New to Recruiting? Here are 9 Things You Should Know

"Recruiting" is the office-appropriate word we use for what we used to call "head hunting." It's a great job to have, once you get the hang of it. If you're new, though, getting the hang of things probably feels a long way off.

Here are nine things you should know if you want to be able to develop the keen instincts of the pros.

1. You Need to Have a Real Interest in People

The best recruiters are people who are genuinely interested in meeting new people and learning about them. Not only that, but you have to actively enjoy the company of others. If you're a solitary creature, you'll just feel awkward, and that awkwardness will keep you from forming the real connection you need to form with a potential recruit.

2. You Have to Want to Help

The focus of recruiting is helping others be great. Your job is to put the right people in the right places so they can do what they do best. If you tend to look at people and potential relationships through the "what can this person do for me" lens, you'll have a hard time getting anybody to trust you. You need to be able to take your own wants and needs out of the picture.

3. Selling Is Important

As crass as it sounds, recruiters are all salespeople. You're trying to sell a certain company (and position within it) to potential recruits. It isn't that different from being able to talk a little kid into putting on a sweater even when he insists he isn't cold. You have to convince him that he needs the sweater. You have to convince the recruit that he needs to work for the company.


Same skill set, different application.

4. Lay the Groundwork

A subtle initial approach is important. It's not unlike wooing. You don't just rush into moving in together. You meet the person and exchange numbers or email addresses and get to know that person slowly over time.

You don't rush at a potential recruit with a job match. You get to know the person over time to make sure the company you're representing is actually a good fit for the recruit (and vice versa). If you can't take the patient approach, you're better off in a more direct-sales position.

5. Matchmaker, Matchmaker, Make Me a Match

Are you good at fixing people up? This doesn't have to mean romantically. To be a great recruiter, you need to know how to match up a potential recruit with a hiring manager and company. You also have to be great at selling the hiring manager or company on the potential recruit. Good recruiters have a talent for knowing how to fix up complementary needs and fill them.

6. Tech: Take it or Leave It

Obviously you want to be well versed in the latest communications technology from smartphones to social media portals and popular websites. You also have to be comfortable communicating the old-fashioned way: in person. A good recruiter is comfortable communicating with a potential recruit (and hiring manager) via whatever communication portals and methods are the most comfortable for them.


Think of it as texting...the analog way!

7. Know When to Hold 'Em and When to Fold 'Em

Great recruiters do not force matches when the match isn't right. Yes, if you know the match would be a good one, you've got room to be pushy (as the situation warrants it). At some point, though, you have to know when to walk away from something that just isn't going to happen.

Being able to walk away and let the recruitment fizzle with grace is an important skill. You can't take these things personally. If you do, you run the risk of burning bridges and your ability to recruit great people in the future.

8. Social Butterflies

Being a great recruiter means being able to build up a huge network of contacts. This means you have to be comfortable being social. This doesn't just mean you have to be comfortable with people on an individual basis. It means you have to be comfortable in social environments. You have to put yourself out into the world and make a great impression on it. You can't just sit in an office, surf the web, and expect to do a great job.

9. Genuine

There's a certain amount of fake it 'til you make it in this industry. At the same time, you have to genuinely enjoy, appreciate, and have affection for both your potential recruits and the companies in which you are trying to place them. If you don't believe in one (or both) of them, you'll have a much harder time convincing anybody that the match you have in mind is a good one.

What most new recruiters don't know is that recruiting is more of a lifestyle than a simple job. Hopefully this article will help you see how true that is. If you're skeptical, ask your mentor!

Erin Steiner writes for portals all over the web. She covers topics from profiles of businesses like like Lindsay Rosenwald to pop culture to Internet geekery and everything in between.

Views: 6389

Comment by Ionut Roghina on September 2, 2013 at 5:17am

Erin, nicely written article. However, I must say that I do not agree with all the points (in fact, with most of them). I would argue that the most successful recruiters (business POV, KPI's, etc) do not have the traits mentioned on points 1, 2, 6, 7 and 9, but they are good salespeople (not necessarily very professional or courteous). These points might sound nice to people who are new to the business, however it does not paint a realistic image of the industry. On the other hand, I do agree with your conclusion: anyone thinking to get into recruitment must understand it is more than just a simple job.

Comment by Jerry Albright on September 3, 2013 at 12:00pm

A better title here would have been "9 Things Non Recruiters Think Recruiters Need to Know".

Maybe for part 2 - you might look into interviewing a few recruiters.  :)

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on September 3, 2013 at 12:32pm

yeah that doesn't sound like me at all... :(

Comment by Erin Steiner on September 3, 2013 at 1:08pm

Thanks for the feedback guys :)  I'm sorry I missed the mark here. I was going for stuff for super newbies and it looks like I over-simplified it! Maybe we can add some depth here in the comments section? Let's start with this: if you could give *one* piece of advice for that person who says "wow, becoming a recruiter seems cool. How do I get a job doing that?" what would it be?

Comment by Amy Ala Miller on September 3, 2013 at 1:24pm

Motivated by problem solving. Willing to get rejected repeatedly. Influential - getting others to see your POV / go your way without being an ass.

I'm on the fence about the "real interest in people" part. At least you didn't say you have to "like" people. That's practically the kiss of death :) but being interested in people? could work.

Comment by Jerry Albright on September 3, 2013 at 1:25pm

Being a "social butterfly" is pretty much a one-way ticket to your next career.

Comment by Noel Cocca on September 3, 2013 at 8:25pm

Why do I keep thinking vodka goes good with lemonade?  

Comment by Sandra McCartt on September 4, 2013 at 9:30am
My advice to anyone who thinks they want to be a recruiter. If you read an article about how to be a recruiter be sure it has been written by a recruiter.

If you want to be a writer with credibility, write about something you know something about or at least interview a few people who do know something about your subject before you write it, not after.

We do not get to know people over a long period of time. Any newbie who tried to do that would be out the door in 30 days.

Recruiters have to be judgemenal people, able to evaluate candidates on several different levels with limited interaction.

Sales is not crass.

We do not have to like or have any kind of affection for either our candidates or our clients. The mark of a good recruiter is being able to place a qualified candidate whom we personally, genuinely do not like and be able to separate our personal prejudices from our business judgement. Any idiot can represent someone they really like. Good recruiters handle, manage and evaluate business situations and people to solve problems. Pushy recruiters fail period.

One of the most successful recruiters I have ever known lives on the island of Maui. He never met a candidate, never talked with a candidate by phone, resumes were submitted via fax as were job reqs. He hated people and social situations but he knew a good petroleum engineer when he saw the resume. Placed them all over the world. He retired last year. Still doesn't use email. Just the fax , ma'am.
Comment by Amy Ala Miller on September 4, 2013 at 10:42am

The best thing a baby recruiter can do is get on the phone. Call every engineer (or whatever your told to find) within a 100 miles and find out what kind of opportunity would be interesting enough to take your call again. Do that for the first month, get a nice little stack of potential candidates and bring them to your senior recruiter, boss, someone that can show you what do with them. THAT IS ALL. Don't tweet, don't blog, don't start a company facebook page. Find. Candidates.

Comment by Kelly Blokdijk on September 4, 2013 at 6:33pm

I disagree with most of this list as well. Something I would add as a necessity is common sense combined with business sense. 

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