I’ve had the luxury of working with some phenomenal IT recruiters over the past 17 years. I’ve also had the misfortune of working with a few who just didn’t bring the professionalism or the skill necessary to be successful in this industry. So that begs the question: “What does a recruiter need to possess within him/herself to be successful to not only bring value to my clients, but also value to the candidates searching for new career opportunities?” Here is a list of what I believe covers most of what I see as the value of top notch recruiters and what makes top recruiters extremely successful.
1. Relationship Building
I cannot stress enough what this means to me as an Account Manager and the confidence it gives me upon submitting resumes to my clients when they are coming from these recruiters. No one recruiter has the same personality, so it’s not a matter of a great personality, but a matter of the recruiter’s ability to build trust. To let the candidates know that he/she cares about their possible career move, their family situation if discussed by the candidate, the reasons they want to make a change, their value in the market place regarding salary, and the competition out there against them in a certain role. A lot of the criteria that follows in this list piggyback off the ability to build relationships. Sometimes these relationships, especially in the consulting roles, are friendships that last for many years resulting in back-to-back projects. This ability is what makes recruiting crucial in this industry and should make a candidate’s job search much less stressful knowing they have someone in their corner rather than submitting multiple resumes online and never hearing any feedback. Following up after interviews and giving feedback to these candidates, whether good or bad, is necessary to build this trust and to help them find the right career path.
2. Screening Candidates
This is crucial as well and also is rather dependent upon the relationships recruiters have with these candidates. A recruiter has to have the ability to decipher whether or not this person is a good technical fit, personality fit, salary fit, etc. A big part of their job is to often talk a candidate out of an opportunity after they realize they’re not a great match overall. All candidates are going to try and oversell themselves. A good recruiter can see through that in the screening process and have to honestly let these candidates know that they are not a good fit and that they will be considered for other opportunities. Many recruiters will throw a bunch of candidates at a client hoping one of them sticks. This is not effective, and in my opinion, makes the relationship suffer. It is better to be honest up front, do the ethical thing, and let the candidates know they need to look for different opportunities than the one being discussed.
3. Finding the “Passive Candidate”
This is harder than it used to be years ago but is still crucial. With websites like LinkedIn, etc., it seems everybody is a candidate and has their name out there. But this is not always the case. There are ways to find these passive candidates that may not have built a resume for years but have been thinking about a job change for quite some time. We’ll touch on these in the next portion of this list. Hiring managers love seeing fresh resumes. They see the same resumes day in and day out and it is very refreshing to them to see a resume with a solid background and a name they have not yet seen, especially in the same industry. Many times this passive candidate is appealing because they have been at the same job for multiple years and would never be considered a “job hopper”. That is also why the relationship building is so important here as these candidates are often hesitant at the start to make a change but confidence builds as that relationship builds and they realize there are opportunities for growth out there that they didn’t even know about.
4. Getting Great Referrals
Due to a recruiter having great relationship building skills, this brings an important part of the equation forward. A good referral is also often a “passive candidate”. This beats any cold call, LinkedIn search, etc. These referrals already have a relationship with your previous candidate. So in essence, an element of trust is already built. A recruiter who has the ability to get referrals will always be successful in this line of work. It builds a network of solid candidates more quickly than any other avenue. This involves a lot of phone time, not online time, in my opinion. This is more the old school way of recruiting I was taught and it works. It will always work. Ample phone time is always crucial in this business, even if that means making calls on weekends and late hours in order to reach the candidate at a time they are comfortable to talk.
5. Finding a Range of Candidates
This helps not only my clients, but also me as an Account Manager. If an IT Director gives me a position at 50K salary, he/she needs to know what they are getting at that salary. Often times I will show them a resume of someone a recruiter gives me at 50K and point out where they fit and where at that salary they may fall short. A solid recruiter will find me a candidate, let’s say at 60K, and show the difference in what a client can get with just an additional 10K in salary. At this point, it’s up to the client to decide if it’s worth the additional salary for this position. This either results in a client raising the salary or knocking a few “musts” off the job description if budget says they have to stay at the original salary.
6. Interview Preparation
A good recruiter is going to know how to prep their candidate for an interview based on what he/she knows about the client. Every client is different and it’s my job to tell these recruiters up front what quirks may be involved with a hiring manager, the company environment, etc. No candidate should go into an interview winging it or unprepared.
7. Locking Down a Candidate
Recruiters should always make it very clear at the beginning what the salary is for the client. It should be told to the candidate that if they were to give a salary request, that it’s honest and the salary they would accept. Should the candidate come back and ask for more, it’s a good possibility they will be eliminated immediately. Too many times we’ve seen a candidate who tries this. They will give one salary number only to raise the number after the interview. This is where all trust is broken and I believe a recruiter should move on to another candidate. This falls into the discussion of possible counter offers as well. A candidate should be locked down up front before the interview where a recruiter has a 100 percent confidence that if an offer is given at a certain number, that it is accepted. I’d like to say this always happens, but some situations don’t always pan out that way. But, it’s the recruiter’s job to make sure this is eliminated almost completely from all scenarios.
8. Following Up
Last but not least, a recruiter always needs to follow up on both consulting and permanent positions. Make a call to the hired candidate to make sure all is going well and that they are happy in their new position to make sure no unexpected things pop up that jeopardize their new employment. This continues the trust factor and could result in them needing this recruiter again, or could result in additional referrals in the future.
In conclusion, there are MANY parts to the equation of what makes a great recruiter. I’m sure I’ve missed quite a few, but these listed are very important to me as an Account Manager. This solid recruiter will always be a valuable source to all candidates and clients if they have these skills. It makes it enjoyable to work with them because it builds an enormous trust between recruiter and Account Manager. I really have been very fortunate over the years to not only have phenomenal recruiters working with me, but also recruiters that have made it a career with this company and didn’t become the “passive candidate” or the job hunter themselves.
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