What makes a good recruiter? 3 critical ways the answer has changed

Great recruiter asking remote interview questions

If there are any recruiters out there who don’t have whiplash yet this deep into 2020, I’d be very surprised. Think about it – we came into this year talking about the war for talent and how to build candidate experiences that make our organizations stand out in a highly competitive job market. Then COVID-19 hit and the conversation became completely different. We were suddenly faced with the opposite problem – a high volume of candidates and a limited number of available positions. Recruiting skills were put to the test as HR teams shifted strategies.

But through all this, did what makes a good recruiter actually change? Spoiler alert: the answer is yes.

Obviously, the basics that great recruiters need – things like communication, time management, and people skills – will always be key parts of the equation. However, the additional skills and main goals successful recruiters should focus on have definitely shifted, especially in smaller businesses where recruiting is just one of many hats HR is wearing. Let’s take a look at what your priorities should be now to hire talent effectively in the new employment landscape:


Efficiency beats flash

Back in 2019 and even leading into 2020, when we were all talking about what makes a recruiter successful we often mentioned thinking like a marketer. While marketing skills, particularly social media, are still important to promote job openings, the reality is that post-pandemic recruiting efforts need to focus less on the kinds of attraction strategies we used when we were looking at a scarce job market and more on finding who the right candidates are in a sea of applicants without spending a prohibitive amount of time doing it.

So what do the best recruiters have in common when it comes to tackling this flood of potential team members? One word – efficiency.

Efficiency means a couple different things when it comes to your recruitment processes. First, it's your ability to build a candidate experience that's streamlined and brings people through your hiring stages quickly and smoothly. Second, it's coordinating with hiring managers and other key stakeholders internally around those hiring stages. The connecting thread in both these cases is your HR technology.

When you think about the skills and tools you can use to become a great recruiter in this new normal, ask yourself these questions about the systems that support your efforts to ensure you're being as efficient as you can be once you have candidates in your pipeline:

  • What steps do you have to go through to communicate consistently with candidates? You should be able to generate communications across a variety of formats to move things along simply from a single location.
  • How easy is it to know who should be involved when in the recruitment process? You should be able to automatically see all your candidates, the hiring managers associated with the job openings they're applying for, and the key stakeholders involved in interviews and evaluating those candidates at each hiring stage so you can keep everyone on track.
  • How manual is it for you to do an initial assessment of how well new applicants fit the roles they're applying for? You should be able to introduce some automation in the application itself to filter down to the best-fit candidates based on the answers they give to qualifying questions.

Business strategy informs staffing more than ever before

In the old world of the candidate's job market, it was all top recruiters could do to just get someone in the door to fill an open position, let alone ask too many qualifying questions around how that person would align to organizational goals or business strategy. Instead, the cultural attractiveness of the organization was typically emphasized, which has led to some gaps in HR and recruiter knowledge that have to get filled fast to adapt to the new jobs landscape.

In fact, one of the most shocking things we found out from the brand new study we just did with HCI was that only 39 percent of HR professionals outside of high-performing organizations know how their company's talent strategy drives its strategic goals. It's critical to change this and build an in-depth understanding of the relationship between business strategy and the team members your recruiting efforts bring in.

Get started on the road to better recruiter/business alignment with a few more key questions:

  • Are your business goals reflected in your candidate personas? These templates will help you find new hires who have the skills and mindset to execute on critical initiatives for your organization and can even be built into your job requisition frameworks to help populate new openings fast and accurately.
  • Can you quickly see which new hires have gone on to perform well? A unified HCM system will let you compare your people's performance trends against the candidates in your recruiting pipeline to see if there are any similarities with high performers and set up quick reference dashboards to keep those connections top of mind.
  • Are you asking the right interview questions? You can do your best to qualify new applicants up front, but ultimately their ability to align with your business strategy will come out through more in-depth conversations. Make sure you centralize some templates with these questions for interviewers as well.

Getting recruiting insights without effort is critical

I know what you're thinking. All this talk about analyzing the massive pool of candidates organizations are now pulling from sounds like it will take a ton of time and slow down recruiting efforts rather than making them more efficient. And I'd say you were right if things like practical AI weren't now options in great recruiters' toolboxes.

I know that sounds lofty, but bear with me. HR technology is at the point where AI, machine learning, and people analytics aren't convoluted, cutting edge processes anymore. Instead, they're embedded in strong HCM platforms, constantly learning from your activities and helping you do your job better day to day. This is a huge advantage when all your people data is in one place, because you get new insights into not just which candidates are good matches, but how best to retain those candidates once they're hired.

Here's what a successful recruiter should ask about their HR technology to uncover if it has these kinds of AI capabilities:

  • Can your solution actively help you match roles to candidates? Embedded AI can look at the skills and certifications important for different job openings and combine those with the successes of existing employees to automatically match candidates with positions.
  • How quickly can you understand hiring team sentiment? AI can look at hiring manager and stakeholder evaluations after interviews and summarize the most prevalent feelings they have around a candidate, saving you time and speeding up hiring stages.
  • What affects new hire retention most? If you hire the best-fit candidate and they leave the company quickly, it's an even bigger blow right now thanks to limited resources. AI can proactively show you who has the most flight risk and why so you can help prevent it with existing employees and take it into account when hiring talent.

Conclusion: Going back to the basics is a great way to start

Now that we've talked about all the differences COVID-19 has forced on recruiters in order to keep up and stay great, I thought I'd end with what's stayed the same. If it seems like there's some groundwork your organization needs to lay with your recruitment process before you get into the suggestions above, that's okay. The good news is there are some practical core steps you can take that haven't changed all that much in the craziness of 2020. Check out our Simple Guide to Recruiting to get these under your belt and be set up for success in all the other areas we've already discussed.

Get your Simple Guide to Recruiting