Debunking Recruiting Secrets: Become a Master of Talent

This week I continue with debunking recruiter secrets, which we've already determined, aren't really secrets at all. To catch up on the series, start with the first post here. Last week, I debunked the secret to great client relationships. This week I want to talk about how you identify, qualify, and maintain contact with a database of exceptional talent, or simply put how you become a master of talent.

Becoming a master of talent is no easy task, friends. It takes hard work, due diligence, and a lot of discipline. Let's break this up into three areas:

Identifying Top Talent

The first thing I learned as a recruiter was how to source candidates. You have to gather names, you have to get past gate-keepers, you have to have no fear when it comes to cold-calling in to where they work. Chances are you learned about all of these your first week as a recruiter. Sourcing is only the first step. You can identify a ton of candidates and only find five that really have talent, right? So next, you'll need to qualify.

Qualify Talent

Let me first say that there is a difference between being a qualified candidate and being qualified talent. Don't confuse the two. Just because you have identified someone that meets the job order's basic qualifications does not mean you have found talent. Sorry. I wish it were that easy. While a candidate may technically "qualify" for a position,  are you willing to put your name and reputation behind this individual? Anyone can produce resumes that qualify for a position, but a great recruiter knows real talent, and they know how to manage that talent for a client. How do you know you have marketable talent?

There are 2 main things that I use to qualify my candidates:


When it comes to selling a candidate, I still create a "FAB" chart. Features, Achievements, Benefits. Features are the things they have to have, degrees, experience, etc. Achievements the things that will differentiate them from the crowd. Awards, examples of revenue generation, or cost savings. Finally, the big "B". The benefits. How can all the features and achievements this individual has benefit your client? The A and the B are what will separate a great recruiter's candidates. If I have a strong FAB chart for a client, I can probably sell them. If I can add in items that are a "plus" like good cultural fit, action-oriented, confidence, integrity, leadership qualities, intelligence, or born communicator, I know I have real talent.

Maintain Candidate Contact

The second qualifier, "Can I sell this candidate on a better opportunity?" is also our 3rd objective in identifying if we have the kind of talent that a great recruiter works with.

Let's face it, no matter how qualified the candidate is, if they are not willing to work with a recruiter to explore a more exciting opportunity they are just not worth your time. You have to be able to produce your product after all. Nothing is worse than selling your client on an incredible, talented, candidate that you cannot produce for an interview! That will do nothing for maintaining your relationship with the client and will frustrate you both.

You must ensure this person is willing to explore opportunities up front. Look at these type of things: Do they call you back? Do they express pain of any kind in their current role? Are they looking for more responsibility than is available in their current position? Do they call you back? Are they motivated by more money? Do they want to relocate? Do they call you back?

You get the idea. They must be willing to maintain a relationship with you. If they aren't, you cannot depend on this person to drop what they are doing and go meet one of your clients. Being able to present talent that WILL, differentiates the mediocre recruiter from a great one. To keep great relationships with your candidates, take a look back at last week's post about maintaining client relationships. The same skills apply. Only present them with opportunities they will care about, don't lie, consistently show them great opportunities, and be a partner not a peon.

Amy McDonald works in an executive role with several employment websites including 

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