14 Ways to Become a Better Recruiter

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How can someone become a better recruiter?

We asked HR professionals and business leaders for their insights. From watching out for biases to being diplomatic with hiring managers, here are 14 suggestions on how to become a better recruiter.

1. Watch Out for Unconscious Biases

Recruitment is undeniably one of the more challenging feats of any business, but it’s also one of the most rewarding if you’re at the top of your game. One of the ways to improve is to mind your inherent biases and make sure they don’t come into play when evaluating candidates. While major biases like gender are usually kept at bay, there are a few sneakier ones people sometimes forget: ageism, aversion to neurodivergent candidates, affinity bias, just to name as a few examples. Biases should be avoided (or at least recognized, then never acted upon) to ensure the recruitment process is as smooth as possible.

Harry Morton, Founder, Lower Street

2. Work on Active Listening Skills

The single most important skill for a recruiter across all industries is the ability to quickly form relationships and build trust with both hiring teams and candidates. The better you listen to the professionals you interact with, the more fully you’ll understand their needs and goals — which means the more effective you’ll be at your job. When you’re at a networking event or in a meeting with a client, you should listen at least as much as you talk, and ideally should give the other person a larger share of the conversation. You shouldn’t spend that time waiting for your chance to speak either — you want to have real, meaningful conversations that include intelligent follow-up questions and make the other person feel like they’re truly being heard. If you ace those skills, you’ll start building the relationships a recruiter needs to excel.

Archie Payne, CEO, CalTek Staffing

3. Learn to Read People

I’ve been a recruiter for many years, and one thing I’ve learned is that you have to be a good judge of character. You have to be able to read people and determine if they’re the right fit for a position. This takes practice, so the best way to become a better recruiter is to interview as many people as possible. Doing so hones your "people-reading" skills through real-life application and interaction. If you’re just starting out, try to find a mentor who has experience as a recruiter. They can give you advice and tips on how to best conduct interviews and read people during them. After enough time spent honing this skill, you’ll be better positioned to judge a candidate’s fit.

Luciano Colos, Founder & CEO, Pitchgrade

4. Don’t Be Too Literal

Don’t rely too heavily on one-to-one experience. Being a good recruiter means sometimes thinking outside the box to find the perfect candidate. When you’re looking for talent to fill a role, you shouldn’t just consider people who have the exact background and experience listed on the job posting. Sometimes those candidates really will be the best fit, but there are many other instances in which someone with slightly unusual or unique experiences could be the better pick. If you want to be a great recruiter, you need to be able to see how experiences that look unrelated at first glance may actually apply perfectly to the role you’re recruiting for.

Brian Munce, Managing Director, Gestalt Brand Lab

5. Infuse Enthusiasm Into Your Process

Your goal should always be to get people excited about the position. If your initial outreach is too casual or boring, you’ll find it challenging to attract qualified candidates. You’ll want to perfect your outreach to attract both applicants and passive candidates. When you can effectively provide the essential details and answer key questions that any candidate may have, you can infuse genuine enthusiasm for the position. Show the prospects you reach out to that they aren’t just part of a long list of people you send emails to. When you personalize your message to them, your response and open rates will significantly increase.

Andrew Chen, Chief Product Officer, Videeo

6. Ask Yourself How You’d Like to Be Treated

There are too many stories about recruiters ghosting candidates and providing zero feedback. To improve as a recruiter, make sure you’re asking yourself every step of the way, "Would I like to be treated this way?" My best tip for becoming a better recruiter to is always remember the other side of the process — the candidates. After all, candidates are the focus of your job. Job searching is a stressful and often overwhelming experience for candidates. It’s crucial to be empathetic and supportive throughout the process. Top recruiters respect each and every person, even if they’re not the right fit for the position. It’s not only the right thing to do, it also reflects positively on both the organization and yourself.

Piotrek Sosnowski, Chief People & Culture Officer, hiJunior

7. Respond to Everyone

Most of the time, a recruiter only contacts the prospects who have been shortlisted and ignores the rest. This isn’t a good practice and doesn’t leave a lasting impression; it’s certainly not one the candidate is soon to forget. I suggest improving the candidates’ experience by informing them of the conclusion of their interview. Mention that they’ll be kept in mind if any other openings arise, and don’t just provide that as lip service. If you respond and follow through genuinely with everyone, you’re going to leave lasting, positive impressions.

Frederic Linfjärd, Director of Growth Marketing, Planday

8. Build Up Your Network

One way someone can become a better recruiter is by regularly building their network. This involves getting in touch with people who may be able to provide insights into job opportunities, attending industry events, and staying active in professional groups. Additionally, it’s important to get familiar with the trends in your specific field and continuously learn about the different professions that are part of it. For example, beyond knowing what skills a candidate might need as a software engineer, you want to understand what the best practices are when it comes to recruiting customer service personnel. This extra step sets you apart from other recruiters. Understanding nuance allows you to piece together teams and build strong talent pipelines that much faster.

Grace He, People & Culture Director, Team Building

9. Throw Out Some Curveballs

Do you want a candidate who thinks outside the box? If so, you need to be a recruiter who also thinks outside the box. It’ll make you a better recruiter. To achieve this, you have to first focus on the job’s needs, then the required skills. Change up your approach to hiring candidates. After all, positive change is beneficial to both the company and its potential hires. If you stick to the same old procedure of hiring, you’ll have candidates mugging up questions that are typically asked in interviews and preparing answers ahead of time. That just leaves you wondering if the candidate is truly skilled, or if they’re just saying what you want to hear. However, if you change up your approach (thinking outside of the box) and provide a unique challenge to a candidate, it’s an opportunity for them to either shine or flop. If someone can handle your outside-the-box questions, it’s solid evidence they’re going to be fit for the role.

Saikat Ghosh, Associate Director of HR and Business, Technource

10. Promote Yourself Through Social Media

There’s no denying the impact of social media in the modern world. In fact, social media is an integral part of the modern strategy adopted by the most effective recruiters today. Social media may be a double-edged sword; many individuals may be hooked, but recruiters can utilize it to their advantage through honed searching skills to find top candidates for open positions. LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are among the most helpful social networking platforms. Get involved with these networks. Introduce yourself to the world. Clearly establish who you are. Share information about your business and open vacancies. When people get to know you, they’ll look for ways to get in touch with you on their own accord. With proper execution, social media may provide unrivaled accessibility.

Timothy Allen, Sr. Corporate Investigator, Corporate Investigation Consulting

11. Be Diplomatic With Hiring Managers

You might have to deal with hiring managers’ conflicts of interest when working as a recruiter. Make sure you’re able to balance their requests while overcoming these discrepancies. Moreover, recruiting managers sometimes lack a thorough understanding of the hiring procedure. If you want to be a competent recruiter, it’s crucial to leverage your knowledge and experience in this field to spot challenging scenarios that hiring managers might not be able to spot on their own. To have a strong working relationship with recruiting managers, it’s also critical to comprehend how they think. For instance, some hiring managers could choose to conduct interviews and swiftly analyze resumes on their own, leaving you to find only competent individuals. Some recruiters can decide to pick a few of the top applicants and perform a thorough screening interview on their own. You can collaborate more effectively if you’re aware of how they operate.

Himanshu Sharma, CEO & Founder, Academy of Digital Marketing

12. Develop Exceptional Communication Skills

Since people will only read your writing online, how you write is crucial. Once something is online, it’s there indefinitely — no take backs permitted. You want to be succinct and clear; nobody wants to read wordy, monotonous emails. People require succinct and direct communication, so try to use as few sentences as you can to convey all the relevant information. Both your candidates and your personal success rate will benefit from this. Even if you have nothing to report, swiftly respond to emails from your candidates. If they don’t hear from you promptly, they might assume that you don’t care about getting them hired and, as a result, start looking elsewhere. Maintain contact with candidates even when there aren’t any open positions, so they know you’re at least thinking of them and you’re keeping an eye out for their personal interests.

Kim Leary, Creative Director, Squibble

13. Maintain an Orderly Workplace and Process

Being disorganized makes both your life and job more difficult. A cluttered workstation could indicate a cluttered mind, which could be disastrous. Therefore, clear your mind and body of clutter. Before a backlog of candidates builds up, keep up with your search. Since you already know who the best ones are and have their contact information on hand, doing this will save you time in the long run. Observe every email and social media message you send. You need to continuously be attuned to what people are saying on social media because it generates content so quickly. To be proactive and forward-thinking, stay up-to-date on trends and advancements in your areas of expertise. You’ll be prepared for what’s to come and be able to identify the top applicants right away for those upcoming job advertisements.

Ethan Bull, Owner, ProAssisting

14. Listen to Hear

Recruiters need to listen — whether it’s to what managers are saying has been missing, or what is truly needed in the targeted role. Recruiters need to ask questions that bring value, and then really listen to the response. When recruiters do the same with candidates (ask strong questions and then listen) they’ll reduce the number of no-shows and declined offers, and increase the number of successful hires. If a recruiter is dialed into the discussion, they’ll be able to hone in on what’s not being said.

Nicole Cox, Coach & Business Consultant, Your Torchlight Coaching

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