“Whats Your Talent? What’s Your Skill?”

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May 24, 2011

The mind of a parent of children under the age of 4 is quite a study of the subconscious mind. About once or twice every day I involuntarily begin singing the theme song to “The Wonder Pets.” Lately, my lameness has reached a new summit as I can identify every Care Bear not just by their belly badge, but by the sound of the their voice (this is unfortunate collateral damage from owning a vehicle with a DVD player in it). Yes, I have lost any bit of “cool” I ever once had.

My wife and I have found the Noggin Channel to be a tremendous resource for our two little girls, and it’s true that these shows invade your mind — even if you try not to let them. The other day I was taking in a thrilling episode of “Yo Gabba Gabba!,” which is the show that has a skinny DJ in a skin-tight jump suit who carries around a briefcase with three monster-like puppets inside. The puppets come to life, tell stories, sing songs, and dance around. In this particular episode, the little monsters took turns asking each other “What’s your talent, what’s your skill?” They each found something unique to them that they did exceptionally well. Of course, this got me thinking. What’s my talent? What’s my skill? 

I was at a seminar a few weeks ago and Doug Rath, Co-Founder of Talent Plus, Inc. said that Talent is defined as a natural ability, one that cannot be taught. He said that talent is different from skill, which can be enhanced through training. Reflecting on this, and my “Yo Gabba Gabba” interlude, I started to wonder about a much bigger question. What are the talents that recruiters must have to be elite? Here are the top five I came up with and why I think they are so important:

5. Total Recall – Whenever I meet with candidates we are trying to hire as recruiters, I am inevitably asked some form of, “What does it take to be successful as a recruiter?” It’s a tough question for me to answer. There are hundreds of different things you can point to. I always come back to having a total recall memory. So much about our job is connecting the dots quickly. You meet and get to know your candidates and clients well enough that you can write a play and they are your main character. You know everything about them and can predict their behavior. So, when a job or client need starts to pop, you instantly know which of your top candidates to set up for sendout. When you know these key players inside and out, the play will write itself, hopefully with a happy ending.

4. Sense of Humor – There is no tool better than a sense of humor in developing strong relationships. This is true in any walk of life, but especially in sales. In the end, results will make you what you are as a recruiter, and will be what your clients think of you. But in a competitive marketplace, people want to work with people they like and enjoy. Even the most hard-core, introverted, and intense hiring managers I work with enjoy it when I can get them out of their grind for a few minutes. I don’t claim to be great at spinning yarns, but every single Big Biller I have ever worked with has this gift. They are each people that you just want to be around. The likability factor and a sense of humor are forever linked and are key talents in aiding in the development of high level, trusting relationships.

3. Articulate Speaker – You must have the confidence to stand up in a boardroom and command some presence if you are going to be a great recruiter. You have to have the ability to pick up the phone and call a CEO you have never talked to and convince them you have something they need. The ability to persuade and craft an argument or pitch is all tied back to how articulate of a speaker you are. Your message must be identifiable and easy to understand. This does not mean you must have an Einstein-like intellect. You just need to be able to articulate your thoughts in a clear and efficient manner.

2. Listening – This seems rather formulaic and obvious, but you cannot underscore enough the power of listening in any business or relationship development process.  Here’s a question.  Have you ever been talking to someone, and it seemed as if they were not listening to you at all, and just thinking of what to say next?  That is the definition of a one sided conversation.  The talent and ability to truly listen and comprehend what your counterpart is saying is immeasurable, and helps satisfy one of the most basic human emotional needs to feel understood. Listening is hard and requires great patience and discipline, but also selflessness. The payoff is huge in our business, however, because your clients will like you more than the other guy if they believe you care about them. Listening and understanding the needs of your client will prove to them that you do actually care.

1. Caring – Being a recruiter is an awesome responsibility. You just can’t diminish the powerful role you play in shaping the lives of your candidates and clients alike. You make dreams happen and pain go away. You make companies stronger and economies better. You can do all of this caring about many things, but truly caring about the people you work with, sell to, and place is the most powerful. Chasing money is a hunt that will always outdistance you.

These are my top five. What are yours? Feel free to share them because everyone is different. One thing is universally true, though: identify what you do best, and soar with those strengths. And if you run into difficulty, just tune into Noggin to gain some simple perspective.

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