I’m excited about this topic, mainly because I am a recruiter. Ironically, my strategies as a new recruiter 14 years ago were definitely not refined. I exemplified very few of the seven characteristics I value most today. What I have found about the world of recruiting is there are few prerequisites or barriers of entry. For that reason, it can be challenging to find someone with the experience and skills necessary to be truly effective. Recruiters are everywhere, but finding a great recruiter can be a bit of a treasure hunt.
I’ve spent eight years interviewing and hiring candidates to work for my own companies. It can be quite a task to find someone with the characteristics I’m looking for as a recruiter. Alanis Morissette could add a line to her song Ironic about recruiters. Isn’t it ironic that recruiters hire great employees for other companies, but struggle to find talent for their own.
The recruiting and staffing industry has a bad reputation of high turnover. Consulting is one of the most valuable skills someone can possess in becoming effective as a recruiter. However, it takes a while to develop the mindset and instincts necessary. That’s probably why it took me so long to find my own groove and then identify what characteristics to hire. If you ever get contacted by a recruiter, use this as your litmus test. These are 7 signs I would look for to identify a great recruiter.
Great recruiters are excellent listeners.
The ability to really listen to a candidate is your greatest asset. It’s also a characteristic many of us lack. If not careful, we can waste time selling candidates on what we think they need. Our industry is full of pushy recruiters with an agenda. The problem with a recruiter being driven by their own agenda is that it limits yours as a candidate. If you find this to be true of a recruiter you are working with, I suggest you cut stop working with them. They should be asking questions constantly. The same is true of account managers. If a recruiter isn’t in a constant state of curiosity, it’s impossible to genuinely make the best recommendations.
They have knowledge of your industry.
Not all recruiters are created equal. I suggest you only work with a recruiter who specializes in your industry or specialty. Even the best recruiter will struggle to help someone find a job outside their wheelhouse. A large part of my value is the network of hiring managers and companies I have personal relationships with in several niche industries. It’s not just about a database of companies and names. A recruiter has relationships of trust and respect that have been forged over time. We often have worked with the same companies multiple times. I have clients who joke I know more about their company than employees. In addition, we have strong relationships with candidates. I have candidates that have become close friends, and I have placed them in numerous roles over the last decade. A great recruiter is deeply invested with the people they work with.
A great recruiter should be available with clear communication.
Your recruiter is your liaison for opportunities. Although there may only be a few times you urgently need to speak with your recruiter, its still important that they make you and effectively communicating a priority. Not all communication during the interview process is positive either. A recruiter should be clear and honest. Clear is kind. To be effective, it’s important that the communication between you and a recruiter is consistent and open.
They offer constructive criticism all along the way.
You don’t need a “yes man.” An excellent recruiter will coach you, advise you, and offer concise feedback all along the way. Your recruiter will let you know why you didn’t qualify for the specific job you wanted and what you can do to change that in the future. They should keep you informed and have a relationship with their client that is also open and honest. Hiring managers are often so busy with their responsibilities outside of hiring that they forget or overlook sending a candidate good feedback. A recruiter will insure things don’t fall through the cracks.
The recruiter should fight for what you want.
Its a competitive world, especially when it comes to employment. The beautiful part about employment is that intangibles are also at play when being considered for a role. You need a recruiter who knows you well enough to fight for you in the areas you hold most important. This goes back to listening and clear communication. I understand that you may be going against another candidate for a job who has more management experience, or budgeting experience, or software proficiency, but, as a consultant, I will be able to push the door open when possible, and help you outshine the competition. It’s my job to help the client meet the candidate in the middle.
Your recruiter will challenge you.
I have often found that most candidates think they know what they want, but they have limited perspective. When I was younger I was just a robot. When I spoke with a candidate about a job, I just asked them generically what they wanted. But when I learned how to become a consultant, I started to ask deeper questions, and challenge candidates by asking why more often. I noticed my intake calls went from 10-15 minutes long to 30 – 60 minutes long because I realized the value in understanding the job candidate better and challenging what they wanted to get the real answer.
A great recruiter understands the long game.
We are in the people business. We are in the business of promoting the most dynamic thing on earth. For that reason, we have to be fluid and adaptable to changes, challenges, timing, and desires. My suggestion would be to develop a real, long-lasting relationship with a recruiter you can trust. Although you may not need their services until 6 years into your relationship, they will be a great person to stay connected with.
Remember that with today’s enormous amounts of lead generation tools and social media, it is extremely easy to identify the talent a company wants to hire. What can be difficult is attracting the talent, and matchmaking the best fits. Because of this, I suggest you find a great recruiter you can trust. Look for these 7 signs of a great recruiter, and develop a real friendship with your recruiter. You will thank me one day.