Recruiter Skills: Definition and Tips for Developing Them

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 15 November 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Recruiters have an essential role in the hiring process, as they help their clients find qualified candidates for open positions. They use both technical and soft skills to perform their duties effectively. Developing relevant skills as a recruiter can help you connect with people, stay organised and foster the success of your clients and candidates. In this article, we explain what recruiter skills are, share a list of relevant skills, discuss how to improve them and provide tips for practising your skills in the workplace.

Related: Complete Guide to the Employee Recruitment Process

What are recruiter skills?

Recruiter skills are the proficiencies developed and used by recruiters to communicate effectively with their clients to determine their needs, recruit qualified candidates for jobs and make candidate recommendations to their clients. Besides sourcing candidates, recruiters also evaluate their CVs, interview them, keep them updated about the status of the job opening throughout the interview process and negotiate salary requirements. To manage this process efficiently, recruiters use interpersonal skills to work with clients and candidates, and they use technical skills to communicate with involved parties and keep information organised.

Related: What Does a Recruiter Do?: A Comprehensive Guide

Essential skills for recruiters

The skills you may use as a recruiter vary depending on your employer, the type of candidates you recruit and your level of experience. Here are some essential skills that can benefit any recruiter:

Communication

Communication skills are the techniques people use when exchanging information and the foundation on which successful recruiters build their careers. Recruiters, as liaisons between job seekers and potential employers, are responsible for communicating clearly and effectively in person, on the phone and in emails or other written communications. Whether individually or in group settings, recruiters can respond accurately to questions, pass on information between parties and efficiently summarise employer feedback.

Active listening

Active listening is a specific technique recruiters use when listening to candidates answering interview questions. It involves more than just paying attention to what candidates are saying and providing a distraction-free environment for talking. Recruiters paraphrase answers, ask open-ended questions, empathise and affirm the candidate's ideas, which can help clarify conversations and make candidates feel valued. Recruiters also use active listening skills when determining their clients' needs and finding candidates that may suit them.

Confidence

Recruiters exhibit confidence when they present themselves as knowledgeable, direct and sure of their abilities. Since recruiters are often a candidate's first introduction to a company and its culture, the impression they make sets the tone for all subsequent interactions. Answering candidate questions with authority and being honest about questions they don't know the immediate answers to is one way recruiters exhibit confidence and reflect the positive qualities of their clients. Recruiters can then feel confident recommending candidates to their clients.

Time management

Recruiters use time management skills to help them stay on schedule and meet their deadlines. Their clients typically have established timelines for each stage of the hiring process, such as:

  • how long to accept CVs before closing the job posting

  • when to begin contacting candidates to schedule interviews

  • how many rounds of interviews to conduct before choosing a candidate

  • when to select a candidate and make an employment offer

Recruiters often run multiple employment campaigns simultaneously, and having time management skills can help them manage each campaign efficiently.

Read more: 10 Effective Time Management Skills and Their Benefits

Patience

Recruiters use patience when communicating with clients and candidates. While some candidates may respond to emails or phone calls immediately, it may take time for others to reply. Similarly, some clients may be more responsive than others, depending on the size of the company and the hiring manager's other obligations. Recruiters arrange interviews on behalf of their clients and job candidates, who may have conflicting schedules. When they remain calm and allow time for responses, recruiters can use the time between communicating with clients and candidates to complete other duties.

Marketing

Marketing skills are the abilities people use to present things in a way that makes others want to know more. Recruiters use marketing skills to promote the company they're hiring for and the specific role they're filling. Like traditional marketers, recruiters aim to understand fully what they're promoting, become immersed in advertising best practices and be able to adjust their message based on its audience. By introducing candidates to the benefits of working for a specific client, recruiters can persuade them to consider accepting a position.

Sales

Recruiters have a sales role in that they want to offer an employment opportunity a candidate feels confident accepting. Just as recruiters have marketing skills they use to make the job appealing to candidates, they also use sales skills to complete the marketing process by encouraging the candidate to accept a job offer. They may do this by telling candidates about how certain roles could help them meet their career goals and explaining company benefits. Similarly, when making recommendations to their clients, recruiters often use sales skills to encourage a client to select a specific candidate for a role.

Technology

Recruiters use different levels of technology, but basic technical skills are essential for any recruiter. Using specialised software programmes and communication systems allows recruiters to correspond with clients and candidates, document interactions, manage calendars and schedules and keep data organised and accessible. Some recruiters use marketing techniques, such as search engine optimisation (SEO) to target candidates searching for jobs. They may also perform research to monitor employment trends and stay updated on the status of the job market.

Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to process information, discern which pieces have relevance to the situation and then make unbiased decisions based on these considerations. Recruiters use this skill to evaluate a company's open positions, determine important credentials a candidate may have that would help the company meet their needs and evaluate a candidate's potential for fulfilling those needs. Critical thinking helps recruiters make firm decisions based on facts and experience instead of subjective factors, such as personalities or emotions.

Read more: Critical Thinking Skills: Definition and Examples

Relationship building

Recruiters may spend a lot of time working independently, but their jobs rely on their ability to form lasting professional relationships. Candidates who have successful experiences working with a recruiter may return to them if they're looking for another job in the future, and companies that find that a recruiter finds quality candidates for them consistently may feel inclined to continue working with them. By communicating with candidates and clients and helping them connect with each other, recruiters also facilitate professional relationships between others.

Ways to improve your skills as a recruiter

To improve your recruitment skills, start with an honest assessment of your current ability levels. You can use this as a baseline to measure your improvement. Here are the steps you can take to improve your skills:

  • Write SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-based to highlight the recruiting skills you're working on.

  • Ask friends and family to help you role-play in mock recruitment situations.

  • Investigate improvement resources like online courses, recruitment degree and certification programmes, workshops, classes and seminars you can take.

  • Ask professionals in your personal network about how recruiters affect their work and what skills and abilities they would like to see in the recruiters they work with.

  • Practice recruitment skills like confidence, time management and patience in your everyday activities.

Tips for using your skills as a recruiter in the workplace

Here are some tips you can use to practise your recruitment skills at work:

  • Practise effective communication mindfully in your daily interactions with colleagues and internal and external clients so all parties feel valued.

  • Use active listening techniques in workplace conversations to stay engaged.

  • Be confident without showing arrogance as you interact with others.

  • Manage your time efficiently to complete all your tasks on deadline.

  • Exhibit patience when things happen differently than you had planned.

  • Practice marketing and sales techniques as you make presentations or pitch ideas in brainstorming sessions.

  • Think critically when making decisions by separating facts from emotions.

  • Focus on being an effective team member by supporting your colleagues as they attempt to reach their goals.

  • Pay attention to how you manage interpersonal relationships with your colleagues, clients and members of the public, treating them with honesty and respect.

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