Decoding The DNA Of Great Recruiters (Part I)

Guest Blog: Lars Schmidt

I’ve spent the fifteen years in recruiting leadership roles, hiring dozens of recruiters over that time. Some turned out to be exceptional, others never quite lived up to expectations. So, what makes a great recruiter? How do we identify those exceptional talents that will make a difference for our teams and our organizations?

Recruiting has evolved dramatically over the past five years. Recruiters need to have a diverse set of skills to make a real impact. As the job market continues to pick up, the demand for recruiters will continue to rise. It’s hard enough to find good recruiters, but finding great recruiters will be a true test.

Rather than focus on the individual, let’s focus on the traits that make them exceptional – their recruiting DNA. Understanding the qualities great recruiters need to possess in today’s market will help you develop an interview process that can screen and explore these qualities, and make better hiring decisions when building your recruiting team.

Ability To Influence

I’m not referring to self-professed Rockstars and Gurus. That’s not what I want when building a recruiting team. I’m talking about recruiters who work to build tight relationships with all of their constituents, and work hard to build credibility that puts them in a position of authority. Great recruiters have over-developed consultative genes. They understand to be successful they have to have great relationships with their hiring managers, client groups, peers, candidates, and other departments – all of them.


Data fluency and the ability to build a data-based recruitment strategy is the future of recruiting. If having credibility with your executive team is your main event, data is your key to admission. Top recruiters can build data-based talent pool assessments on given roles and markets, and present that data to inform hiring decisions before a requisition is even written. That’s how you become a trusted adviser to your business.


Recruiting is a role like no other. We work with human beings considering weighty life changes every day. We make (and at times break) dreams. Recruiters are the face of your organization, and the vanguard of your employer branding efforts. How they treat your applicants can elevate or tarnish your brand in a single interaction. Great recruiters gets this. They never lose touch with the humanity of recruiting, and treat everyone they engage with the respect s/he deserve.


Exceptional recruiters understand that following the herd isn’t the best way to make an impact. They’re creative, willing to take (calculated) risks. Particularly in the area of Employer Branding where there is no playbook. They see opportunities where others don’t. The above traits enable them to make a compelling case inside their organization to get their ideas green-lit. Some of their ideas will fail, but they’re smart enough that they’ll learn what went wrong and incorporate those learnings into future campaigns.


There are many parallels between recruiting and sales. What trait do most great salespeople possess? Drive. They’re tenacious in their pursuit of new business. They live for the close. Great recruiters do too. Exceptional recruiters possess the motivation to run with little direction. You don’t need to manage them by traditional recruiting metrics. Their results speak for them. They have a hustle honed over years of experience, and an relentless focus on continual improvement.


This trait is a relatively new strain of recruiter DNA. It’s driven by the prevalence of social media, and the evolution that’s taken place around digital recruiting. In competitive hiring markets, recruiters need to be creative and clever with how they market their jobs. Post and pray has gone the way of traditional job boards. Great recruiters can use their marketing skills to develop multi-channel, targeted recruiting strategies that cut through the clutter, reach, and compel candidates to action.


The pace of innovation is accelerating rapidly. Recruiters have new tools at their disposal that didn’t exist only a year ago. Great recruiters keep an eye on these trends, ensuring they can intelligently advocate for that game-changing technology that can make a difference in their company’s hiring efforts.


This trait speaks to the desire to learn. As referenced above the innovation curve is growing at an accelerating pace. I don’t just mean technology. With social media fueling a share economy, there is an abundance of information available that can help your recruiting efforts. Best practices, research, white papers – all just a click away. Exceptional recruiters must be curious and driven to self-educate and regularly tap into this knowledge to grow their own skills (and share what they learn with their team).


My favorite interview question for recruiters – why do you recruit? The answer to this question helps me get a feel for their passion for the field. Why is this important? Recruiting is hard. Hiring Managers are demanding. Candidates you were certain were closed fall out. Projects get derailed. Great recruiters have a passion for their craft that will help them overcome these obstacles. They light up when they talk about successful searches, and it’s contagious. You want recruiters who are passionate about what they do on your team. If they’re in the right role, their passionate representation of your organization will make a difference.

via Decoding The DNA Of Great Recruiters (Part I) | LinkedIn.

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