The fundamental understanding of an impactful recruiter is that it’s a person able to”sell a company to top talents as the best place to work. Most still consider this person an outgoing, energetic, and talkative specialist whose extroverted nature works the room and convinces candidates of accepting an offer.
But the catch is that, with today’s fast-evolving technologies and information availability, job-seekers don’t require salespeople touting a company’s attractiveness. Armed with their own research, they expect a recruiter to clarify their thinking and become a trusted advisor, not a go-getter determined to fill a position. In other words, they expect candidate-focused recruitment.
The challenge for recruiters is that candidate-focused recruitment (where the talent acquisition specialist becomes a trusted advisor) tends to be more natural to introverted rather than extroverted recruiters. That’s because building trust with candidates emerges from listening and reacting, qualities that are more inherent to introverts. It does not come from talking and convincing, which are more associated with extroverts.
An extroverted industry like recruitment would therefore benefit from an introverted approach to talent acquisition.
For introverted recruiters, inherent qualities — active listening, attention to detail, and prioritization of planning — can be advantageous in a career. Brianie Tacio from the staffing agency ECA Partners says that “leaning into your introspective nature” is what can help “excel in recruiting.” She adds:
“We introverts work harder to create a connection, but it makes us more strategic in choosing communication strategies for adequately evaluating a candidate or convincing them that they should make a significant career move. We pair our natural ability as active listeners with conversational guideposts from conversational tools and embrace situational extroversion to manage effective communication with job candidates.”
In her book, Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, Susan Cain highlights the tendency of extroverts to think out loud, whereas introverts are prone to introspection, which makes them better listeners: They process what’s said, try to understand what goes through people’s mind, and think how they can best respond to it. All of which are must-have skills for a TA specialist willing to understand a candidate’s true intentions and motivation?
Sam Underwood, VP of strategy for Futurety, an analytics and communications consultancy, shares his insights on this:
“One of my core responsibilities is recruiting new talent to our small team of about 12 full-time team members. My [Myers Briggs] personality type is INTJ, with about a 97% confidence in the “I” — so I’m a proud introvert! I’ve found that my natural tendency to listen rather than speak is beneficial for recruiting. By definition, a recruiter wants a candidate to speak more than listen in most interview situations. I’m totally comfortable asking an open-ended question and letting a candidate show me their ability to think on the fly in a high-pressure situation, especially when hiring for client-facing positions. I sometimes find that I can help open up a likewise introverted candidate by showing empathy, which can come more naturally to us introverts.”
Underwood’s recruiting colleague Mike Hanski, who spends much of his time recruiting writers, agrees on the role of empathy for successful hiring:
“As an introvert communicating with other introverted people — most writers tend to have such a personality type — I use active listening and empathy to establish trust, especially with those unsure about a job offer. It’s that very moment when an extroverted hard-sell mode can do more harm than good, seeming too aggressive or manipulative to candidates.”
Paul French, recruiter at Intrinsic Search, confirms:
“My ability to empathize deeply and form solid connections with my clients has allowed me to meet their needs better. When I began my career, I saw this trait as a weakness and felt that I was investing too much in one person. With time, I realized that I could leverage my personality type to get ahead in my career, help businesses scale through the acquisition of top talent and link high-performing professionals with work opportunities that align with their career goals.”
Deeper Research, Focus, and Attention to Detail
Introverted recruiters tend to enjoy certain parts of recruiting more than their extroverted peers, like conducting research and digging into details. Alina Clark, co-founder of CocoDoc, confesses:
“I’m among those introverts who feel nervous when it’s time to talk with someone new. So I always do preliminary research to have talking points organized and feel more at ease. Deeper research of a candidate’s resume or LinkedIn profile helps me improve the quality of queries and add more questions. It’s an excellent way to ensure that you have the appropriate words prepared at the right moment.”
Eden Cheng, HR lead and founder at WeInvoice, adds:
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“Being introverted often involves dealing with a lot of personal introspection. And while that may be a bad thing sometimes, it can also aid in the recruitment process. Introverts don’t get distracted easily and can often focus on tasks for long periods. It makes the difference, especially when you have to pay a lot of attention and detail in the screening process once candidates submit their applications. For instance, it allows one to notice promising talent that could play a significant role later on, even if they don’t have the best qualifications at the time.”
This trait makes introverted recruiters excel at finding talent through channels that most of their colleagues find “low-quality” or time-consuming to research.
Self-Awareness and Reflective Nature
As highly empathetic people, introverts make deeper personal connections with individuals. According to bestselling author David Burkus, this trait can make them stronger networkers capable of building deeper relationships with candidates.
Introverts also understand other reserved people better, building communication accordingly. Miranda Yan, co-founder of VinPit, shares:
“I used to meet many introverted candidates like me. They had great potential, but we’re a little laid back. I could make them comfortable as I knew what the situation was like for them. I would suggest that my colleagues use their skills to understand candidates’ expectations and, rather than focusing on selling them the job, try to make them know how the job would be suitable for their future. You should utilize your calm nature in building trust with candidates and empathize with those who have the same personality trait as you.”
Lory Rassas, an HR consultant and author of It’s About You Too, says that many of the qualities associated with being an introvert can bring significant value to employers, explaining:
“Introverts tend to be reflective about their decisions, and this is the type of thoughtful review process that can lead them to take the extra time necessary to review candidates and identify potential red flags. And while perhaps this may extend the time for the recruiting process, this is often time well-spent due to the high costs associated with a selection mistake.”
In addition, Nate Tsang, CEO at Wall Street Zen, shares his thoughts and experience on the value introverted recruiters bring to employers:
“It’s critical to remember that, while recruiting may be seen as an extroverted job, you’re going to be hiring for positions that are often more introverted. When I tap a recruiter to hire a developer, coder, designer, or writer — all jobs that require individual focus — I’m frankly expecting them to find someone who’s more on the thoughtful side. They don’t need to wow me with a sales pitch. An introverted recruiter can be more apt to communicate with other introverts. They don’t overwhelm them with energy — they sort of speak the same language. Understanding on a sympathetic level how introverts communicate is a real plus.”
The bottom line is this: An extroverted style of recruiting — that is, aggressively selling a company’s attractiveness to do nothing but fill a position, doesn’t work. It probably never worked. It’s therefore worth embracing your introverted nature — or building skills more inherent to your introverted recruiting colleagues — for better talent acquisition. Indeed, extroverted TA specialists should aim to quiet their outgoing and talkative selves when needed and bring introverted qualities to the forefront for more efficient communication with talent.