What do I need to know to start working as a recruiter?
To answer this question, we reached out to the top experts in the world of recruiting and asked them a simple question.
What is the most important single piece of advice you would give to a new recruiter at the start of their career?
22 amazing people responded. Thank you!
“At the root of any frustrations between employers and employees is a fundamental lack of honesty: both sides end up over-promising, and under-delivering. Recruiters are at the forefront of this – they are one of the first lines to authenticity. If your employees aren’t living your culture the way your marketing collateral says they are, then you’re propositioning candidates with a bait-and-switch relationship…and setting them (and your business) up for failure. Brave recruiters will take notice of those gaps and insist on rectifying them – either by helping to align the culture or helping to change the message.”
“Today’s recruiters need to realize that recruiting is still about being human. Don’t hide behind technology to do your job, embrace it and leverage it to make you a better recruiter. If you want to become good at your job, always be learning. Seek out recruiting mentors and become both an asset and advocate for your clients and candidates.”
“Decide as quickly as you can whether recruiting is a job or a career. If the former your incentive is in front of you every day matching bodies and seats. No judgment, it’s an honest craft and those who do it well are handsomely rewarded. If the latter is your choice, it will take a lifetime to master but your satisfaction will be in seeing the lives you change for the better in a profession you can be proud of.”
“A strong recruiter is a strong connector and relationship builder, and in order to do those two things well, they need to develop a robust network. Effective networking is more than just calling people up and asking “who do you know”. The best networkers/recruiters are people who think about who they already know when a need comes up – not just to fill one of their positions – and then connects others. In my experience, those who give without expecting anything in return, eventually get more than they gave. Help others, always be on the lookout for how you can connect others, and then when you have the perfect position for someone, or for someone that a person in your network knows, then you’ll be able to engage them in that conversation easily, and make a great match.”
“I have 3 closely related pieces of advice. 1) Don’t look at a requirement on face value alone. 2) Take time to understand company culture. 3) Take time to understand your candidates. You’ll be given a list of attributes to find and be asked to match them with appropriate candidates, but there is a much deeper level to a great hire than simply checking boxes. Every company culture is different and complex (because all human beings are different and complex). Time spent understanding a company and its unwritten rules is always time well spent. A great place to start is to get face-to-face with hiring managers and the team your successful candidate will be working with. This rule also goes for candidates. Figuring out whether a candidate has a certain set of skills is the easy part; finding out where they will fit and thrive is the difficult part.”
“#BeHuman. Somewhere along the way we’ve lost the people element of recruiting, which is crazy considering that this is a people business! So aside from being curious, which is my second piece of advice, always remember that we are impacting someone’s life. They are not a placement, a fee, a resource, a talent, a candidate, or anything other than a human being. So treat every single person with the exact amount of kindness and respect you would want when making a life changing decision and you’ll be amazed at how rewarding your career in recruitment will become.”
Kevin W. Grossman
“Understand that no matter what, we’re all perpetual job candidates, including the new recruiter who just got his or her first recruiting job. This means we’re all looking for, at a minimum, two things: acknowledgement and closure. Acknowledgement that candidates are interested in my company and my jobs, and then ensuring that candidates get closure, especially if they’re being rejected at any point in the process. Anything above and beyond that with setting better expectations and investing in consistent communications and feedback loops is a win for the business bottom line.”
“Your network is everything. Whether you’re internal or external, every single conversation you have should give you more credibility. Start small and focused, look to add value above and beyond a placement and become a trusted advisor. Your goal should be to become that person people call on for career advice.”
“Know the job! If you don’t know the actual work the person needs to be done, you’re just a gatekeeper. You’ll have no trust with the hiring manager and you’ll never be able to engage with passive candidates or get referrals of other top passive candidates. Furthermore, without some domain expertise, you won’t be able to accurately interview the candidate.”
“Recruitment is a PEOPLE business. Don’t get sidetracked by the technology (important as it is), don’t get distracted by an obsession over KPIs, don’t get despondent when candidates or clients change their minds. Build relationship with people, communicate well and never be afraid to pick up the phone.”
“The single most important piece of advice I would give to a recruiter just starting out is to know that there’s no single right way or one size fits all approach to hiring, so do what works for you, not what you think you should be doing. Find your own style and remember you will change jobs and employers, but you’ve got to be consistently you throughout your entire recruiting career, so you might as well be a bad ass.”
“The best thing you can do for your recruiting career is to build your network. A strong network is a gift you build for yourself, and one that you will appreciate now and for years to come. But, don’t build it in a sleazy, superficial way. Think of your network as a garden that needs watering and care. Ask yourself: who are the people, inside and outside of my organization, that I should get to know? Now, go meet them.”
Stacy Donovan Zapar
“My number one piece of advice is to never stop learning or trying new things. This industry is constantly changing and it’s important to be open to new technologies, new methods and experimenting to see what works best as needs change. Be a constant student and you’ll never be obsolete!”
“One, there aren’t any experts in recruiting – only people who have made the mistakes you’ve yet to make. My friends, no matter how many years of experience they have, are ALWAYS learning. Two, the job description is rarely the real job; always press for specific performance details in terms of what is “success”. Above all, look into joining ATAP, the Association for Talent Acquisition Professionals”
The Recruiting Animal
“No recruiter wants to hear this, because it’s the hard work of recruiting, but never stop picking up the phone and calling people. Apparently, people no longer like getting calls in today’s world, but please show me a person who accepted a job without first talking to someone about that job and details! Would you accept a job without ever speaking with someone from the company? No, you wouldn’t. So, pick up the phone. Keep picking up the phone. When all else fails, and it will, and you’ll try, go pick up the fucking phone! Every single successful recruiter I’ve ever worked with had one single trait in common. They made more outgoing calls then every other recruiter on the team.”
“I would give recruiters who are just starting out two key pieces of advice. The first is to find out who the top billers are in the company and then try to spend time with those people, shadow them, soak up their advice. You want the things that they do to become second nature – or at least to rub off on you. The second piece of advice would be to network extensively – and to do so in a way that seeks nothing in return but that just looks to build relationships. If you have more relationships and stronger relationships than other recruiters in your industry, you’ll always have an edge”