Most recruiting professionals seem to have fallen into their career by chance, luck, or fate. You don’t often (if ever) hear kids saying they want to grow up and be a recruiter. Recruiting also isn’t typically the first thing on the tip of your tongue when you’re thinking about a new career path. So where do recruiters come from? How are they made? Are some people just born to be recruiters?
There’s no doubt that recruiters are passionate about what they do. They love tracking down great talent and making placements. The satisfaction of a good match keeps them going. You have to be in tune with the industry in order to survive in it. And maybe that’s not something you can learn or be taught. It’s possible that some people are just innately predisposed to be recruiters in the same way that some individuals are born to be natural leaders.
So if you’re thinking about starting a career in recruiting, ask yourself if you already have the following traits… or if a friend of yours is thinking about getting into the industry, ask them if they have these traits that maybe you take for granted in yourself:
- Invested in Success: To be successful in recruiting, you don’t have to be some kind of megalomaniac or be hell-bent on “success,” whatever that means. However, you do have to care very deeply about professional advancement and peoples’ careers. You have to be invested in candidates and companies, which means caring about job satisfaction, personal issues, and career advancement. This translates into your own work as well – recruiters have to always be expanding their knowledge-base and connections. Recruiters have to believe that jobs, work, and professional success matter deeply to people’s lives and they must believe in the possibility of improvement.
- Self-starter: In recruiting, no-one’s going to stand over your shoulder or hold your hand while you make phone calls. Only the independent will prosper. It’s up to you to research the right candidates, make the calls, set up appointments, push the interview, etc. If you have anxiety over talking to strangers or thinking on your feet, recruiting might not be the industry for you.
- Detective: Love a good mystery? Recruiters need to love detective work. The issue in recruiting is that it’s really not like fitting together puzzle pieces. You don’t know exactly what you are looking for. You have to be able to take a rough idea and then hunt it down – recruiters “get” the position, and then identify the match when they see it. It’s an odd skill set, really – you have to be comfortable with using inexact and changing clues to find people, that are also unpredictable and unreliable. You have to be comfortable with this imprecision, but more importantly, enjoy the hunt for something as elusive and changing as human talent.
- Strong Communicator: Are you persuasive? Do you know how to say the right thing at the right time? Better yet – do you know how to listen? Recruiting isn’t about finding any old candidate of the street and getting them to sign on the dotted line, it’s about finding the right candidate for the right job. Your decision making process will be largely guided by the questions you ask and the answers you receive.
- Driven by results: Sales makes the world go ’round – or at least it needs to make your would go round if you want to stay motivated. If you get excited about the quality and quantity of your work, then recruiting might be a great career choice for you. While you can certainly teach someone to make sales or drive customer behavior, you can’t force them to love it – that’s a passion you need to have inside of you. Recruitment, whether corporate or agency, is large self-directed: you will get out of recruiting only what you put into it.
- Free-Wheelin’: It is always said that over analysis has killed many a placement. Recruiters have to be able to “get out of their own way” to make connections. Could you look at a resume and in twenty seconds be comfortable with whether or not that person might be a right fit? Recruiters are essentially brokers: this means finding the right fit and bringing two parties together.Highly analytical people tend not to do well in recruiting, as there is a high volume of input (screening resumes) and output (talking to managers, setting up interviews.) If you spend a lot of time over-thinking everything, this high input/output scenario is a difficult proposition.
While you can train a good recruiter to become a great recruiter, the initial building blocks need to be there for that person to cut it in recruiting for the long term. Without passion and an ambitious attitude, most people get frustrated with the job and give up. There’s a reason the industry has such a high turnover rate – fresh recruiters just don’t last. It takes a special and unique kind of person to succeed in recruiting.
If you’re in recruiting and love your job, be thankful that you found the profession or that the profession found you. If you’re thinking about getting into recruiting, do some soul searching before you dive in – recruiting isn’t for everybody, but for some people, it’s the only field that makes sense.