From Being a Good to Great Recruiter: 3 Key Elements

I’ve been trying to hire additional recruiters to my staffing team recently.  It has been a lengthy process trying to identify strong candidates for an in-house recruiting position.  Like most hiring managers, I’ve screened through as many resumes as I can get my hands on and interviewed a select few that looked good on paper.

The candidates I talked to are obviously doing well in their current organization.  They are working with their managers to select the best candidates for their organization.  However, it’s been elusive to find a compelling recruiter.

Common Problems for Recruiters

Increased Utilization of Agencies – In-house recruiters make extensive use of external agencies to generate candidate profiles.  There is not enough candidates applying for the positions so they have to use additional channels to help source.

Recruiters also make limited use of social media to network with candidates.  Without a network of contacts they rely on external agency recruiters to supplement the recruiting effort.

Lack Understanding of the Business:  There are some recruiters who do not have a deep understanding of the business and candidate requirements.  Most organizations put a great deal of workload on recruiters and expect them to fill as many positions as fast as they can.

For example, a recruiter should be able to explain the concept of “cloud computing” if they are currently working for a data storage company.  The recruiter may not have to know the technical detail but at least, know the concepts.

Recruiters are often working “outside” of the HR business partner relationships where the HR generalist are expected to be involved driving organization development.  Recruiters are the gatekeepers of the organization and need to take a much more involved role.

Stepping Stone to HR:  This is particularly true in Asia, where recruiting is seen as an entry function into the broader world of HR.  Most recruiters will tell you that their career development path is to be a HR generalist/business partner.  Very few see recruiting is a a career path in its own right.

No wonder, if recruiting is a stepping stone, recruiters will not invest as much in their own professional development in something that doesn’t have a longer personal value proposition.

HR organizations have limited budget and resources focusing on recruiter development.  Consider the external development courses or seminars.  I receive promotional materials for training, compensation, performance management and the likes.  However, there are virtually none that focus on recruiting.  Albeit all the topics are relevant to the recruiter but not dedicated topics to the recruiter.

Standing Above the Rest

But what does it take to stand above the rest?  Below are the qualities that one must possess to be a great recruiter.

Personal Passion and Commitment:  A personal desire is a first sign of a commitment to quality.  It tells me that the person will dedicate him or herself to sourcing and hiring the best.  Recruiting is not an easy job.  Most in-house recruiters work with volume and under tight deadlines from their hiring managers.  But, for the recruiter there must some personal gratification that is derived from “hunting” candidates.

A person with a sense of passion for recruiting will probably have a personal commitment to doing the best job possible, helping the company find the best talent.  The axiom of A-list people will hire other A-list people.  Thus, I will want A-list recruiters on my team.

Sales Skills:  There are some recruiters who are what I call, “technical” recruiters.  Those are the recruiters who knows how to source candidate CVs using Boolean searches, scour the internet for candidate profiles and know the latest sourcing tools.

However, in Asia, many of these tools don’t work quite as well.  Firstly, the resource tools that work so well in the US, do not have a strong database in Asia.  Most candidates are considered as “passive.”  They tend to rely heavily on recruitment agencies to help facilitate the job prospecting process.

The best recruiters are therefore those who can sell and close candidates on the job.  They can network with a cross section of the industry.  They solicit referrals and follow up on cold-calls.  They have the ability to influence the hiring manager on the right candidate profile and have strong input in the final candidate selected for the job.

One doesn’t necessarily need to be great technical sourcer per se, but have the ability to have a “hook” on a candidate keeping them interested in the role or at minimum, not letting an uninterested candidate go without getting a commitment for a referral.  The best recruiters can work with hiring managers in managing expectations to offer the best candidates.

Knowledge of the Business and HR:  There has been a lot of discussion of HR being a strategic partner.  What does that really mean?  How do we recognize a “strategic” recruiter?

The recruiter really ought to know the business.  That insight could range from corporate mission, division objectives, or country plans.  They should know the technical requirements of the role and ability to do the initial technical screen.  The top recruiter is also very knowledgeable of the external market.  They utilize that information to work with internal managers to strategize in order to identify the best candidate for the job.

Moreover, the recruiter need to have strong knowledge of the HR function and internal organization dynamics.  When the headcount requisition is opened to begin the recruiting process, the recruiter should be thinking of succession planning and bench players.  Each requisition opened is an opportunity for organization development – optimizing the organization.  At the offer stage, recruiters are dealing with compensation and benefits.  When the final candidate is identified, the recruiter is working with HR business partners on on potential training needs, integration plan, and transition plans.  Thus, the top recruiter needs to have knowledge of the full range of HR discipline and partner with their HR partners.

These are the 3 keys competencies/attributes when I interview for recruiters.  Although the search has been elusive, it is not impossible.  I know I can find the good, but I want the great recruiter.  I know they are out there.

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