The Bad Habits of Good Recruiters

by Marie Larsen

Being a good recruiter requires the confluence of many diverse skills.  There are all sorts of ‘hard’ qualities one needs; attention to detail, industry expertise, focus and drive. There are also plenty of ‘soft’ skills you need; perception, intuition, savvy, and an ability to form relationships .  But what about some of the bad habits recruiters pick up along the way…and are they really that bad after all?

I was recently talking to a new Sourcer fresh out of college that will be working on my recruiting team.  She had lots of questions regarding the job, how to succeed and how to sound like she knows what she’s talking about…before she really does.  I love her already. I spent the afternoon talking to her about some of the positive things she can do now and some of the things that will come with time.  It got me to thinking; there are a number of people who would think the skills and talents she’ll be picking up along the way are actually bad qualities.  I don’t.  I think they’re survival tools that allow successful recruiters to wade through a sea of resumes without getting pulled under.  Here’s what I mean…

  • Discarding Resumes by the Pile: Have you ever noticed that new Recruiters will spend a lot of time with every candidate? Even the ones with tough resumes?  I have.  Over the years I’ve sat down with all sorts of Newbie Recruiters and one thing they all have in common is their insistence on focusing on resumes that are covered in red flags; giant chunks of missing time on the resume, tons of short term jobs and often retirees (sorry) who have been out of the job market for 5 years.  I hate to say it, but my daily routine is to bypass those resumes and move on to someone who is easier to place.  I know that’s mercantile, I know that’s cold but I also know how to make placements and it’s not by choosing hard to sell candidates.  A sign of a good Recruiter and a skill that develops over time is a certain cold disregard for ‘difficult’ resumes.  It helps a Recruiter wade through the piles and stay on the most efficient path to success.
  • Not THAT guy again: How about that candidate who has a fantastic resume…but you know that nothing ever works out for him.  You see his resume all the time, but there’s some negative association in your head.  Sometimes you know exactly where it comes from, though still other times you’ve forgotten what exactly put you off, but you know there’s something.  It sounds ridiculous.  “I can’t place that guy because somewhere in my head I remember that at some time in my career I may have had a difficult time with him?” That’s actually a terrible habit and sometimes it can cost you placements.  On the other hand, most of the time it’s going to save you a lot of trouble, difficulty and stress.  Over time Recruiters pick up a fantastic perceptive memory…we remember candidates; their names or their resumes, especially if we stay active in the same market.  A crucial skill of any Recruiter is to learn from past experience.  If a candidate was bad once, they’ll probably be bad again and opening the door to the same problems you’ve had before is a quick way to lose hours of a productivity.
  • Cutting ‘Em Loose: Telling people they didn’t get the job isn’t really easy and frankly, it shouldn’t be.  Unfortunately, that’s where a lot of recruiters get themselves tripped up. When people avoid giving bad news they do a lot of harm; the candidate is left with false hope, the Recruiter is constantly fielding follow-up calls and eventually the Recruiter will gain a reputation for not getting back to people.  So a good bad habit we pick up over time is the ability to drop the bad news bomb on someone within a 90 second window and moving on.  Yep, that sounds bad.  It definitely sounds like something other people and professions would call a bad habit.  Not so for Recruiters.  Being able to follow-up with a candidate, delivering bad news and then moving on is life blood for us.  We simply don’t have the time to dance around subjects with candidates and at the end of the day, it’s cruel to the candidate.  So with time, all good Recruiters will learn to drop the bomb; professionally, but quick and clean. Then they’ll move on to the next one.

There are plenty of qualities that might seem cold or unfeeling to people from other walks of life, but they’re not Recruiters.  They’re not racing the clock to find the best person faster than anyone else out there.  That’s our job.  That’s our world.  Recruiters are about speed, precision and persuasiveness.  Cutting the dross and maintaining a steady clip closes deals.

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