Over the past few weeks I have asked many people both inside and outside of recruiting what it takes, in their eyes, to be an exceptional recruiter. As the title suggests, it is very pompous but it did promise great content (WHICH I WROTE NONE OF) – so here you go:
Those inside of recruiting:
Olivier J. Van Dierdonck, Director of Recruitment, Southwind, a Division of the Advisory Board
- Ability to connect with candidates and clients
- Credibility (industry knowledge and honesty)
- Solid ability to assess skill sets
- Trusted advisor
- Attentive to details
Marty Lovgren, Talent Acquisition Manager, Gresham, Smith and Partners
- Responsive; Must respond in a timely and professional manner to candidate and client alike
- Provide true staffing/business consulting skills to the client, must understand the client’s needs and business intimately
- On the third-party side, recruiters must immerse themselves into their client’s organization/culture to better understand their needs
- Must possess excellent active listening skills
- Must demonstrate tenacity in pursuit of the best talent
- Exhibit salesmanship, people skills, and powers of persuasion in negotiations
- Must always follow through with commitments
Robert Kane, Director, HR and Talent Acquisitions , Community Health Systems
When I first started at CHS, I asked all of my hiring my primary hiring managers (mostly Division VPs and Presidents) what they needed most from my position. The most common response was “communication”.
Ninety percent of my searches were hospital executives and the average fill time was sixty to ninety days. I instituted a weekly update process that has consistently received positive feedback. Most weeks it is simply an update on my efforts without a viable candidate to share but this keeps everyone on the same page.
I see communication as one of the building blocks for successfully managing the hiring manager side.
On the candidate/sourcing side, the ability to build relationships with potential candidates and knowing the details of the position in question are key. I always recommend focusing on a match. The right candidate has to fit with the right opportunity.
The worst case scenario for a recruiter is for the candidate to have false expectations and end up unhappy three months into the job. This means talking with a lot of potentials until a viable match is found. There have been a number of occurrences where we hire someone we’ve been speaking to for three years or more.
A truly great recruiter will know the intimate details of the position and culture. This will allow not only for deciding who has the skill set to be successful in the role but also for clear communication of a realistic job preview.
Tam Singer, Corporate Recruiter, OHL
Top four attributes of the best recruiters
- Confidence: Recruiter listens and learns what the hiring manager needs and what they are really saying
- Drive: Recruiter fills the position in the quickest time in the most direct way
- Network: Recruiter has large network of candidates to go to in any given situation
- Trust: Their reputation is that they will get the position filled because they have consistent proven results
Lindsay Dycus, Recruiter, Shoemaker Financial
I think the main thing that puts a recruiter a cut above the rest is working knowledge of the position you are hiring for. I was fortunate enough to have gotten the licenses required to do the positions I recruit for and also work in a similar firm before I became a recruiter.
This knowledge allows me to give open and honest answers to candidates questions. Another thing that can separate the good from the great is the time you spend getting to know the candidate and being open and honest with them, not only about your firm, but opportunities available to them at other firms that might fit what they are looking for specifically better.
Rick Ross, Partner, NGP
I’ve hired many recruiters through the years and have found that there is a key characteristic that differentiates a good recruiter from a great recruiter.
It’s simple – I always want to understand the motivation to be a recruiter. There’s a few answers to this question but the one that best predicts ‘greatness’ in my experience is an answer that reflects service. “My goal is to help companies by finding the best possible candidates for their roles” or “I just enjoy the reward of someone getting a job that enhances their career”.Even better: “It’s almost community service . . . companies get great employees and my candidates get great jobs – that’s reward in itself”
Any other motivation (money, personal career advancement, or just to do something different) are key indicators that their real passion is outside of recruiting. Great recruiters are interested in the long-term job satisfaction of their candidates and not just making a placement.
Those outside of recruiting:
Linda Teske, a Senior HR Generalist/Consultant
In general, based on my experience, a good recruiter is one that returns the call and follows up with a candidate one way or another. They also know what job best fits the candidate and will not suggest a position that may not necessarily be the best fit. They are considering a ‘long term’ placement, not a ‘short term’ placement.
Jane Smith Stage, Training Professional
Truthful — tell me what I need to know & do in order to present myself in the very best light. If I’m not coming across as professional or not a good match for your client — give me specifics.
Responsive, even if it’s a subject-line only e-mail or voice message.
Collaborative — yes, you represent your corporate client — AND — how can we work together as well? How can I stay ‘top-of-mind’ with you (recruiter)?
John Bliven, Training Professional
As you’ve said before, job seekers need to understand how recruiters work and
establish realistic expectations when working with them.
That said, here are my thoughts about what makes a recruiter great:
- professional in all aspects of a working relationship
- don’t make promises you can’t keep (if it’s doubtful that you can schedule an interview for a candidate, say so, don’t sugarcoat anything)
- be realistic in describing the types of positions you conduct searches for (if you don’t recruit mechanical engineers) don’t say that you do
- follow through and follow-up – if you say you’re going to provide feedback on a candidate’s qualifications, do it!
Carol Oot, Client Services Professional
I’d say that a great recruiter would be someone who can evaluate my background honestly, and offer their own ideas on options that I might not have considered.
Kathryn Lewis, Non-Profit Professional
The first thing that occurs to me is a recruiter’s questions. There are plenty of “tests” out there that will tell a recruiter who you are. I believe that a recruiters ability to ask the right questions to find out who you are, your passions, your work and management styles, and be able to match you up to a career (not just a job) using their instincts is vital to the success of a career path. They change lives by guiding their clients towards that perfect match.
Their passion for their job is critical as well. The passion to make that right connection is tremendous motivation for their clients.
Anna Visnic, Electrical/Electronic Manufacturing Professional
A great recruiter knows not only what the candidate’s past experiences are, but what the candidate CAN do and is CAPABLE of doing.
Great recruiters are “personal”…up to the point where it gets really personal, because great recruiters know that successful relationship with any candidate does begin with the resume, but certainly doesn’t end with the job placement.
Tony Dye, Technology Consultant
Several quick thoughts here:
- It might be worth clarifying what type of recruiter you’re talking about. A corporate recruiter (like you) vs. a “head hunter” like Jason Childs or Mark Newsom or others. Retained vs. Contingency might also be an influence…but I’m not sure I necessarily expect a different response.
- The key thing I expect, just as a general courtesy, is a response. Even a simple acknowledgement. A “received your resume/app, you don’t fit” is so much better than never hearing anything
- Doing what you say you’ll do. Again, simple courtesy and ethics. It is absolutely 100% OK for you to not be able to do anything for me – that’s just life. But if you can’t do anything for me (or even if you won’t do anything for me), don’t say or imply that you will. Specific example: there’s a pretty well-known, high-level, guy in town who has on multiple occasions suggested we get together. Bu then he goes silent and disappears. In a manner of speaking, you have also avoided me, but you were clear about it – you didn’t just go silent. “No,” or even “not now,” is so much better a response than just disappearing
- Don’t mass distribute my resume. Actually, don’t even send it out to just one organization without letting me know first
- A really great recruiter stays in touch. That doesn’t necessarily mean a personal call or visit. A simple email once a month or so, that could even be a promotional item, but gives the “I remember you and thought about you” impression
Tammie Lang, Marketing & Advertising Professional
Someone who sends me job posts that actually MATCH my qualifications AND desired location. Not random jobs that are totally NOT a match at all for me!
I hope you have gained a few nuggets of information from those inside and outside of the recruiting world that you can implement into your daily recruiting life to rise to the top of the profession.
Until next time – good hunting and good luck!