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9 Qualities and Characteristics of a Recruiter

by | Feb 3, 2023 | Top Echelon Blog

Recruiting another person to do something—anything—is not easy. If it was easy, then everybody would be able to do it. More specifically, everybody would be paid to do it. Alas, this is not the case, which is those people who have the characteristics of a recruiter are the ones who are typically compensated for their skill set.

Of course, there are multiple types of recruiters. There are professional recruiters who work for third-party agencies. There are internal recruiters or corporate recruiters who work full-time to recruit and hire top talent for their employer. And there are Human Resources personnel who, in addition to their regular duties, are also responsible for recruiting and hiring.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter the category in which you find yourself. There are certain qualities and characteristics that recruiters share in common. These qualities and characteristics help them to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of their job. In other words, they’re very proficient in recruiting job seekers and candidates for their open positions, either their own or their clients’.

Characteristics of a good recruiter vs. characteristics of a great recruiter

In the book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap . . . and Others Don’t by Jim Collins, the author describes how companies transition from being good companies to great companies and how most of them fail to make that transition. The main takeaway is this: a lot of companies can be good, but not a lot of companies can be great.

This takeaway can be applied to most things. Making the jump from good to great is one of the most difficult things to do. First, people like to be comfortable, and when you’re good at something, you’re comfortable and don’t see a reason to push further or evolve even more. And second, the amount of time, energy, and effort it takes to go from good to great turns some people off. They would rather expend the same amount of energy to stay good, rather than expend a disproportionate amount of energy—at least in their eyes—to be great.

It’s the same with recruiters. Many are good, but only a few are truly great. But then that begs the question: what defines a good recruiter and what defines a great recruiter? The parameters involved in answering this question are purely subjective. What is good to one person is great to another and vice-versa.

Characteristics of a successful recruiter

How does this affect our discussion of the qualities and characteristics of a recruiter? Basically, there are three levels of competency involved in our discussion, and they all revolve around the characteristics of a successful recruiter. Or at the very least, the characteristics of a successful recruiter as determined in a subjective fashion.

Level #1—Successful enough to stay employed as a recruiter

This is bare minimum of what can be considered “successful” as a recruiter, the fact that you can stay employed in the profession. Of course, there are certain qualities and characteristics that a person must have to stay employed.

However, keep in mind that the person does not have to possess all of them. They don’t even have to possess the majority of them. They just have to possess enough of the right ones to succeed to the point where they can be successful enough to stay gainfully employed as a recruiter.

Level #2—Successful enough to be considered a good recruiter

Obviously, a person at this level is doing more than just “scraping by.” Not only are they staying employed, but they’re good at what they do. They consistently produce positive results. More than likely, they possess the majority of the characteristics of a good recruiter.

At this level, another factor is the degree to which they possess the quality or characteristics. Do they possess it at a high level? Or are they just okay. How many qualities and characteristics do they possess and what is their proficiency level with each of them? These are the questions we must ask as we travel through our three levels of success.

Level #3—Successful enough to be considered a great recruiter

Ah, yes. Here we are. The “top of the mountain.” The pinnacle of the profession. Somebody at this level more than likely possesses all of the characteristics associated with being a great recruiter. Or they possess the vast majority of them.

Not only that, but they also have a high degree of proficiency in the quality and characteristics that they possess. This is what has helped them to make the transition from good to great. The goal, of course, is to possess ALL of the qualities and characteristics and have a high degree of proficiency in ALL of them. That way, you can reach the next level. (Superb recruiter? Fantastic recruiter? Uber recruiter?)

Characteristics of a recruiter

If you want to become a recruiter, you need to act like one. Although each professional has a different personality, recruiting approach, and hiring process, many top recruiters share similar traits. So, what are the characteristics of a recruiter?

In addition to having the necessary recruiter skills (e.g., sales and marketing skills), you must also have certain qualities for recruiting success.

If you want to learn how to be a good recruiter, hone the following nine recruiter characteristics.

characteristics of a recruiter

1. Adaptable

In many professions, the ability to adjust to change and handle curveballs is essential. Recruiting is no exception. Adaptability is one of the most critical characteristics of a recruiter.

You must be adaptable when it comes to handling candidates who drop out during the process or rescind job acceptance. And, you may have to modify your recruitment process to accommodate your clients’ needs.

Recruitment is constantly reinventing itself. Before technology, recruiters needed to sort through stacks of resumes manually. Now, recruiters depend on tools like applicant tracking systems. If you prefer clinging to tradition, recruitment might not be the path for you.

Recruiters must be adaptable to new trends, technology, and recruiting tools. Whether you decide to add contract staffing services or use social media to recruit, be willing to try new things.

2. Communicative

Having communication skills is clearly a must when you work with two parties (i.e., candidates and clients). So if you want to be a great recruiter, you must be communicative.

Communicative recruiters can easily talk with their clients and candidates. You must be able to accurately convey what your clients want to your candidates. And, you may need to negotiate a job offer.

3. Positive

Recruiters deal with a fair amount of negative situations. You will have to deny a job to many candidates. And, you may need to tell your client that their ideal candidate doesn’t want the position.

Aim for a positive disposition to cut through the negativity. What type of client and candidate would want to work with a negative recruiter?

If you stay positive throughout the highs and lows of the recruiting process, you can foster strong relationships. Positivity can leave a great impression, even when it comes to declining a job applicant.

4. Intuitive

Whenever you’re dealing with people, it helps to be intuitive. And, that’s what makes intuition one of the top characteristics of a recruiter.

Following your instincts can be useful for taking on new job orders, weeding out unqualified candidates, and offering advice to your clients.

Of course, you can’t always go with your instincts in recruiting. You need to do your due diligence, too.

5. Strong work ethic

Being a recruiter pulls your mind in a million directions. You have to juggle multiple clients, job orders, and candidates. Laziness has no place in recruiting.

One of the top traits of a good recruiter is a strong work ethic. With a strong work ethic, you can persevere through the toughest challenges.

Often, you work alone when recruiting. You must develop a work ethic to hold yourself accountable.

6. Detail-oriented

Recruiters are surrounded by so many details. Whether it’s memorizing your client’s ideal candidate or keeping up with a candidate’s prior experience, details are key to making great placements.

Being detail-oriented can also help you catch discrepancies in candidates’ backgrounds. Pay attention to what candidates say in interviews and compare their responses to their resumes.

Looking at the big picture is great. But if you fail to dive into the details, you could end up helping your client place the wrong candidate.

7. Patient

Being patient is a must for recruiters. Dealing with clients and candidates can wear on you if you aren’t careful.

Receiving your recruiter fees won’t always be a piece of cake. You may have to be persistent to get your clients to pay you. And, your clients might drag their feet when deciding on a candidate.

You will likely field questions from dozens of candidates outside scheduled conversations. And, you may hear a candidate ask the same question repeatedly.

8. Confident

Confidence is another critical component of recruiting. Without confidence, how can you sell your recruiting skills to potential clients? And, how will you convince candidates to apply for open positions?

If you are confident, you might also be more inclined to be straightforward with candidates. You can’t be timid when rejecting applicants. And, you must be secure when offering jobs to candidates.

9. Team-oriented

Sure, you do a lot of work on your own. But when you take on a new job order, you become your client’s partner. Being team-oriented is a necessary recruiter characteristic.

If you decide to do a split placement with another recruiter, you cannot be individualistic. Split placements, where one recruiter has the job order and the other the candidates, require give and take. You need to respect the other recruiter. And, you must work as a team to make the placement.

Agency recruiters vs. corporate recruiters

When it comes to qualities and characteristics of recruiters, is there a difference between agency recruiters (third-party recruiters) and internal recruiters (corporate recruiters)? The argument could be made that there is a difference.

That difference stems from the fact that agency recruiters have to deal with more people than an internal or corporate recruiter. That’s because not only do they have to worry about the job candidate, they have to worry about the hiring manager, HR personnel, and other company officials. While it’s true that internal recruiters have to deal with a similar number of people, the degree of difficulty is slightly greater for the agency recruiter.

Since this is the case, let us delve into characteristics of recruiters on the agency side of the ledger. To help us do that, we’re going to draw upon the experience and expertise of recruiting and staffing trainer Barb Bruno, CPC/CTS of Good as Gold Training. According to Barb, top-producing agency recruiters:

  1. Expect to be top producers
  2. Attach their goals to their life.
  3. Focus on full fees and high-margin business.
  4. Only focus on the top 5% of candidates.
  5. Are “rainmakers” within their agency or office.
  6. Are organized and focused on what is “closed to money.”

Click HERE to read more about these six characteristics of recruiters, courtesy of Barb Bruno.

Continuing along the same vein, Top Echelon not only has a leading recruiting and hiring software, but it also has a split fee recruiting network. In fact, Top Echelon started as a recruiting network nearly 35 years ago before we also started offering recruiting software.

In regards to its Network, Top Echelon holds recruiter networking events every year. (Or, at the very least, every year in which there is not a worldwide pandemic.) We typically offer a convention in the spring and a conference in the fall. The location for the latter is typically Chicago.

Once upon a time, trainer Scott Love of The Attorney Search Group was the keynote speaker at the Top Echelon Network Fall Conference. He was so impressed by the caliber of the recruiters that he met in Chicago that he wrote an article specifically about his experience. The title of that article is “8 Common Characteristics of Big Billers in Recruiting.”

According to the article, successful recruiters:

  1. Are seasoned realists with an optimistic attitude.
  2. Accept full responsibility for their desks.
  3. Are comfortable with achieving at a higher level.
  4. Have a sense of humor.
  5. Are open to new ideas that are “out of the box.”
  6. Are wise enough to know that they don’t know it all.
  7. Have developed a support group with each other.
  8. Are actively seeking to get better.

Click HERE to read more about these eight characteristics of recruiters, courtesy of Scott Love.

This is not to say that agency recruiters are necessarily more qualified or more talented than internal recruiters or corporate recruiters. Many of them are just more comfortable working on a contingency basis and don’t mind not having a steady paycheck. Being an agency or third-party recruiter requires a certain kind of mindset, not to mention a tolerance for uncertainty. (And yes, sometimes unbridled chaos.)

Recruiting success with the right ATS

No matter the qualities, traits, and characteristics you have as a recruiter and no matter if you’re an agency recruiter or an internal recruiter, using the right applicant tracking system or ATS can bring you more success. This is the case regardless of the level of success in which you find yourself—good enough to stay in the profession, a good recruiter, or a great recruiter. No matter the level of success you’re experiencing right now, if you use the right ATS for you and your organization, you can enjoy even more recruiting success.

That’s because the best recruiting software packages help to streamline the recruiting process. Hiring well is all about speed, about sourcing qualified candidates and interviewing and assessing them as quickly as possible. When you source them quickly and assess them quickly, that means you can hire them quickly . . . at least, more quickly than your competition. And that’s the name of the game when it comes to talent acquisition. When you hire A-level players in the job market (or your client hires them), it’s almost like a double-positive. That’s because not only do you have the talent (plus), but your competition doesn’t have the talent (another plus).

But when your competition hires the top talent and your organization does not? That’s right. It’s like a double-negative.

Enhance your characteristics with Top Echelon Software

With Top Echelon’s applicant tracking system, you can streamline your applicant management, hiring, and onboarding. It starts with sourcing and attracting qualified job seekers and candidates through job advertising, social media sharing, and a branded careers page. Then it moves on to screening and selecting the right prospects for your “short list” of potential candidates through the use of pre-screening questions and custom workflows, among other things. It also includes engaging with the candidates on your “short list” and collaborating with the other members of your team during the recruiting and hiring process.

The end result: hiring the best candidate available in the shortest amount of time possible and then onboarding them as quickly as possible so they can start contributing to the organization in a expedited fashion.

That’s the good news. The even better news is that Top Echelon is offering free recruitment software as part of its trial of the software. Even better news is that you’ll have access to nearly all of the software’s features and functionality during the free trial period. The only thing you won’t be able to use is the system’s email marketing capabilities (which you can surely understand).

You can also request a live recruiting software demo of the Top Echelon applicant tracking software and candidate relationship management system. When you request a demo, one of our account executives will show you the dynamic features and functionality of the software and how it can help you become more successful as a recruiter.

And don’t forget to visit Top Echelon’s recruitment software pricing page to see how affordable the software is. Since 1988, Top Echelon has been helping recruiters enjoy more success with our tools and services, and we’re committed to continuing that mission into the future.

Contact Top Echelon Software today to find out more!

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