The Skills a Recruiter Should Have — Part 2

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Jan 30, 2017
This article is part of a series called How-Tos.

It’s great to see that an article I wrote a ways back continues to be a hit within the ERE community: 8 Skills Recruiters Should Have. Due to its popularity, but more importantly to help recruiters perform better and to help recruiting leaders identify top recruitment talent, I decided to write part two.

Before we take off to the recruiting races here in 2017, there is one thing I would like each of you to do … and that is, grab or download a copy of the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. Not only is this one of the best books I have ever read, but everything that Mr. Collins shares in this book is based on real-life successes and failures of several of the largest, well-known companies in the world. However, for today, the one take away that I would like to focus on from this particular book is the concept of Chapter 3: First Who, Then What … or as I like to refer to it — get the right people on the bus.

If you’re a talent acquisition Leader, the success of your department stems from having the right people on your talent acquisition bus. Maybe you’ve been struggling with how to pinpoint the exact shortfalls on your team,or maybe you need some training topics to focus on during your next team call. If you are a recruiter looking to step up production or seeking self-improvement, read through this list of skills and see where you can make adjustments to take your performance to the next level. So without further ado, here are an additional eight skills that all recruiters should have:

Customer-service Oriented — we don’t sell a tangible product such as shoes or groceries, so it’s not surprising that sometimes recruiters forget that we are salespeople. We sell a service and we have clients. Clients aren’t just your hiring managers or your prospective candidates.

For you internal corporate types, you more than likely sit in some type of shared service or center of excellence model. This means you are here to serve the business and help them succeed. Not only is “the business” your client, but your HR business partners, fellow recruiters, recruiting coordinators, and other various HR constituents are your clients too — remember that. Therefore, respond to emails promptly, return calls promptly, keep your clients updated regularly, go above and beyond and strive to provide the highest level of customer service to your clients each day.

High Sense of Urgency  when I meet with business leaders to discuss new job orders, in 100 percent of my conversations they tell me that they want the incoming person to possess a high sense of urgency; shouldn’t recruiters possess this same sense of urgency? Time after time I have received acknowledgements like the following:

  1. “Wow … thanks for actually returning my call…”
  2. “That was the quickest returned email I have ever received from a recruiter …”
  3. “You were able to put an offer letter together in an hour; I’ve never seen that before …”
  4. “You were able to process this hire for me in one day, wow …”

While I am truly grateful for compliments such as these; I shake my head and chuckle a bit because these type of actions are a simple part of our jobs as recruiters and a basic service that all clients deserve. I’m not saying you have to immediately drop what you’re doing and jump through hoops. I am simply advising you to act with a high sense of urgency, know what needs to be prioritized, and then execute and deliver a great end product. And remember: time kills all deals.

Communication  keep your clients, hiring managers, and candidates in the loop at all times. Your hiring manager has a hundred other things going on in addition to working with you to fill their open position. They are down a person, and this means short staff, more work for the team, more hours on the job … all while the demands of the business never stop. Weekly check-ins and an end-of-week recap via email are easy ways to keep them in the loop. Your HR business partners will also thank you for keeping them abreast of rising issues. No one likes to be blindsided. Keeping them informed will allow them to support you and their business leader by managing expectations early on.

And let’s not forget your candidate, who is on pins and needles hoping they hear back from you. Any news is always welcomed. Don’t go days, weeks, and even months without sending an email or making a tw0-minute call. Candidates always appreciate communication and it will help you monitor changes in their situation. How terrible would it be to finally get the offer approved three weeks late only to call your candidate and find out they accepted an offer two weeks prior?

Over Communication — even when you think you have communicated enough, think about it some more and make sure you over communicate if needed. Communication is key in recruiting. If you don’t buy into this, you may be on the wrong career path.

Resourceful  a strong, knowledgeable, and professional recruiter is resourceful. And while resourceful can be defined in many different areas; I am defining resourceful here as the understanding of how a company operates and where one needs to go to in order to get information and guidance in order to facilitate business decisions.

Professionals in departments such as compensation, procurement, legal, HRIS, HR, and accounting/finance, to name a few, can offer a wealth of information. Too many times have I witnessed a hold up in the process because a recruiter doesn’t know where to go or who to ask for guidance or support. A resourceful recruiter should be able to navigate the halls of a company and understand the offerings of all the many departments and who can provide them guidance and information in order to keep the flow of business moving fast.

Solution Oriented — most recruiters have a strong ability to identify problems and potential road blocks. But rather than just identifying a problem; attempt to bring forward a potential solution to your boss or peer group. It doesn’t matter whether your solution is right or wrong or whether it ends up being implemented; what matters is that you went the extra mile to consider possible solutions. The sooner one can become a solutions-oriented recruiting professional; the greater the impact and value you will add to your organization.

Detail Oriented — too many times I have questioned recruiters on a candidate’s profile and they can’t tell me simple details like salary requirements, relocation preference, reasons for moves, etc. It’s easy to be lazy or act with too much haste that you bypass the most important details and in this business, the devil is in the details. Interview times, phone numbers to call, directions and office locations, the spelling of people’s names, time zones, compensation, motivations, etc. all should be locked down tight.

If you find yourself missing details or bypassing information in order to move a candidate along quickly, first, slow down and second, use some type of prompter or checklist to ensure you are asking for and documenting all the required details. There are some talented recruiters in this world and if your competition is doing things better than you … your competition will win.

Self Awareness — is defined as having a clear perception of your personality to include your strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivations, and emotions. Self awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude, and your responses to them in the moment (from

If you can master having good self-awareness, it will not only help you with your day to day operations, but it is also an essential part of succeeding and moving up in corporate America. There are some individuals who truly have no idea how they behave and communicate and how they are perceived by others. But those who can recognize the importance of perception and how it plays a huge part of corporate life and professionalism will undoubtedly be successful.

For talent acquisition leaders, be rigorous with your selection process, see the good and positive in all people, but don’t dismiss the signs I have listed above while you seek out the skills in your next hire. For recruiters, it’s time for some self-reflection. Ask yourself, “Am I the right person on the bus”? If you are seeking self-improvement, perhaps there is one takeaway above that you can implement immediately into your personal portfolio of skills.

This article is part of a series called How-Tos.
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