In order to attract top talent to your organization it is imperative that you have a top-notch recruiting team in place. I often wonder if organizations realize just how important recruiting is to the success of an organization. If an organization does not have the very best recruiting team in place, it can be at a severe competitive disadvantage. The recruiting function is the key driving force in ensuring the right hires made and less than desirable hires are avoided.
I felt the need to write this piece because I think organizations need to focus more time and effort on assessing potential recruiters. Organizations need to move beyond seeing the recruiter as someone who solely serves a transactional purpose and instead view the recruiter as someone who can have a powerful transformational impact.
Over the years I have heard candidates tell me one recruiting nightmare after another and it has pained me to hear these stories. I myself have also had some less than favorable recruiting experiences and from these experiences I have learned what not to do as a recruiter.
On a positive note, I have had the opportunity to both work with, and learn from, some truly amazing recruiters. Compiling all of these experiences and data points helped me devise this list of traits I think are important to consider when assessing potential recruiters for your team.
1) Hire individuals who are more than mere resume pushers – Resume pushers send large numbers of resumes to hiring managers without even bothering to screen the candidates. The hiring manager is then left having to do all the work. When a recruiter is a resume pusher, they are not doing his/her job and are definitely not a value-add to the organization. The best recruiters serve as consultants or partners to the business. These recruiters perform due diligence in sourcing candidates, screening candidates, and providing in-depth candidates summaries to hiring managers. If recruiters are consultants versus resume pushers, they will be respected by both candidates and hiring managers.
2) Hire individuals who will be evangelists for your organization – If a recruiter isn’t excited about working for your organization, how can the recruiter get a candidate excited, or at least interested in working for your organization? Candidates often ask the question, “Why should I work for this organization?” If a recruiter can’t give a genuine enthusiastic answer for this question to candidates, you don’t have the right recruiter on-board. As a recruiter you should be able to easily sell your organization to a candidate. You should truly believe in the statement, “I love working for this organization! This is the best organization to work for because of X, Y, Z reasons.”
3) Hire recruiters with a competitive spirit – The very best recruiters are extremely driven and have a strong desire to win. Recruiting can be quite competitive, especially when dealing with highly desirable candidates. As a recruiter at Microsoft I often compete against companies such as Amazon and Google for top talent. When a candidate informed me he or she was also in process with some of these big name players, I get an adrenaline rush because I knew securing the candidate will be a challenge. If recruiters lack this inner competitiveness, they may just allow top candidates to slip away without doing everything in their power to get the candidate.
4) Hire hunters versus farmers – In order to hire top talent for your organization, you need recruiters who will do more than just wait for candidates to submit their resumes on-line. The best candidates are often passive candidates. In order to find these passive candidates, recruiters must go on the hunt for these candidates by cold calling, networking, sourcing, and maintaining long-term relationships with candidates. If recruiters just sit back and wait for resumes to come along, they are missing out on potential A+ candidates.
5) Hire individuals who can serve as consultants to the business – At Microsoft I work with some of the most talented and successful recruiters I have ever met. The reason these recruiters stand out is because they know the business and, as a result, hiring managers and candidates respect them. In order for recruiters to be true consultants, they need to take the time to learn the business. This means spending time learning from hiring managers, reading up on the business, attending presentations, and analyzing the strengths and weaknesses of competitors in the same market.
6) Hire individuals who are passionate about recruiting – When recruiters are passionate about what they do, they often go above and beyond in their jobs. Actually passionate recruiters don’t even see recruiting as a job, they see recruiting as something they love to do, whether they are working or not. The passionate recruiters I have encountered have this positive energy that is contagious. You just know they are successful because of a love for what they do.
7) Hire individuals with a high level of emotional intelligence – Individuals with a high level of emotional intelligence standout because they can easily build relationships with just about anyone. From my experience, recruiting is all about relationship building, both with candidates and hiring managers. Individuals with a high EQ tend to figure out how to connect with people on a personal level, which helps tremendously when you are trying to fully assess someone’s fit for an organization and a specific role within the organization. A high EQ serves a recruiter well because it gives a person an ability to see beyond the obvious and use strong intuition and other soft skills to provide additional feedback on candidates.
8) Hire courageous individuals – The best recruiters I have met are willing to stand up for their decisions about candidates, even if the rest of the interview team disagrees with them. As a recruiter, it’s important you have an opinion and are willing to make a case for it. You may not always be right, but at least you had the courage to stand by your decision. Also, when it comes to negotiating offers with candidates, a recruiter needs to be confident and firm. If there is no flexibility with the offer and the candidate is pushing back, the recruiter needs to inform the candidate, “This is the very best offer for these reasons.”
9) Hire strong communicators – As a recruiter, your primary responsibility is to communicate regularly with your candidates and hiring managers. Early on in my career, a former boss once said it’s always best to err on the side of over communicating. This advice has stuck with me throughout my career and I am grateful to have received it. My rule of thumb is to never allow more than a week to pass without providing an update to candidates and hiring managers. I have heard of recruiters never getting back to candidates after on-site interviews. Here a candidate takes time off work, possibly even flies to another state for the interview, then never hears the results of the interview. Whether or not you have good news, bad news, or no news, it is your job to keep an ongoing dialogue with candidates and hiring managers. Top-notch recruiters are proactive in their communications and never keep the candidates and hiring managers wondering what is going on.
Colleen Canney is a Technical Recruiter and Career Coach based in Seattle, WA. For more information on Colleen, please visit her website at: www.colleencanney.com