Friday, October 26, 2012

What Makes the Most Talented Recruiters Successful?

Most professionals have encountered a recruiter at one time or another in their career.  There are internal corporate recruiters and there are external 3rd party recruiters.  Most of what is on my mind relates to external 3rd party recruiters.  Some have encountered the best recruiters in business while others have not been so fortunate.
What Makes a Great Recruiter?
Recruiters come in all shapes, sizes and levels of expertise.   Some recruiters think that recruiting is a form of social work.  These types of individuals don’t last long in a search firm environment.
Some recruiters think that recruiting is sales.  These people are 100% correct. 
In fact, recruiting is one of the most difficult forms of sales on the planet.  Not only does a 3rd party outside recruiter have to identify, recruit and sell candidates, they also have to identify, cultivate and sell the clients who will pay their search fee. 
A recruiter has to sell two parties simultaneously all the time in order to get paid.
I’ve been an Accountant, now I can Recruit Accountants…really?
Some recruiters thank that because they’ve been a professional in a certain skill discipline that they’re now capable of turning their hat around in order to recruit in that discipline.  This approach can sometimes work if the recruiter possesses the raw sales talent required to be a recruiter but if they are solely relying on what they know about a profession and they’re not gifted as a highly perceptive sales person and they don’t understand psychology, they will likely not succeed.
For example, understanding how to configure a firewall does not qualify a person to go out and find someone who knows how to configure a firewall.  It might seem like this person is qualified to recruit until you understand that recruiting is about people, not firewalls.
How Are Successful Recruiters Wired?
There is a thread that runs through many of the most talented recruiters I’ve encountered over my 20+ years of recruiting and that is a thread of communication.
The strongest recruiters I know (and I know many) are people who are truly gifted to be recruiters.  They understand that recruiting is sales and part psychology.  These people are gifted in that they are highly intuitive individuals and they’re able to read others very quickly.  They are sales people, problem solvers, occasionally career counselors, they understand many different flavors of business and above all, they understand people.  They’re in the people business.  They understand how to solve business problems with people.
How to Work With Gifted Recruiters
I recently turned to some of the most talented recruiters I know and asked them to identify the one most important element in their recruiting process.  They unanimously told me that they need access to stakeholder decision makers within their client companies. 
Why, because second and third-hand information will not motivate a gifted recruiter to recruit.  They need to hear what the hiring manager and/or stakeholders if there are multiple decision makers in the process have to say about what they want in a successful candidate.
They’re Not Order Takers
Beyond just listening to what hiring authorities think they want, a recruiter who is highly specialized in an area of recruiting such as security recruiting or maybe finance recruiting or engineering recruiting, needs to be able to probe and ask questions of hiring authorities to sometimes take the hiring authority to a place in their mind where the hiring authority’s original thought process didn’t take them.
This action of pulling information out of hiring authorities that the hiring authority didn’t know was important to put on the table is often the gift that separates outstanding recruiters from the pack.  Obviously, if a recruiter is held at arms-length and can’t gain access to hiring authorities, they can’t exercise the gift that makes them most valuable to their clients.'s Security Recruiter Blog