Recruiting the Recruiter: Why Candidates With Multiple Personalities Fit

One of the things I love about my job is the opportunity I have to talk with recruiters all over the country about how they source great talent. Yes. I’m a sourcing geek. Guilty as charged. I just eat it up. I love to hear these “artists” tell me about their craft.

 Sure, I’m on a sales call, and I do want to tell them about what our site does, but I also want to know what they’re already doing. Are they using anything new and innovative with their standard sourcing methods?

My recruiter conversations, much like the conversations you have with your clients, help me determine if I can be of help in finding candidates for hard-to-fill positions. I find that even the best recruiters have jobs that really challenge them from time to time. Those positions tend to be our specialty because they need to get a lot of exposure.

Something you may find interesting is the position most recruiting firms tell me they find is their hardest to fill. It’s not a clinical neuropsychologist, or a chemical genetics engineer with statistics experience in Tupelo, Mississippi. It is usually a recruiter for their own firm! I have some thoughts about this I’d like to share today. I’ve spent several years of my career recruiting new recruiters for my own teams.

Did you know that something like 80% of new hire recruiters don’t make it? I think that is a pretty conservative number. Here’s why; the recruitment profession is one that requires two completely different personality types in one person! If you are a great recruiter, chances are you have a split personality. Better yet, multiple personalities! O.K. The terms “split personality” or “multiple personality” might not be completely accurate.  What I am saying is that a recruiter does not fit in to one personality type. There are no cookie cutters in this business, right? I think we can all agree that a recruiter will need a core set of skills that goes beyond the traits of one personality type. They must be willing and able to wear a lot of different hats, and wear them well; with style even!

How would you describe the traits of a great recruiter?  I would say to be a great recruiter you need the confidence of a sales manager with the instincts of a police detective. You need to be somewhat of a Type-A administrative professional but have the empathy of a social worker. Oh yeah, and you could really benefit from being as tech savvy as the IT guy with the financial smarts of your accountant. Would you agree?

In my opinion, a truly talented recruiter will need a little bit of the behavioral traits of many roles. That can make advertising a position for a recruiter tough. There is a lot to cover as far as requirements. Here is an example that I use:

  •  Exceptional work ethic and leadership skills to manage your work as if it were your own business.
  • Impeccable written and verbal communication skills.
  • Talent in the art of persuasion or the ability to motivate an individual to be open to new ideas.
  • Self-discipline to maintain the highest standards in business ethics and professional values. (In recruiting your reputation is EVERYTHING.)
  •  The ability to aggressively seek self-improvement, and use initiative to implement and adapt to new technologies. (Recruiting is always evolving.)
  • Recruiters must be independent and adaptive thinkers capable of making rapid decision in unfamiliar and ambiguous environments.
  • The ability to employ instinct to determine intangible criteria, and subtle indications of corporate “fit”.
  • High standards, organizational skills and effective time management are critical competencies for recruiters.
  • Empathy to put yourself in the place of the client you are serving and the candidate you will present. You must be able to understand the pain to achieve a win/win solution.
  • Exceptional ability to deploy logical thinking, cost analysis and value to negotiate deals and maintain profitability.

So how DO you find a candidate with all of these qualities?

The same way you find anyone for a hard-to-fill position. You turn over a lot of rocks! You must expand your vision. They will likely have been exposed to a variety of work situations. Once you do, you’ll see common denominators. For example; this person will likely have demonstrated a phenomenal work ethic in more than one industry. That industry might be retail, it might be food service, and it might be one you know very little about. It’s not about where they worked necessarily, it is about what they did in that role.

Another key is to realize that you can’t assume that your next great recruiter hire will be looking for a recruiting position. You have to expand your scope. Consider this particularly when you are writing an ad for the job. You will need to advertise this. A great recruiter will probably not just come knocking at your door because they heard the job was cool. For example. I typically would recommend using a basic job title with location to our job posters. But when you are recruiting a recruiter, you may want to get creative with this. I think my first recruiter ad said something to the effect of,  ”Are you willing to work hard enough to earn a 6 figure income?”

Keep your target in mind when you create your job ad.  You want to attract those that have good work ethic. They are probably motivated by making money but want the satisfaction at the end of the day that they helped someone or achieved something for the greater good.  How would you sell your own role to someone you know doesn’t understand it? What do you love about your job? What is difficult about it? Why is it worth it?

Once you have a great ad, I recommend you use a job distribution site like ours, REKRUTR, in addition to any sourcing tools you currently use. Without going in to a big sales pitch here, it is hands down the most affordable and easiest way to get exposure for a hard-to-fill position. Remember, what you are trying to do is to get as many people to view the position’s criteria. Whether they are a recruiter or not, you want them to think about who they know who they know with these traits and who they can share the position with. If you are not sure about how to say it, feel free to use some of bullets I listed above.

One final suggestion. Remove the process of elimination as your first task for screening. Instead, go in to this with a goal to interview 10 possible good fits. More, if you have the time for it. Be open to candidates that might not be currently working as a recruiter. One of the greatest recruiters I ever hired was working in catering for a large hotel chain, another was a teacher and several top earners came from retail backgrounds. Two of them did not have a college degree. Look for resumes that demonstrate the candidate might still be searching for the right career path. Even if they have bounced around a bit, do they have a consistent record of moving up the career ladder? Were they promoted to a management role from an entry level position or early in their career? Did they get performance awards? You obviously don’t want someone that has had unexplained gaps in their employment, but be willing to hear the circumstances.

I hope this will help you find more great recruiters. Please share with me your thoughts or challenges in finding great recruiting talent. What do you look for? Sound off below!

Amy McDonald works in an executive role with several employment websites including She has been working in the human resources and recruiting industry for over 20 years. Amy has worked with hundreds of recruitment professionals throughout her career, training best practices in sourcing candidates and refining the recruitment process. In her spare time, Amy also participates as a thought leader and contributor for recruitment information with BIZCATALYST360.


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