Top Ten Traits of the Best Recruiters

By Peter Cotton, founder and president, Best Sales Talent, LLC

Sometimes it’s a good idea – no matter what industry you’re in or what job you have – to take a step back and double check you’re doing it right.  Kind of like a litmus test — it’s always beneficial to know if you’re making strides towards being the best you can be and if you have what it takes or not.  Also, if you improve your game, it only further helps and improves your colleagues, teams and customers in the long run.

So, I invite you to take a quick walk through with me on what the top ten traits are of the “best” recruiters.  I may have a plethora of client and candidate testimonials, but I’m always on the hunt to find out what I can do better.  I’m sure that you’ll agree that it’s always good to be better at what you do.

Now, I’m not going to just come up with the top traits on my own – that could be biased, so we will take Forbes’ Career Contributor Jack Kelly‘s recent list (I have put his thoughts in quotes and bolded them below), published at the beginning of September:

  1. “He or she is someone who will listen to you.”

I wholeheartedly agree with this first one.  There are many people out there – including your own loved ones and friends – who pretend to be listening to you. The best recruiters will not only listen, but also will ask you follow up questions to prove that they were really listening when you spoke about your dream job or dream candidate.  I personally know how critical this is.  If I don’t really listen to you, then I cannot understand you as a person.  And if that’s the case, how can I find you a job that fits into your long-term career goals? Or a candidate that definitely will improve your company’s bottom line?

  1. “A great recruiter will have an in-depth, intimate knowledge of your industry.”

I think this is true, but I would add that a top recruiter will have an intimate knowledge of the client company and hiring manager that you will face at your job interview. They will have spent a lot of time with the client, either on the phone, if a distance away, or in person.   This shows that the recruiter did more than just his/her “baseline” homework.  The top recruiter will know what companies would be the best fit for you, without you having to describe your job and your industry.  Additionally, the top recruiter already knows the key players to introduce you to and who to not waste your time speaking with.  What’s more?  They can share insider information with you about your industry that you may not even have heard yet.

A great recruiter also will understand your specific profession.  For instance, I specialize in finding and placing people in sales, sales management and marketing roles.  I was in corporate sales and sales management before I became a recruiter. So, one may say that I “speak the language of sales.”  Other recruiters may have been in finance, IT, engineering, or manufacturing.  They understand those professions and can “speak the language” of those candidates and employers.

  1. “The recruiter is available when you need them.”

This is key.  I personally take great pride in being there for clients and candidates alike.  It is not uncommon for me to immediately respond to emails, and I always have my cell phone on me.  I frequently speak to clients and candidates at night and on the weekends. Also, I’m not going to have you repeat your whole story, I remember who you are, so you won’t have to waste any time when getting in touch with me.

  1. “They will offer feedback and constructive criticism throughout the interview process.”

This is not always the easiest part of my job, but it has to be done. Top recruiters will gently tell you how to be better – whether you’re a candidate interviewing for a job or a client working your way through the interview and hiring process.  You want a recruiter who is on your team and assists you in doing better – not someone who gives you false praises.

  1. “In addition to the feedback, a stellar recruiter will be honest with you.”

Like #4 above, a top recruiter will tell you if your dream job or dream salary isn’t realistic. They also will tell a client that they are unrealistic about us finding a “purple squirrel” for them.

  1. “When the job is right, a good recruiter will fight for you.”

I like this one, because it gives you a sense of the top recruiter really having your back.  For example, he/she will be professional while still negotiating a salary.  Keep in mind, though, if you’re the candidate, you don’t want to be too demanding. It’s the client who pays the recruiter, not the candidate.

  1. “A good recruiter will be a cheerleader and encourage you to achieve your goals.”

Being a client’s or candidates’ “cheerleader” is a way to describe it.  The best recruiter will pump you up so you can be as confident as possible for interviews.  If you don’t win over the client or candidate, the top recruiter will work with you to ensure it won’t happen again.  If you have any hesitations, the recruiter will be on your side to work through them.

  1. “Also, a great recruiter will know when to pull back and not push you.”

I wouldn’t want to be a pest if you need more time to decide on offering a job if you’re a client or accepting a job if you’re a candidate.  A top recruiter will make sure he/she is working on your timeline and not be self-serving with their own personal priorities.  The best recruiter understands the client and candidate each have the right to walk away during the interview process.

  1. “A great recruiter won’t give you sleazy sales pitches, and only share solid appropriate jobs that you would be interested in and are relevant to your experience, background and that offer growth potential and the money you seek.”

If the recruiter rushes through a very brief and incomplete description, it’s probably because they are trying to fit you into what positions they are aware are open, or the employer has not given them sufficient information.  Even if the company is one you know of and would like to work for, be careful.  Incomplete information is a red flag. If you take the job you will later find out the things you wish you knew before the interview and before you said yes to their offer. The same applies to presentations of candidates to employer clients.  A rushed, incomplete description of a candidate is a red flag, too.

  1. “A remarkable recruiter will forge a relationship for the long run.”

I have repeat “customers” – clients who come back to me looking for new employees or candidates who come back to me after being in their current job for awhile and needing advice on taking an internal promotion.  I’m in the relationship for the “long haul,” just as any top recruiter is.  Recruiters can be all sorts of things to a candidate and a client.  Check out my blog post that explains it here.

I hope the above list gives you a good idea of what to look for when selecting a recruiter.  Do you have any more traits to add, or any that you disagree with?  If so, I’d love to hear them.  Shoot me an email or give me a call at (401) 737-3200.