What Makes a Great Corporate Recruiter?

Exactly what personality, competencies, and experiences make a great corporate recruiter? No one person could possibly exhibit all of the qualities on this list. Each of us will exhibit some of the qualities but not all of them. The opportunity is to notice the areas where you excel and those areas where you could develop yourself.

Before we dive into the list, a quick word on the major sources of this information: I posted questions on LinkedIn, RecruitingBlogs.com, and ere.net. Follow the links for the great and varied responses from many of our colleagues.

And now, the list:

Customer service mentality-however you care to look at it, it's undeniable that we're in the customer service business. We have two groups of customers: our hiring managers and our candidates. Ideally we'd all keep everyone happy all of the time. That may not be possible but having a strong customer service mentality will go a long way to achieving that.

Compelled to provide an outstanding candidate and hiring manager experience-this is really more about customer service mentality but it's good to look at it from the perspective of the experience that others have.

Excellent organizational skills-corporate recruiters are responsible for a lot. When you consider the hundreds of resumes we review each week, the countless emails we read, the interviews, the meetings, and inevitable interruptions, it's a wonder we're as productive as we are. The only way we can be this productive is to have excellent organizational skills. Otherwise things will continually drop through the cracks, will take too long, and our customers won't be happy.

Strong administrative skills-our work must be accurate, complete, detailed, and prompt. We must understand that everything flows from the paperwork we generate while we're hiring a candidate. We may be audited by the OFCCP, EEOC or some other organization. Will your files be the ones that cause your company to pay a huge fine? Are you creating messes for others to clean up?

Great at working with people-we're in the people business. We must love working with people and look forward to each and every interaction.

Exceptional at assessing people-we're not just processing stuff here. One of the things that exceptional recruiters have is the ability to truly assess a candidate's abilities and to know what a candidate will do when we extend an offer.

Good listening and interviewing skills-are we talking most of the time or listening? Truly great recruiters listen far more than they talk but when they talk they have something truly valuable to say because it's based on what they hear. This is equally important when working with candidates, hiring managers, and team mates.

Perceptive-being perceptive is a key part of assessing people. Have you ever had a candidate tell you one thing and do the complete opposite? The more perceptive you are the better you'll be at telling when someone is just blowing smoke.

Inquisitive-it's difficult to be a great sourcer if you aren't inquisitive. Digging through databases, running different searches, puzzling over possible places the ideal candidates may be hanging out are all things that light up an inquisitive person.

Works smart-there's a lot to do. Are you doing the most important work first or are you doing busy work and pretending that you're working hard?

Time management skills-do you have a plan to get done what needs to get done by when it needs to be done? If not you're just flapping in the wind.

Business oriented-we must satisfy the needs of the business. We're not a charity here and we exist, in part, to make a profit. Understand that unfilled, key positions are costing the company money.

More extraverted than introverted-we recruiters tend to be outgoing people. We have a thirst for human contact and we're natural networkers. It's difficult for us to stay holed up in our offices for days at a time.

Technically savvy-to be truly efficient we need to be expert users of all the available recruitment tools. Are your Boolean searches really searching for what you think they are searching for? How fast do you type? Clearly the faster you type the faster you can update your ATS and send emails and the more work you'll get done.

Ability to understand the requisition-Clearly we can't possibly be expert in everything we recruit for but we should be quickly able to grasp the essential parts of the requisition.

Ability to understand the skills and competencies required to do the job-skills and competencies are more than just words on a page.

Sourcing skills-as corporate recruiters we often have no bandwidth for sourcing as opposed to screening. When we have a critical, hard-to-fill requisition we need to find candidates. There's a lot more to this than running a few searches on your ATS.

Resume review skills-we could say that we look at resumes for a living. Great recruiters can review resumes quickly, identify strong candidates, and eliminate the unqualified candidates. Often it's what's missing from the resume that is most telling.

Closing and negotiation skills-it's a lot of work to move a candidate through the recruitment funnel. Strong closing skills maximize the percentage of candidates who accept our offers. Closing starts with the first conversation with the candidate and usually ends when they start work with us or decline our offer.

Be able to truthfully sell the company-closing isn't about making stuff up and convincing candidates to do things that they don't want to do. We all need to understand what's great about our company and where we have opportunities to improve so that we can sell the company in a fair and balanced way.

Persuasive-you'll use your powers of persuasion whenever you attempt to close a candidate on an opportunity or encourage a hiring manager to interview a candidate.

Hire for the future and for scalability-with every hire we make we are building teams of people. It's important to hire the right people that will make a positive difference for years to come. Today's candidates often turn into tomorrow's hiring managers. Are you hiring people who can continue to grow and develop their skills?

Relationship builder-our work is all about building relationships with our candidates and internal customers. Build strong bonds and great things will happen.

Flexibility-wait five minutes and something will change. We've all experienced doing a lot of work on a requisition only to have it be put on hold. As they say, "them's the breaks!" When something like that happens, do you let it ruin your whole day or week or do you get to work on the most important thing on your desk?

Tolerance of ambiguity-sometimes you won't have all the information that you believe you need and you won't be able to get it. You have a choice, stop work and wait or take some action and see what happens. Great recruiters will do the latter.

Understand the company culture-some candidates will thrive here and others will fail dismally. It's our job to understand what works and what doesn't.

Create business value-do your internal customers see you as an administrator or as a trusted business partner? You can't create value unless it's the latter.

Sense of urgency-Part of our job is to instill a sense of urgency in our hiring managers and our candidates.

Able to keep confidential information confidential-this is self evident

Integrity-in a corporate environment, any cutting of corners, untruths, or sloppy work will eventually be discovered.

Methodical-we have a lot to do and a lot of process to follow. A haphazard approach is not the best way to get the most quality work done.

Makes mutually beneficial hires-we're not just filling requisitions here! Every hire that we make should be the right thing for company and the new hire.

Knowledge of state and federal employment regulations-this is self evident.

Candidate control-is often associated with agency recruitment but it's equally important in a corporate environment. For example, do you know what other opportunities your candidate has, what their motivations are for relocating to the area, if they have support for the change in employment from their family? If you don't then you have little candidate control.

Have a thick skin-people say and do things that we often can't believe. It isn't personal and it isn't about you.
Ambassador-be an ambassador for your company in every interaction you have at work and away from work. You may be surprised what comes your way as a result.

Expert on competitors-the more you know about your competitors the better you'll be at working with candidates. Your closing percentage will increase and your sourcing abilities will improve with the more you know.

Understand that time kills all deals-this is the classic last but not least statement. Candidates have a shelf life. Business needs have a shelf life. To put that another way, if you wait too long your competitors will hire the best candidates and your business areas will find another way to get the work done without you.

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Tags: competencies, corporate, experiences, personality, recruiter

Comment by Simon Meth on July 3, 2009 at 9:03pm
Hi Jennifer,

Interesting take. Contemporary! I hadn't thought of that. Could have done without your last sentence though.


Comment by Saleem Qureshi on February 16, 2010 at 12:47am
What an interesting post...I would highly emphasis on Technical-savvy in this technological era...recruiters need to update themselves about new softwares in their industry like talent assessment tool, not to miss out a great talent!
Comment by Simon Meth on February 16, 2010 at 8:56am
Thanks Saleem. Technical savvy rather than technical expertise makes sense to me. Clearly, recruiters can't be tech experts in everything they recruit for but knowing what questions to ask to determine if the candidate is knowledgeable is key!


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