Recruiters are the frontline in the hunt for great talent. Their ability to do their job well can determine if industry-changing candidate-job matches are made. “The impact of a recruiter is twofold: first, you can literally change the life of an individual by placing them in their dream job, and second, you can effectively change the direction and the success of a corporation with a single great hire in a key job (i.e. recruiting LeBron to your NBA team)” says Dr. John Sullivan, CEO of DJS.For such a key role, it’s important to have the best recruiters representing your company. Here are the skills that set great recruiters apart from the rest.
What Makes a Great Recruiter
1. Strong sales skills.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again. Recruiting is sales. “Not only do recruiters need to sell their clients (internal or external), but they need to sell candidates on opportunities and be able to articulate why company X is an employer of choice and why a particular opportunity is not just a great opportunity, but how it is the opportunity of a lifetime” says Morgan Hoogvelt, managing partner of MorganHCM. Especially in today’s jobseeker’s market, it is more helpful to think of recruiting as a sales position than a traditional HR position.
This isn’t just theoretical. “Success [as a recruiter] requires abilities that are not necessarily the strengths of those who choose traditional human resources as a career” says Kevin Wheeler, founder and chairman of the Future of Talent Institute. “I have found that many of the most successful recruiters had no intention of working for or in HR. They were interested in sales, marketing, communications, or similar areas and found themselves accidently being asked to do recruiting.”
Recruiters that come from sales backgrounds have an upperhand over those who come from other areas within talent management. Recruiting is a sales function of an organization and, by providing the employees who will lead the organization to success, is an integral part of fulfilling long-term strategy and goals.
2. Ability to build relationships.
Recruiting is a people-driven industry and there is no room for the antisocial or withdrawn. “Every great recruiter has a need to be around and with people” says Wheeler. “They like to meet new people and seek out opportunities to do that even when they are not recruiting.” Liking to socialize on a superficial level isn’t enough, however.
Good recruiters like to mingle, great recruiters like to develop and nurture real connections. “While some recruiters attempt to connect with as many people as possible on a shallow level to build a vast network, it’s the deep connections that allow successful recruiters to bring together candidates and clients who are well suited for one another” says Tony Sorenson, CEO of Versique Search and Consulting and McKinley Consulting. “Your reputation as a recruiter and your business will be much better off by building genuine relationships and maintaining them over time.”
The benefits of building genuine relationships are multifold, not only in engaging candidates, but also in improving their interview experience, making them more comfortable asking critical questions during the process, and thereby both making them more likely to receive an offer and more likely to accept that offer. “By creating a more open, friendly, and communicative relationship with candidates, the candidate experience will increase, making the recruiter and company stand out professionally and as an employer of choice” says Hoogvelt. Great recruiters don’t just collect contacts, they make friends.
3. Strong follow-up skills.
Part of developing real relationships is communicating, showing respect, and empathizing with candidates. “I have heard all the horror stories of a recruiter (agency or corporate alike) calling someone frantically, building them up and setting them up to interview, only to never reach back out to the candidate again” says Hoogvelt. “All that does is breed negativity and it is not part of the relationship-building process whatsoever.”
When a great recruiter reaches out to a candidate about a potential position, that conversation isn’t peppered with long intervals of no communication. Even if it’s just an update that the hiring manager is still looking over candidates, but they’re still being considered, taking a few minutes to keep the candidate clued in shows respect and promotes a good relationship. At Happie, we automate the nurture process so that the ball never drops.
4. Big picture thinking.
Recruiting is the marriage of sales and matchmaking. Great recruiters are not only able to sell candidates on employers and sell employers on the value they add, but are also able to identify unconventional matches and opportunities where others may not be able to see them.
“Simply focusing on single searches each day is great, but having the ability to see how candidates can fit into an organization, the potential value they can bring, or even knowing where a superstar candidate could fit in, even if there is no immediate position available, is invaluable” says Hoogvelt. Being able to see the big picture allows recruiters to make long-term, value-adding matches.
5. Excellent listening skills.
Listening skills are important everywhere in business, but especially in recruiting. Recruiters need to be able to understand what a hiring manager is looking for, even when the hiring manager may not be able to articulate that completely clearly. “If you don’t listen then you can’t deliver, and if you can’t deliver then you offer no value” says Cody Voellinger, CEO of RockIT Recruiting.
Further, recruiters need to be able to listen to candidates and identify which ones are a match in soft measures, like culture and attitude. “They [great recruiters] know how to steer the right candidates to the right managers because they have deep knowledge of the needs and capabilities of each.” says Wheeler.
Great listening skills also improve recruiters’ chances of landing top talent for an employer. “If you are targeting a particular candidate because the firm you represent needs their talent, then chances are that candidate is getting swamped with calls from agencies, corporate recruiters, etc.” says Justin McWhorter, manager of sales recruiting at Workday. “The person who listens and responds accordingly will get their attention, and most likely, their resume.”
6. Ability and willingness to leverage technology.
Technology is becoming an ever greater parter of our world and those who don’t ride the wave are being left behind. Recruiting technology allows recruiters “to maximize candidate quality and personal productivity” says Lou Adler, CEO of The Adler Group. From ATSs to sourcing software, great recruiters understand how to use technology to improve their strategy.
Beyond using software and applications specific to recruiting, great recruiters know how to take advantage of how technology has made today’s world hyper-connected and people’s personalities publicly accessible. “Searching Google is a common practice for successful recruiters” says Farhan Farooqui, president and CEO of HR Milieu. “Being able to see the Tweets, Facebook posts and LinkedIn presence of the candidate is becoming a necessity. Many times what the resume says is quite different from what the same candidate said on LinkedIn or another social media site. Remember, not everyone has their tweets protected.”
7. Impeccable organizational skills.
With so many to keep track of, recruiters need to be highly organized in order to ascertain that top candidates don’t fall through the cracks. A great recruiter “pays attention to the details” says Voellinger. “All of them.” From ATSs to online calendars to recruiting technology with helpful user interfaces to organize all the critical information, like we offer at Happie, a great recruiter takes advantage of all the tools in their arsenal.