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What separates good from great in the recruiting world

Back in January of 2013, I wrote about the top 5 attributes of exceptional recruiters.  I cited things like working with a sense of urgency, ability to downstream candidates and being reachable as key attributes that recruiters need to possess.  In hind sight, I probably shouldn’t have shot for such a superlative (exceptional) but my thinking was this, I have seen such a gap in skill sets among recruiters that those who had those attributes stood out in my mind as being “exceptional.”  Maybe I should have simply described those recruiters that work with a sense of urgency, downstream their candidates and communicate well as being “good.”  I mean, at the end of day, if you can’t do those things well, than you probably shouldn’t be in the business!  So what truly makes a GREAT recruiter, or better yet, what do the very best, the “expert” or “exceptional” recruiters do?

RecruiterThe very best recruiters use the telephone – yes, I know that everyone knows how to “use” the phone, what I am getting at is that they use it as the #1 tool in their toolbox.  They are skilled and adept at picking up that phone and sourcing and closing candidates.  They don’t rely on email as their main communication tool.  The very best recruiters also have that uncanny ability to know when to pick up the phone and touch base with a candidate that is going through the recruitment funnel – whether it is to provide reassurance that they are still moving through the process or perhaps to keep them on the “hook” after having accepted an offer so that they are not influenced by a counter offer.  Either way, it is almost like a 6th sense or super power that they possess!

The best leverage social media – of course in today’s social media driven world, great recruiters need to be skilled at utilizing social media to enhance their digital footprint and enhance their professional “brand.”  No, you don’t have to be an expert on every platform; however great recruiters are skilled at utilizing LinkedIn to find great candidates.  (It doesn’t even have to be the Recruiter platform).  They know how to leverage the power of joining and participating in Linkedin groups, they are adept at providing content to these groups and balancing this vs. just putting up job postings. They also know how to run a company page, take advantage of Linkedin’s search functionality and provide their own relevant updates that will drive traffic to their profile.  The very best also have a Twitter presence – they are adept at creating and sharing relevant content so as to enhance their overall SoMe (social media) presence.  Lastly, the very best typically augment all their recruiting efforts through some sort of writing/blogging effort.  They may write content for a Linkedin page, a company/corporate website or perhaps their own blog.  One of the very best at doing this is Tim Sackett – he runs his own blog, The Tim Sackett Project – in addition to running his own recruiting company.  His witty, cutting writing style drives a lot of  interested readers to his blog and overall it enhances his SoMe presence and his “position” as a subject matter expert in the recruiting and HR fields.

Know how to conduct a Boolean search – at the risk of making this blog post a lesson in Boolean searching, all I will say about this topic is that if you are a recruiter and DON’T know what a Boolean search is or don’t know how to run one, then you need to find out how.  Check out Glen Cathey’s blog, Boolean Black Belt, to find out more – you will be glad you did!  This ability truly separates good from great in the recruiting world.

Act as a consultant – whether you work for a 3rd party search firm or a corporate recruiting team, the great recruiters act as recruiting consultants.  They aren’t simply order takers that then march out into the field of battle to find the latest purple squirrel.  Recruiting consultants engage in dialogue with their clients to ensure proper expectations are set and that the recruiting campaign maintains ongoing alignment with these expectations.  Roadblocks, obstacles and delays need to be discussed in a consulting (solutions focused) manner.  Recruiting consultants also coach and guide their clients through the process at all times so that they keep campaigns on track and obtain repeat business.

Finally, the great recruiters are salespeople at heart.  Let’s not try and fool anyone here and call recruiting an HR role.  It may report into HR, which is fine, but it isn’t an HR role.  Great recruiters are great sales people.  They know how to open dialogue, identify a problem and apply a solution, overcome objections, negotiate and finally, CLOSE.  Recruiting is sales through and through – in this case, it is the selling of talent that solves an organizational problem.  The great recruiters know this – which is why/how they seperate themselves from good recruiters.  Their talent lies in the ability to overcome objections, negotiate and close.

So, there you have five key differentiators they separate good from great recruiters.  Feel free to use it as an acid test to compare where you or your team are/is in this spectrum.  The good news for the good recruiters is that all of these areas can be learned/coached and you can become great yourself – as long as you are a recruiter at heart and not an HR Pro in disguise!

What do you think?  In your experience, do these five areas capture recruiting greatness?  Do you have anything to add?  Any disagreements?  As always, I welcome your comments and feedback

Image courtesy of SOMMAI/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

5 Attributes of Exceptional Recruiters

Last week I blogged about the 6 characteristics that make up a great Human Resources Professional. This week I wanted to take it a step further but in a slightly different direction. I want to focus on what makes up an exceptional recruiter. For purposes of this post, I am not looking at technical skills or educational qualifications. Things like sales ability, negotiation skills, etc. are pretty much a given and really are a ticket into the recruiting “game.” What I am looking at are those attributes that separate the crème de la crème of the recruiting world. These attributes apply to both 3rd party (agency) recruiters as well as in-house (internal talent acquisition) recruiters. What I am not delineating here are the differences in skillsets between recruiters and sourcers; I am simply getting at what is in the inherent DNA of the best recruiters. Based on my experience and observations exceptional recruiters:

Recruiting image1) Work with a sense of urgency – I am not talking about pedal to the metal, guns a blazing, helter skelter, frenetic energy. I am referring to the ability to quickly prioritize requirements, focus on working “closest to the money” and hone in immediately on what needs to be done to source/close a candidate. By doing so, these recruiters always give their clients the impression that theirs is the ONLY recruiting requirement that they are working on at any given time! Exceptional recruiters know that they only have a limited amount of time or a limited opportunity to identify and close certain candidates and they do not let an opportunity to close pass them by. They understand that if they are not talking to these candidates and working closest to the money, than their competition will be or maybe already is.

2) Are great communicators – great in the sense that they are great at engaging their clients, asking the right qualifying questions to hone in on the essential job requirements and they keep their clients and candidates informed at every step of the recruiting process. The best recruiters provide regular status updates to their clients and candidates in terms of what to expect next and when. They also update them when there is no update – this provides the benefit of giving the client and candidate the feeling that they are always top of mind with the recruiter. The best recruiters always follow up with their clients and candidates when they say they will. If you tell a candidate you will update them on an opportunity by end of business tomorrow, than you need to make sure you update them (even if it is with a “no news” message) by end of business tomorrow. Remember, trust and credibility are everything as a recruiter.

3) Have a high degree of “reachability” – this goes along with #2 but focuses a bit more specifically on how easy (or difficult) it is for clients and candidates to get a hold of you. Nothing is more frustrating than when a client or candidate is trying to get in touch with a recruiter to ask more information about a job, request an informational interview, or get a status update on a position they have applied for and all they ever get are voice mails or unreturned emails. The best recruiters return client and candidate calls and emails by end of business – especially on a Friday. Better yet, they work off the buddy system and designate an alternative contact on their voice mail or email response so that there are no significant time lags in communicating with candidates. Recruiters who are not reachable result in frustrated clients who go elsewhere, and disenchanted candidates who take other opportunities.

4) Are adept at “down streaming” candidates – this speaks to the recruiters ability to pre-qualify candidates and effectively move them downstream in the recruiting process. They are highly adept at removing obstacles/barriers to closing candidates. This also results in fewer back and forth phone calls between the recruiter, client and candidate during the negotiation process – something that causes frustration and often causes a candidate to take another offer. Recruiters that are adept at pre-qualifying and down streaming candidates remove objections and concerns early on during the recruiting process. If compensation is a major concern, the recruiter should be asking the candidate, “If I can get you $xx, xxx from my client, will you sign their employment offer?” This way, the candidate is making a verbal commitment and it is less likely that when presented with an offer that they will come back asking for something else. The best recruiters are also cognizant of what other irons their candidates have in the fire. They ask, “what other opportunities are you currently looking at and interviewing for?” They then know what else they are up against from a timeline perspective and can also properly educate their clients if they are dragging their feet during the decision-making process.

5) Proactively identify and recommend recruiting solutions – they work with their clients in advance to draw up the recruiting plan. They advise the client on what it is going to take to attract a proper slate of candidates for a given role. Because they have done some basic Boolean searching on LinkedIn, they know the approximate pool of candidates that are even out there to be recruited from. They advise their client on a proper campaign budget and identify 3-4 ways to drive awareness around the role. They do things like ask the hiring manager what has been successful in the past from a hiring perspective and who on their team currently would be an example of a successful hire for the role. The best recruiters than reach out this “ideal” internal person and work the company’s referral system like a champ! Number 5 is what differentiates “order takers” from recruiters.

These are but a few attributes of exceptional recruiters but ones that I believe comprise, at a minimum, what makes up the best. It is all about being proactive, being communicative and solutions focused. What else have you experienced with recruiters? What else would you recommend be added to this list? I would love to hear from you and see in your comments how we might increase this list.

Image courtesy of jscreationzs/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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