Top Tips on How to Be a Successful Recruiter

Young successful recruiter wearing gray pantsuit with headset working on laptop in modern office.

Recruiters are a unique breed in that they come from all different types of backgrounds: HR, marketing, sales, technology, and the list goes on. But there are a few characteristics all recruiters–or at least all successful recruiters–have in common. Learn surefire ways on how to be a successful recruiter below.

They Never Stop Building Relationships

The best recruiters think in terms of relationships rather than prospects. 

Instead of focusing on a potential transaction–” is this person a viable candidate to place in a job?”–when you meet someone new, place emphasis on developing a meaningful connection with them. 

This mindset changes the way you approach not only your professional interactions but your work itself. It’s much easier to devote an hour each day to answer emails or to spend the extra time to make a phone call instead of sending a text when you’re focused on building lasting relationships. 

Cultivating the deep, extensive professional networks that the best recruiters have takes years. It doesn’t come from one-off interactions or automated emails. Instead, it comes from a relationship-first approach. 

This means investing the time to follow up with candidates to learn where they’re at in their career path and what new skills they’ve acquired, even when there’s no immediate upside for you. It makes all the difference in the comfort level and trusts your professional connections will have in you. 

They Have a Genuine Interest in Helping Candidates Grow

All too often, recruiters play the diplomatic intermediary. They give candidates bad news in a way that preserves their feelings. Still, they might not be 100% accurate, like “the company decided to go in a different direction” when the candidate totally flubbed their interview.

This might be the less awkward route, but it doesn’t do the prospect any favors and certainly doesn’t help them become a stronger candidate.

Top recruiters act as advocates for their candidates. They’re not just out to collect a commission but to serve as a long-term asset. This means delivering tactful but accurate feedback that helps people improve and being there to support them as they grow. 

Related: How to Give Your Candidate Interview Feedback (Positive or Negative)

They Focus on the Details

Any good recruiter knows that a candidate is so much more than a list of skills on paper. If you focus on resumes alone, you’ll completely miss out on what makes a candidate unique–or, more importantly, what might make them the perfect fit for a job. 

If you want to be the best in the business, you need to get to know candidates as people. Remembering the small things about them, like how many kids they have and what college they went to, is what sets you apart. 

These details will help you understand what’s important to a candidate so you can connect the dots on whether they fit a company’s culture and how likely they will ultimately succeed in a role. Taking the time to go deeper will increase your recruiting success and actually make your job easier.

They Take a Talent Pipeline Approach

Using a talent pipeline helps you hire quickly and effectively. It’s a proactive way of recruiting where you consistently add to your talent pool, not just when you need to fill an open role. 

Some recruiters shy away from building a talent pipeline because it takes work. You have to make the up-front investment to source and qualify your prospects and then follow up by nurturing them on an ongoing basis. 

It’s time-consuming, and there’s no doubt about that. But it’s also the best way to ensure that when a high-value position becomes available, you’re the recruiter with several great prospects ready to apply immediately. 

Related: How to Build a Talent Pipeline

They Don’t Procrastinate

It’s no secret that recruiting comes with a lot of tedious work. You have to schedule meetings, follow up with candidates (even when there’s nothing new to report), enter data into your ATS, track metrics, and so much more. Many tasks probably won’t be your favorite, but they’re essential to keeping your recruiting systems running smoothly. 

Becoming a master at the basic, sometimes tedious parts of the job is a simple factor that separates the highest-performing recruiters from the ones who are just average–or worse, those who seem totally disorganized.

Do the tasks you dislike first thing in the morning, so they’re done and out of your way. Or find a way to automate or outsource them. Just don’t neglect them. 

They Make Technology Their Best Friend

There are seemingly endless pieces of software, apps, and websites out there that are marketed toward recruiters, and your inbox is probably full of messages from sales reps wanting to pitch you on the latest tech tool that will solve all your problems. It can be overwhelming!

But instead of sending those emails to spam, stay at the top of your game by building time into your schedule to sample new technology regularly. You’ll discover new capabilities for saving time, automating tasks, finding candidates, streamlining the recruiting funnel, and more. 

Even if you don’t use a certain piece of software, demoing different tools can show you new hacks that will make you better at your job. Plus, you’ll make new contacts in the field that might be beneficial down the road. 

What’s more, if there’s a problem you’re looking to solve, and a tool isn’t available for it, many tech companies are chomping at the bit to build new features that will set their software apart. You might discover your next can’t-live-without-it app in the process. 

Related: Recruiting Apps You Can Use to Improve Your Sourcing Efforts

They Strive for Collaboration Over Competition

The recruiting space is crowded. It’s easy to view other professionals as the competition–someone to outsmart and outperform. But the best recruiters in the field are also some of the most well-connected to other recruiters.

Think of your talent acquisition colleagues as your allies rather than your enemies. Aim to share knowledge and lend a helping hand whenever you can, and it’ll pay dividends in the long term.

Recruiting may be a crowded field, but it’s also a small world. You don’t want to be “that guy” with a reputation for burning people because when the day comes that you do need help, it’ll be a lot harder to find. 

They Never Stop Honing Their Skills

If you’ve been in the game long, it’s easy to get complacent. Why fix what’s not broken, right? But with the pace at which today’s world moves, this mindset will quickly leave you with outdated skills and stale contacts. 

The most successful recruiters are constantly working on getting better and staying current. This can be done by attending networking events, participating in professional organizations, attending conferences, and being active in the local community. These activities keep your skills sharp and yield new contacts that further strengthen your network. 

There’s no single path to becoming a successful recruiter. With passion, persistence, and genuine care for candidates, you can build a prolific network that produces great candidates and establish yourself as a highly effective recruiting professional. 

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn