Basics – I use this word frequently when talking with my teams. It’s usually during a pep talk “…don’t forget the basics…” or when someone has made a mistake and to me it was a “basic mistake”. Basics – the core skills we use to do our craft. People will argue which basics are more important or what even the basics are for recruiters. Each member of my team has received their recruitment training in a different place, time and environment than me but when I hire a new recruiter I try to see if they have the basic skills that will mesh well with my team and with the company.

I realized recently that stating “that’s a basic skill of recruiting” or “these are the basics” that maybe their basics are different then mine – similar but different.

What are my basics?

Provide excellent customer service to internal hiring clients and to candidates. This does not mean rollover for the customer, set the expectations and then deliver.

Do not sit and wait for candidates seek them out no matter what the position. Our job is to find the most qualified candidate available from the pool for the role. Posting and praying is one tool available (say what you will but it is) along with resume databases but look for others.

Learn the business as if it were your own. There are so many references to how recruiters are like salespeople or marketers – if they do not believe in their products they will not sell or market them effectively. The same goes for recruiters. The more you know about your company and the industry you will have a much more productive client meeting and candidate screening experience. Plus both groups will treat you with much more respect and not as an administrator just pushing paper.

Be as effective and efficient as possible. I like to always evaluate how I have things structured (my day, my team, how I approach reqs), what tools are providing us the most efficient ways to work without losing effectiveness. Recruiting in general is not a complicated function and it is the details that will trip some of us up. Don’t equate busy administrative work as being productive and don’t wait for your managers to find a way that is easier for you. It’s your time and energy, figure out a way to do quality work in the most cost effective and efficient manner – in other words – experiment often.

Treat candidates how you want to be treated. I have been fortunate to not be in the job market for the past five years, but I still remember the feeling and I always try to put myself in the candidate’s perspective. I have written about this before – it is simple to follow up with everyone you have contacted - they deserve the closure and it will pay rewards later.

You are as only good as your last hire. It’s true, whether you like it or not it doesn’t matter – you have to have short memory in recruiting. Celebrate the hire and then move on. Don’t rest on your laurels or think that by placing a string of good people will save you. It only takes one mistake to blow the client’s trust in your abilities. I treat each req as if it was my first one with a hiring manager and I want to impress them.

These are my basics – there are also several sub topics such as time management, thinking big picture, know when to push back and deliver on your word – and I may cover those in future blogs.

By knowing your basics and evaluating them, living by them and learning from others what their basics are can move your company forward.

I welcome your thoughts.

This blog was originally posted on

Views: 86

Comment by John Heffron on April 22, 2010 at 12:49pm
You have got to love the basics. I will be sharing this post with my team!
Comment by Sandra McCartt on April 22, 2010 at 4:40pm
Love it, my fav saying is that recruiters are just like Luby's Cafe. We are only as good or as bad as the last meal anybody had there.
Comment by David King on April 23, 2010 at 9:48am
Great post; thank you!! I'll be sharing this with my team!
Comment by Mark Sullivan on April 23, 2010 at 11:09am
John and David - thank you and honored you would share with your teams.

Sandra - Always like your comments - we seem to be on the same level of thinking about recruiting. My last meal at Luby's was horrible and I have yet to return and I avoid if possible. Too funny how that could be parallel to our jobs.
Comment by Will Branning on April 23, 2010 at 11:57am
Mark, great reminders. I just closed on my 3rd placement this month & I need to keep focused. Just remembering how I went several months w/o a placement last year helps me to remember to keep focused. I definitely agree that knowing the industry and our clients as well as possible truly makes us consultants and not simply paper-pushers.
Comment by Cindy J. Biter on April 23, 2010 at 1:02pm
Great article, Mark. After spending nealy 15 years working for somebody else, I opened up my own firm in January 2010. Since Jan., I've made 11 placements and I can't believe I didn't do this long ago. I guess it took a recession and a market down-turn to help me refocus. But you're right. Remember the basics and you can't go wrong!


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