I was asked recently “What makes a great recruiter?” I tried to limit myself to 2-3 characteristics, but realized that there are at least 11 signs that will tell you that you're working with a top-notch recruiter, particularly if that recruiter is assisting with executive search. Here they are:
1. Your recruiter has an innate desire to learn.
Great recruiters demonstrate they deserve a seat at the executive table within 30 minutes. They’ll study and talk to SMEs in order to really go deep with their assessment and will challenge a standard, well-practiced, and/or rehearsed answer from a candidate. Great recruiters want the real story, not the same one that’s been rehashed 1,000 times.
2. You see no signs of fear.
I’m always proud when I observe a young recruiter who can hold her or his own when assessing executive-level talent. Great recruiters rival the best investigative reporters when it comes to getting the real story.
3. Your recruiter can quickly recall anyone, anything.
A great recruiter has to remember people, places, companies, relationships and nuances that go beyond the reach of LinkedIn or an applicant tracking system. So many candidates have similar backgrounds -- relying on tech alone won’t help a recruiter separate the wheat from the chaff.
4. Your recruiter motivates all-star candidates with great jobs to learn more about the opportunity at your company.
The real art in search is the ability to motivate a best-in-class candidate who isn’t actually looking for a new role to consider change. Most executives are pros at ignoring calls from recruiters. The recruiters who get through and get a prospective candidate’s attention have to know exactly what it takes to get the message across (hint: it’s rarely just a compensation package).
5. Your recruiter doesn't give up.
It can take weeks to reach some prospective candidates. It can take even longer to go from two candidates to a slate of developed candidates. These candidates aren’t just names and resumes -- they know the role, are motivated to learn more and are interested in making a change. A really great recruiter is tenacious and persistent.
6. Your recruiter is just plain smart.
Great recruiters need creativity, logic, and street smarts to find really great candidates and to get them to listen to the clients’ story, and they usually have higher-than-average intellect. The best recruiters also know how to leverage their intelligence to become great networkers, and they try to get relevant market information from each call.
7. Your recruiter's assessments don't confuse A candidates with B candidates.
Great recruiters know how to differentiate between A and B candidates. They don’t try to create As from Bs, which happens too often. This know-how comes from experience, which also helps them develop insightful questions for each prospect.
8. Your recruiter doesn't watch the clock.
Recruiting isn’t a 9-5 job. Period. Great recruiters are always looking for new candidates and keep tabs on the best, even when they’re not conducting a relevant search. Nights and weekends are almost always a must. And 15-minute candidate interviews? Those will never get you the results you’re looking for.
9. Details matter.
Great recruiters don’t settle for short answers and don’t ask questions that get a “yes,” “no,” or “it’s on my resume” response. Details matter in the search business, particularly on the most difficult search assignments. Successful recruiters know how to get them.
10. The candidate reports you read are thorough, informational and interesting.
As a society, we may not have time to read more than a headline today, but hiring companies still need to understand their candidates’ stories. They need to be able to review candidate information whenever, wherever, and feel like they were in the room with the candidate so they understand exactly why candidate A differs from candidate B. In my own firm, this is why I ensure our recruiters are solid writers. Our candidate reports are never just a prose version of a candidate’s resume. We send thorough assessments that help our clients feel like they’ve already met a candidate.
11. The candidates you see are well prepared, confident and think highly of your company, even if they don't get the job.
Finally, a great recruiter is never numbers-driven -- they're people driven. If your recruiter treats ALL candidates with respect, even when the candidate doesn’t return the courtesy, you'll know you have a good one. Recruiters are often the face of the company and it’s their job to ensure that candidates walk away from the experience feeling positive about a company, even if the role is offered to someone else.
Want more insight into what other industry professionals think makes a great recruiter? Read this article published by HuntScanlon.