What makes a recruiter go from good to great

Recruitment is a fantastic industry to be in! In general recruiters love dealing with a variety of people, juggling different needs from different candidate and different employers and matching candidates with employers (both from a job description perspective and also from a personality/environment perspective).


Many recruiters started as professionals in another field, whilst just as many came out of Uni with an HR or similar degree and decided helping people find their dream job was for them! The problem comes about when the knowledge of people and/or the knowledge of the industry is not matched with the ability to make placements that are mutually beneficial (for both the candidate and the employer).


So why does this happen?

Perhaps the best analogy I can give is that of multi-skilling; it is more than just skills, a great recruiter is more than a matchmaker, they know how to use tools like Psychometric assessments; they can see through the truth stretching of a resume and can see the logisitics of why an employer may be churning through too many staff.


A great recruiter understands that a perfect match is more than just skills based, it requires a detailed understanding of personalities, environments and expectations. Yes! Expectations are a proven psychological measure of potential success (for both employers and candidates!). (Edwin Locke is one of my favourite proponents of the theory of Goal Setting - read here for more).


What does this mean for industry specialist recruiters?

The key skills required to be a successful recruiter are more than just the key skills that made you successful in your field. Recruiters who have specialist knowledge of their field are definitely in high demand: the ability to look at a candidate purely from an experience and educational point of view, and to be able to TRULY understand this value to an employer is certainly one of the paramount requirements of a good recruiter. BUT a GREAT recruiter will understand that there is more than the job description in play. The office environment must suit the personality of the candidate; the management style must also match the needs of the candidate AND the employers methods of rewarding and valuing their staff is vitally important for the candidate's happiness.


What does this mean for recruiters with limited specific industry experience?

Before I start - I should elaborate: I am referring here to people who started, or have spent most of their career in recruitment or HR, rather than in specialist fields (eg: IT, Medicine, Engineering, etc.). I understand that recruiters work with specific industries, but this advice is for those who don't have years of experience as a Programmer, a Nurse or a Civil Engineer etc.


A good recruiter can see the personality style of a candidate, understand the office dynamics of the employer and match the education of the candidate with the needs of the employer. BUT a GREAT recruiter will understand that less than 2 years experience means the educational qualifications aren't as important. A great recruiter will understand that the education and experience of a candidate varies in relation to their previous responsibilities and level of autonomy. The candidate must have the confidence to successfully undertake any of the skills based tasks required by the employer, that means they must have specific knowledge or the competency to apply themselves to the specific needs.


How do you go from good to great?

There are core skills you need:


  • the ability to LISTEN, ie: hear all that is not being said as well as what is being said;
  • the ability to COMMUNICATE clearly what each party requires and wants;
  • the MOTIVATION to look beyond what is on paper and push past initial objections/fears; and
  • ORGANISATION to make sure that you always have your candidates and employers on the same page as you!
  • But most of all a GREAT recruiter knows that it is more about what is on paper, a great recruiter can see past the surface, knows their candidates AND their employers well and has used not only all of the metrics now available to them, but also their keen matchmaking skills!

Do you know if your candidate or employer are going to love the person or company you put forward to them? We'd love to hear how you do this!! Please leave a comment below!

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