So, You Want to Be a Recruiter? Lessons From 3 Recruiting Pros


HR Analyst, Software Advice

Have you thought about getting into recruiting? Now's a good time, considering the demand for recruiters is at its highest levels in four years. While the U.S. unemployment rate is hovering around 8 percent, hiring managers are struggling to find the right people and are turning to recruiters to uncover the most qualified candidates.

But the role is full of misconceptions and unexpected challenges. I spoke to some experienced recruiters to learn about the mistakes they made earlier in their careers and what insights they would offer to new recruiters just starting out.

1. Recruiting Doesn’t Only Happen Behind a Computer

While recruiters can use the Internet as their primary tool for finding candidates, using it exclusively could limit their access to a wider, more diverse pool of candidates.

Jonathan Weems, a technical recruiter who’s been in the field for five years, says his biggest mistake as a new recruiter was assuming he could always find the best candidates online. He stresses that new recruiters need to network offline just as much. His advice: look for new groups and communities where you can engage in-person to find more people with the skills and qualifications you’re seeking.

“Also talk to employees within your own company, find out where they came from, and start building relationships internally,” says Weems.

“Those relationships are just as important as the ones you develop with job seekers, and you can leverage those co-workers as another channel for finding candidates.”

2. Use Multiple Tools to Source Candidates

With so many job boards and posting apps at a recruiter’s disposal, it’s easy for one to get overwhelmed by all the tools and technology. New recruiters sometimes fall into the trap of relying entirely on one or two tools–and using them in the same way–simply because they’re familiar with them or have seen some good results.

If recruiters are consistently achieving great results with a particular tool, like Monster or LinkedIn Recruiter, by all means they should continue using them. But failing to leverage other tools, could cause recruiters to miss out on a larger pool of candidates.

“Get out of your comfort zone and diversify the types of sites you use, the approach you use on the site, and the way you tackle a search,” adds Weens.

3. Use the Internet, Don’t Watch It

According to a Jobvite social recruiting survey, 89% of companies said they would recruit in social networks in 2011, and 55% would spend more on social recruiting. While companies are beefing up their social recruiting efforts, I think one could argue that recruiting has always been very social.

“The best people who are [recruiting] online were probably pretty good at it when social recruiting wasn’t really an issue,” says Lance Haun, editor of SourceCon and community director for

“They’re naturally social and they’re trying to have conversations with people. It’s just an extension of what they’re doing in real life.”

Even though recruiting apps can automate daunting tasks like posting jobs to multiple social networks, recruiters who don’t actively engage with job seekers are failing to take full advantage of those platforms.

“With all the active status updates and the constant stream of information on social sites, it’s easy to treat the Internet like TV and just watch it,” says Miles Jennings, CEO of “Successful recruiters don’t watch the Internet and social networks–they use them as tools to do more of what they do best: talking to people.”

4. Understand the Job You're Recruiting For

Experienced recruiters say that finding candidates with the right credentials and experience isn’t always the hardest part about recruiting–it’s understanding the job that needs to be filled and the business requirements for that position.

For example, without any real-world experience as a software engineer or insurance claims processor, it can be tricky for a recruiter to know what to seek out in candidates for those positions. Beyond identifying relevant keywords to hunt for in candidate resumes, recruiters need to understand the business and what the hiring manager is really seeking in a candidate.

You can press the client to get more information about the position, but it’s more important to understand the business you’re recruiting for,” adds Jennings.

“It's that hands-on knowledge that gives you the capacity to understand what hiring managers want, and gives you the ability to have a real conversation with a candidate as opposed to a job-req-qualification information dump.”

Recruiters can start by engaging with professionals in the field they’re hiring for to learn as much as they can about the profession. Go to lunch with them, ask questions, shadow their day-to-day activities on the job and take notes, because the things you observe will give you a better understanding of the kind of candidate you should look for.

What other tips, challenges, or misconceptions should they know about? I think we’ll begin to see a lot of newbie recruiters out in the field pretty soon. And the more we can prep them, the better.

Thumbnail image created by laughlin.

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