard questions of your hiring managers, teammates and senior leaders. It becomes meaningful when you build a story around those important and distinctive features and benefits that make your organization or team worth talking about.
Often times, we don’t make the distinction between being intentional in our work and setting ourselves on auto pilot. Truly meaningful recruiting is made up of a series of intentional actions. It’s achieved through a number of decisions that we are engaged in and that add up to a candidate feeling positive about their experience with you, and you going home at the end of the day satisfied.  

Lastly, meaning is what pushes us to accomplish our dreams, goals or targets. By stopping and asking yourself what, why and how you’re doing, you can become the recruiter you’ve always wanted to be. You can be that person that doesn’t dread work and isn’t short with candidates but instead are excited, filled with passion and find joy in what you do.

Jessica Miller-Merrell, SPHR is a workplace and technology strategist specializing in social media. She’s the Chief Blogger and Founder of Blogging4Jobs. You can follow her on Twitter at @jmillermerell.

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