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Do You Have the 10 Traits That Top Recruiters Share?

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It’s a new ballgame. LinkedIn Recruiter’s new search capabilities make it relatively easy for any sourcer to identify top talent. (Of course, they need to search on Achiever terms to do it.)

However, identifying top talent is not the same as recruiting top talent. And since most of the top 25% in any field are not looking to change jobs, recruiting these people is the real challenge.

Given the accelerating need to emphasize passive candidate recruiting skills, we’re in the process of updating our classic recruiter competency model. Here’s a survey you can take to see where you stand. The skills and competencies are described below using the following 1-5 ranking system. As you rank yourself or other recruiters, recognize that a Level 5 is considered an industry Most Valuable Player (MVP) and a Level 1 is considered a rookie.

The Recruiter Competency Model ranking system

Level 5.0: MVP – Recognized industry leader. Consistently far exceeds aggressive performance standards for recruiting the best passive candidates for the most critical positions.

Level 4.0: All-star – Recognized company leader. Consistently exceeds aggressive performance standards for recruiting passive candidates for hard-to-fill positions.

Level 3.0: First-string – Can be counted on to consistently meet the performance standards.

Level 2.5: Role player – Has the basic skills but needs some coaching and training. Inconsistent.

Level 2.0: Bench Player – Needs a great deal of training, coaching and support.

Level 1.0: Rookie – Developmental player.

As you review the following traits and skills of the best recruiters, use the above 1-5 scale to rank yourself.

What the best passive candidate recruiters do

1. Make placements with top quality candidates.

These recruiters don’t just fill positions with the best people who apply. Instead, they seek out the best people, work with them closely and ensure the best ones get hired.

2. Emphasize fewer candidates, advanced networking and more recruiting.

The best recruiters don’t need a lot of candidates to make great placements. Instead they identify a small group of top tier candidates (15-20) using advanced searching tools and proactive networking. Converting 80% or more of these into career discussions is the key to their success.

3. Have top of the funnel metrics that are over the top.

Since the pool of prospects is small, the yield must be high. This requires a campaign approach to convert 80% of their outbound efforts into conversations and converting 80% of these conversations into interested prospects or more pre-qualified referrals.

4. Know the job inside out.

A job is not a list of skills or experiences. It’s a list of performance objectives that define the required results and the best process to achieve these results in the actual environment, the true culture and with the actual manager. As important, the best recruiters can convince hiring managers to define the job this way.

5. Use a consultative vs. transactional process to create a true career move.

It takes hours spread over weeks for a top-tier person to fully appreciate the long-term career opportunity inherent in any job. Good recruiters orchestrate this effort ensuring the decision to proceed or not is based on the difference in what that person is doing now and could be doing in the future.

6. Trusted and accurate interviewer.

The best recruiters conduct top-to-bottom interviews that focus on fit, performance and motivation. They can recognize top talent and their hiring manager clients give them a full vote on whom to hire.

7. Equal partner with the hiring manager.

Hiring top tier candidates who have multiple opportunities can’t be done without a strong partnership between the recruiter and hiring manager. Part of this involves coaching and influencing the hiring manager at each critical step.

8. Considered trusted career advisors by their candidates.

Recruiters profoundly affect people’s lives, especially top tier and passive candidates who don’t need to change jobs or have multiple opportunities. Developing this trust also results in high-quality referrals of other top tier candidates on an on-going basis.

9. Can negotiate and close offers based on career growth rather than compensation maximization.

The best recruiters don’t box check skills or filter candidates on compensation during the first call. By setting the conditions for a career move during the first meeting, the best recruiters achieve high close rates within the budgeted comp ranges.

10. Applicant control is not considered distasteful.

Ensuring candidates don’t opt-out before understanding the full opportunity is the essence of passive candidate recruiting. Controlling the conversation this way is referred to as applicant control. The best recruiters fully understand the importance of this technique.

Now that it’s easier to identify passive candidates, it’s time for recruiters to up their game and learn how to become true recruiters. This is the only way any company will be able to hire the best talent available, not the best people who apply. Mastering these 10 skills is the place to start.