In today’s difficult hiring market, we hear endless talk about what to look for in candidates. The desire for soft skills, credentials, and communication skills are top of recruiter and hiring managers’ lists of “must haves.” But when it comes to recruiters, do they have the right skill set to make the best hires for your institution?
Some qualities recruiters need are obvious: professionalism, emotional maturity, persistence, and the ability to handle rejection. But other qualities may be overlooked or not considered at all. With unemployment at historic lows, talent shortages affecting all industries, and skills gaps putting the pressure on employers, recruiters are at the forefront of meeting staffing demand. To get the job done, the best recruiters wear many hats.
I’m a people person
Every recruiter has to be a ‘people person,’ but what does that really mean? More than just being an outgoing person, recruiters need an approachable demeanor that makes people want to sit and have a chat. They have to demonstrate a genuine interest in the people they meet — drawing others into conversing, even in tense situations (what’s more nerve-racking than an interview), to tell their story – the good and the bad. The ability to get people comfortable enough to share is a top quality recruiters need.
The old adage, “You have 2 ears and 1 mouth; listen twice as much as you talk” is especially true for recruiters. The interview process is about them, not you. If the recruiter dominates the conversation, what has been learned? A good listener looks for avenues to explore further in the discussion. “You touched on XYZ, tell me more about that,” should be a common interview question, rather than a rarity. A good listener lets awkward pauses go on, knowing the candidate will fill them if you have the patience to wait: the more applicants talk, the more we learn.
I’m in sales
That’s correct, recruiters are sales representatives. The other side of the interview process, particularly in this tight market, is selling the candidate on your company. As more companies compete for top talent, the ability to put your institution at the top of an applicant’s wish list means more than planning to send a nicely worded offer letter. Every communication, from the first resume response to an offer, is an opportunity to pitch your brand and ‘sell’ the candidate on working for you. If your recruiter isn’t boasting about what a great place this is to work, you can be sure your competition’s recruiter is.
I’m in communications
Outstanding verbal and written communication skills are a must for recruiters. They have the opportunity to present your institution as one that values talent and skills, or one that allows sloppily worded emails and offer letters to make it through the pipeline. When a single employee is the first representation of your company to a potential new hire, their communication skills must be impeccable.
I’m in organizational management
Few employees in your company need strong organizational skills more than recruiters. They spend their time meeting with a variety of people at a mix of levels about an assortment of open positions, and they have to keep it all straight. They are juggling schedules: theirs, candidates, department heads and others. They’re organizing background checks, drug testing, verifying credentials, and beyond. They’re doing follow-up on interviews, 2nd interviews, offer letters, and a host of pre- and post-interview duties. Without strong organizational abilities, recruiters can’t keep everything running smoothly.
I’m in IT
With all the technology available to move the hiring process forward, recruiters need strong IT skills. Managing applicant tracking systems, sourcing social and professional media sites for candidates, juggling scheduling software and working with others’ calendars is just the tip of the iceberg. Recruiters need to be well-versed in the software and apps that are the tools of their trade. Again, if they’re not, the competition will be. With so many institutions looking to decrease time-to-hire, technology is a must. Being able to leverage tech effectively is becoming a recruiter ‘must have’ skill.
I’m a matchmaker
More than just looking for a great candidate, a good recruiter looks to make connections within a team or workgroup. As more businesses realize that culture fit may be as much an arbiter of success as skills, the ability to match people who will complement each other is key. We’re not looking for homogenous work groups; we aren’t looking to disrupt either. Good recruiters look for the balance between, looking past the initial hire to the long-term success of the candidate.
Even with all the responsibilities a recruiter holds, the payoff can be great. There aren’t many jobs more satisfying than starting someone off in a new job or a career that just might just change his or her life.