Recruiters are facing a tidal wave of changes in just the last 6 months. In going from historically low unemployment to a market with one of the highest unemployment rates since the Great Depression, managing a completely unique set of operational and logistical challenges related to work environment and recruitment process workflow, and dealing with stresses of a pandemic, it’s been a rollercoaster of a year already.
While hiring has flat-lined in parts of the economy, it has surged in others. Hiring in technology, logistics and supply-chain, healthcare, and other sectors remains strong and competitive. But while hiring does continue, budgeting, corporate strategy, pace of business, standard operating procedures, and candidate and hiring manager behavior are all fluid. Recruiting has always been a complex, visceral, and incredibly important function. The current climate, more than ever before, reminds us that good recruiters must be smart, agile, thoughtful, and resilient.
What makes a great recruiter? Here are some battle-tested qualities that have enabled recruiters – for decades, and through previous economic downturns – to keep rolling through the punches.
• Have an eye for the future without losing sight of today.
Whether an individual recruiter or the head of a recruiting function, it’s important to tackle the tactical, while still strategically planning for the future. Build strong relationships and make thoughtful investments to help prepare for the boom that follows every downturn.
• Keep it personal.
The best recruiters are relatable, knowledgeable, and compassionate. They care about people, ask good questions and listen to the answers, and build personal connections with hiring managers and candidates. Put people first – the rest will follow.
• Focus on what’s important.
No matter the profile or economic climate, the importance and complexity to making successful hires is vital to the business. A good recruiter knows that time is limited and focusing on time management and prioritization of high-impact activities will lead to successful new hires. Collaborative goal setting, project and performance management, and structured review strategies keep good recruiters working hard to do the next right thing.
• Be efficient.
The pace of business continues to accelerate. Sped by technology, globalization and a whole host of other factors, the world is moving more quickly. Good recruiters and recruiting organizations have responded by automating where they can in an effort to work more efficiently. Appropriately leverage CRM, assessment, scheduling, matching, and analytics tools so recruiters can prioritize work on high-value tasks.
• Knowledge is power and details matter.
Candidates care about more than just the job they’re being recruited for – they want to know a company’s stance on diversity, corporate mission, work-life balance, internal mobility, and a number of other considerations. They will have questions about culture, operating rhythms, team dynamics, projects, and opportunity for growth. A good recruiter has the knowledge and subject matter expertise to directly and confidently answer typical, and atypical, questions. Be a a scholar of the company and speak with authority.
• You have to listen.
It has always been the case that a good recruiter has be an active listener. As basic as it sounds, candidates have to know they are heard. This, of course, is exaggerated in today’s market where we all are dealing with stress and uncertainty. Know when to listen first and talk second.
• Commit to continuous improvement.
Top recruiters are groomed, supported, and trained. They are incentivized to perform and encouraged to be always learning. This quality should be bred and nurtured from an organizational perspective. This is especially important in a volatile market that continues to change. Be receptive to new information and to adopt a mentality of continuous learning.
• Proactive Authenticity.
Recruiting is a sales-biased function, but BS in the recruiting process leads to poor, ill-informed decision-making by candidates and hiring managers. It ultimately results in bad hires. Skilled recruiters balance ‘selling and compelling’ with honesty, accuracy, facts, good advice, and big-picture thinking. Be authentic and credible.
To survive and thrive through disruptive events and circumstances, whether that be the .com boom, 9/11, the 2008-2009 recession or the COVID-19 pandemic, requires rigor and determination.
Now is the perfect time to reflect on and fine-tune the recruiting function. As an individual recruiter, you can continue to build critical communication and rapport with key hiring managers, hone your skills and tactics, and keep your head while under duress. Organizationally, it’s a great time to address systemic issues, explore new technologies and solutions, invest in key team members, and bolster a culture of authenticity and resilience.
Written by Greg Karr, Sevenstep