Recruiters share examples of the actions and attitudes that make separate good from great.

The way in which we attract and retain top talent is in a constant state of evolution. There are different methods, techniques and philosophies that guide processes for each recruiter. Knowing that every person is unique, we wanted to learn the main characteristics of a great recruiter. How do they behave? Is it a personality type or distinct motivations?

We interviewed a few of the recruiters at Talent Solvers to hear what they believe separates a good recruiter from a great recruiter. Learn why they said great recruiters always:

They always place long-term relationships over short-term gain.

The best clients I’ve worked with have often been the most challenging at times. We work on a contingency model, only getting paid if we successfully place a candidate in a new role, but it’s essential for me to keep the long-term partnership in mind before recommending any talent to a client.

Our relationship with a software startup in Chicago is a great example that speaks to the impact of this approach. Typically, we’ll hunt through a few hundred contacts and send the top 3-6 candidates to fill an open role. The first role we had the opportunity to fill for this company required us to send more than 20 candidates to find that perfect “unicorn” individual.

We could have moved on to easier roles with another client, and yes, we would’ve made more money in the short-term but we took the time to continue digging until we found the exact mix of experience, skills and culture fit they were seeking. For me this big picture perspective is what separates a good recruiter from a great one.

Four years later we’ve matched more than 50 new employees in that same company. If we’d prioritized short-term gain we wouldn’t have proven our level of dedication to finding the right talent and building that long-term partnership.

When helping a person find that new opportunity, I think about the seriousness of this responsibility. Often, they’re leaving a current position, and I have to be 100% sure that what I’m offering them aligns with where they’d like to grow, professionally. Otherwise, they’ll be looking for a new gig again in no time and my long-term relationship both with them and the client will suffer.

Understanding the significance of this and truly valuing the relationship between those you partner with means putting long-term goals ahead of short-term gain. It means working with openness and transparency. It means listening a lot, going beyond the surface of a role (e.g. salary, title) and really getting into the intrinsic, deep motivators that drive interest in a job change.

Taking the time to fully understand the roles, the companies and the talent requires time and dedication. Sometimes, I won’t be able to fill positions as quickly or help talent find the exact role they want today. But to me, there’s no other way to do this job. And, I believe the people who remain partnered with us year after year recognize this.

They practice active listening and are inherently empathetic.

It seems simple, but one complaint I’ve heard time and time again is about recruiters who aren’t attentive to the needs, wants and goals of the role. So many candidates tell me they’ve been pushed into roles before that weren’t the right fit. Clients tell me horror stories about receiving a flood of resumes for a role where the talent didn’t align with their needs.

A big part of what separates a good recruiter from a great one is active listening. Having empathy, curiosity and genuine interest in the candidates goals and wants. Great recruiters take the time to fully understand the role and know how to look beyond checkboxes to matchmake talent with opportunities.

An important aspect to being a good recruiter is actively listening to your candidate. By taking an active part in listening to what they have to say, you're able to understand what their wants and needs are when they are looking for their next career step. This is critical to providing them with the best opportunity rather than just “selling” them on what you already have. Empathy is important in understanding a candidate’s feelings towards a company, job, or person. Recognizing how they feel will help you to understand what they are looking to get out of a new position. By actively listening and showing empathy while talking with your candidates, you build rapport and long lasting relationships.

A career change can be a life-changing event in a person’s life… by continuously showing empathy and active listening, you gain the candidate’s respect and they will come back to you the next time they are looking for a new job.

Listening to clients and candidates is the single most important aspect of a recruiting role. Every interaction that you have with someone provides more and more insight into exactly what they’re looking for. It is the recruiter's responsibility to take each “nugget” of information and piece it together to build a complete picture for clients and candidates needs, finding the perfect fit for everyone.

Active listening is a fundamental imperative to great recruiting. Only once you’ve fully absorbed what a candidate has accomplished and their aspirations for the future can you begin to piece together how to help them take that next step. Everyone has different goals and the fact that I can be the person who helps them get one step closer to those goals is a reward in itself. What might work for one person isn’t always going to work for another. Great recruiters take the time to get to know the candidate to get them where they want to go.

Good recruiters might walk through the job at hand and align that with the years of experience an individual has. A great recruiter takes the time to listen, understand, consult and guide talent into opportunities where they will be the best version of themselves.

You can’t help a candidate hit their goals until you really, deeply understand what those goals are! That’s why it’s so critical to take time and get to know each and every person you speak to.

People are deep and incredibly unique. There is so much more than what you see on that piece of paper. When I started in the industry, I’ll be honest, I did a lot of “selling” on roles. Too much. Actually, way too much.

But, now that I’ve been around the block, it’s obvious to me that nobody wins from that. The evolution of an attitude from “selling” to actively listening has allowed me to genuinely help folks transition not just to the next role, but the RIGHT next role. It’s a game changer. For everyone: the candidate, the client and myself!

Active listening is extremely important in great recruiting. 70% of workers are considered “passive candidates” - i.e. they’re not looking for a new job. This means the vast majority of recruiting efforts involve convincing someone who is comfortable in their job to make a change.

How can you do that unless you understand the person and what’s important to them? What motivates them and would benefit them in a new position? Listening and understanding allows great recruiters to align candidates with roles that they’re thrilled to take on. Those that deliver the most long-term value for candidates and clients alike.

They have a willingness to go above and beyond what’s expected.

I wholeheartedly believe that great recruiters have both a willingness and an internal need to go above and beyond for everyone they work with. At Talent Solvers, one of our core competencies is that we are "people first people.” To us, this means that we put relationships first and strive to provide the best possible service to both clients and candidates alike. Our clients expect us to find a candidate to fill a void and our candidates expect us to find them the next step in their career, but we want to do more than that.

Zappos CEO, Tony Hseih says, “in business you must do something that’s above and beyond what’s expected.” For Zappos, that was creating a “customer obsessed” culture. For us, it’s maintaining a “people obsessed” culture. One where we surprise and delight by how much we truly care about the people behind the resumes.

For me, I want to receive calls and texts from candidates after work hours. I always want to make it known that I am here 24/7 to talk about whatever it is they need. Every candidate is special to me in different ways whether they are trying to obtain an entry-level sales role or moving into a Director position from a Manager.

When it comes to the client, of course I always want to send the best talent, but that’s not really above and beyond. I find that picking up on the extra things that clients may not know they need can make a world of a difference. A great recruiter is a true consultant to their clients. They can advise on compensation, retention strategies, market trends or interview best practices. They care about the small details. The little things that separate you from being somebody who helps clients fill a role vs. somebody who is a client’s long-term hiring and growth partner.

One such example I can think of is on a recent search that had proven difficult. We sent over a higher than normal volume of talent but none of them ended up being hired. We decided to send over a report of these efforts including the number of people we’d reached out to, number of candidates pitched on the phone, the number of resumes we had provided, etc.

Ultimately the numbers put things into perspective for the client. The candidates we sent over were certainly qualified and but not exactly what they had envisioned. A discussion of the market conditions and what we learned through our efforts allowed them to see they were already speaking with the most qualified people for the position. While it was more work on our part, it was worth it to help them find the right hire and strengthen our partnership.

Going above and beyond is simply what great recruiters do. The candidates I find usually aren’t actively looking for a new job. And, at Talent Solvers, we don’t post our jobs online praying for the right resumes to come in. Instead, each person we talk to is hand-selected and we work to provide them with the best experience possible.

This applies to our relationships with clients as well. We could send over resumes in mass, which would make our jobs easier, but that wouldn’t gain us their respect or their business. We want to find top talent and present a select few candidates to the client. To me, this is going above and beyond, finding the perfect fit for both the candidate and client, no matter how long it takes.

Great recruiters are in it for the long term and that means creating partnerships, deep partnerships. We hear from our clients all the time that what we do is really not just an extension of their brand, but an extension of their company!

When you have the mindset that you’re not just transactional partners, but critical components of each other’s success, the conversation changes. It goes from “let’s try to close a deal,” to “how can we make sure this person/team has everything they need to be insanely successful.” With that kind of relationship, you always find a way to go the extra mile.

They focus on continuous self-improvement.

Self-improvement is always at the top of my list. I am learning everyday what methods are attributing to success and which ones are better to ditch. I find that authenticity is key! I love that I can show my personality to candidates all while ensuring that I am doing everything I can to fulfill their needs, as well as the needs of the client. Building relationships is my favorite part of recruiting and any way that I can improve the level of trust between myself and a candidate gets me excited!

What worked yesterday does not always work today. It’s one of the core values of our company here at Talent Solvers: we’re curious, we experiment. We’re constantly looking for new and better ways to connect great talent with great companies, or ways to stir up old ideas and put a new face on them. To me, great recruiters are never satisfied or content. They’re always looking for how they can be better versions of themselves to help those they interact with.

I think it’s important for a great recruiter to keep learning more and more about their clients and job openings. Knowing the ins and outs of what you’re working on will make you more confident and capable when pitching roles and help position yourself as a “trusted advisor” to candidates. It requires time and effort with the client but is an easy way to stand out from your peers!

Interested in learning how Talent Solvers can help take your recruiting efforts from good to great? Reach out below for a chat!

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