How to Become a GREAT Recruiter

  By Chris Heinz  |    Monday February 27, 2023

Category: Motivational, Recruiting


It doesn’t matter what title you have:  Executive Recruiter, Director of Talent Acquisition, Internal recruiting specialist, Director of People, or the Grand Puba of all things Talent.  You can go through the motions and just do the “job” of recruiting.  Or…you can work to become a truly GREAT recruiter.

From my vantage point of 25+ years in the industry and being able to consider some of the best recruiters in the world as my friends, I believe I know a thing or two as to what makes a recruiter great.

Being a great recruiter requires a combination of skills, knowledge, and personal attributes. Whether you are a seasoned recruiter with many years under your belt, or just starting out in the industry, there are some key principles you can follow to ensure you excel in the wonderful world of recruiting/talent acquisition!

Let’s explore some of the essential qualities of a successful recruiter, as well as some tips on how to develop and enhance your recruiting skills to be truly GREAT:

Develop a deep understanding of your industry and the job market

The best recruiters are those who have a strong knowledge of the industry they are recruiting for. This means understanding the current trends, challenges, and opportunities in the job market, as well as staying up-to-date with changes and new developments. You should also have a thorough understanding of the job requirements, including the required skills, qualifications, and experience.

The great news is that this knowledge can be a learned trait.  You do not have to come from the industry to master it! 

Build a strong network of contacts and candidates

Great recruiters are those who have a vast network of industry contacts and candidates. This means building relationships with professionals in your industry, potentially attending industry events, and networking through social media. Additionally, you should keep in touch with candidates and maintain contact even if you cannot place them in a role immediately. This will help you develop a reputation as a trusted advisor in your industry.  Technology can be a great assist on this point.  More on that later…

Master the art of communication

The ability to communicate effectively is crucial for any recruiter. You should be able to listen attentively to your candidates and clients and have strong verbal and written communication skills. This includes being able to write compelling job stories, engaging in meaningful conversations with candidates, and negotiating salary and benefits packages.

A key here is to be yourself.  The more you talk and act like a real person, the better your connections.


Develop a keen eye for detail

Great recruiters are those who pay attention to details. This means being able to identify the skills, experience, and qualifications required for a particular job and ensuring that the candidates you recommend match the job specifications, and fit into the company culture. Additionally, you should be able to review resumes and applications for accuracy and completeness and follow up with candidates to obtain additional information if needed.  Not everyone has a good resume.  Through the communication traits mentioned above, a great recruiter dives in deeper to learn the real stories about potential candidates.


Use data to make informed decisions

In today's data-driven world, recruiters need to be able to use data to inform their decisions. This includes tracking the success rates of your placements, measuring the effectiveness of your recruiting strategies, and using data analytics to identify trends in the job market. By using data, you can make informed decisions about which candidates to recommend and which strategies to use to attract the best candidates.


Be proactive and innovative

Great recruiters are always on the lookout for new and innovative ways to attract and retain the best talent. This means being proactive in your search for candidates and using a variety of strategies to reach potential candidates, including social media, job boards, and referrals. Additionally, you should be open to new ideas and willing to take risks in your recruiting strategies.


Provide excellent customer service

As a recruiter, you are not just a provider of candidates, but also a provider of customer service. This means being responsive to your clients' needs, providing feedback and support, and offering advice on hiring strategies. By providing excellent customer service, you can build trust and develop long-term relationships with your clients.


Stay organized and manage your time effectively

Recruiting is a fast-paced, high-pressure job that requires excellent time management skills. You should be able to prioritize your workload, manage multiple projects at once, and be highly organized. This includes maintaining accurate records of your communications with candidates and clients, as well as keeping track of deadlines and other important details.  This will most likely be a combination of several tools, whether that be your database, online calendar, tactical todo list, etc.


Continuously learn

The recruiting industry is constantly evolving, with new tools, technologies, and trends emerging all the time. To be a great recruiter, you need to be committed to continuous learning and development. This means staying up-to-date with the latest recruiting techniques, attending training and development programs, and seeking out new opportunities to expand your knowledge and skills.  The old saying goes, “if you aren’t learning, you’re dying.”


Be adaptable and flexible

Recruiting can be unpredictable, and you need to be able to adapt to changing circumstances and be flexible in your approach. This means being able to pivot quickly when faced with unexpected challenges, adjusting your recruiting strategies as needed, and being able to handle multiple projects and clients at once.


Be ethical and professional

Recruiting is a highly competitive industry, and it can be tempting to cut corners or engage in unethical behavior to gain an advantage. Just don’t!  To be a great recruiter, you need to maintain a high level of professional ethics and integrity at all times. This means being transparent with candidates and clients and always acting in the best interests of your clients and candidates.

To bring it all together, being a great recruiter requires a combination of skills, knowledge, and personal attributes. By developing a deep understanding of your industry, building a strong network of contacts and candidates, mastering the art of communication, and using data to make informed decisions, you can excel in your role as a recruiter. 

Additionally, by being proactive and innovative, providing excellent customer service, and staying organized and managing your time effectively, you can build trust and develop long-term relationships with your clients. Finally, by continuously learning, being adaptable and flexible, and maintaining high ethical and professional standards, you can position yourself as a leader in the recruiting industry.


It doesn’t happen overnight…but it doesn’t take a lifetime, either!  In the famous words of Rob Schneider in The Waterboy…”you can do it!”

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