The Difference Between a Regular Recruiter and a Rock Star

Jun 20, 2012

From working with recruiters for more than 20 years, I‘ve observed many styles and variations in their recruiting work habits. Some are hunters, some are farmers, and yes, some are clueless. But they all have the same goal: to make hires. I’ve seen some good practices that have been made apparent to me over the years.

Great recruiters don’t just automate the hiring process. They delve into it to find perfect candidates. And they are creative.

Suppose they are recruiting for an “application security analyst.” They search for the industry-related organizations or job certification-related organizations for the position, such as OWASP and CISM, and then search resume databases, LinkedIn, and ATS’s for places it is cited.

Amazing recruiters leave no stone unturned. When they search for a candidate and receive 100 resumes, they review every single resume, even after the position has been filled. That’s because an amazing recruiter knows that these resumes can be used for other positions.

Rock star recruiters learn to partner with their hiring managers and understand their business. They pick up on the lingo, talk the talk, and eventually sound like experts in the field. When they hire, let’s say, a journalist, candidates should believe the recruiter is a former journalist. When they hire an engineer, they should understand the skillset and computer applications needed. It’s that depth of information that should be acquired.

Extraordinary recruiters also learn about their company’s competitors … who are they? What are their environments like? What is their status? Who’s on their staff? And they know how to find them.

Top-of-the-line recruiters keep conversation flowing at all times with their company’s managers, keeping them apprised of the status of their recruiting. It sounds easy, but many managers don’t ever receive an update until a hire is completed.

Recruiting mavens also learn to mentor, coach, and train their own junior staff. Letting your secrets out may go against normal thoughts of self-preservation, but the fact is, you should always spread the wealth. We all know what they say about how you treat people as you go up the ladder: they’ll probably be your boss in 10 years, so make sure you show them respect and share your experience and knowledge.

Great recruiters know that technology is their friend, and they develop and adapt HR tools for maximum usage (ATS, databases). They are also expert at setting up organizational systems to categorize and retrieve resumes. Use your technology!

Most importantly, kindness counts. Great recruiters send a custom reply from a template to everyone who replies from unsolicited direct sourcing contacts. They also try to make sure they exemplify and exude the corporate brand at every level of engagement.

Lastly, rock star recruiters truly engage candidates and elicit information; they know how to bond. They even take the time to distribute good resumes even when there are no current openings. Although I’ve met hundreds of recruiters over the years, there are only the few who constitute the “cream of the crop” and practice these principles  One is my recruiter friend Howard Horder, a true rock star who helped contribute to this post. Once the economy turns around, these few rock stars will be legends.

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