How to Be a Phenomenal Recruiter in 7 (Simple, But Not Easy) Steps

Recruiting has an image problem. You likely already know this, but if you want some digital evidence to back it up, try throwing “I don’t like recruiters” into a Google search— you’ll be assailed with some pretty forthright results, including:

  • Why Everyone Hates Recruiters
  • Are Recruiters Really Bad People?
  • 10 Reasons Why Your Candidates Hate You


Real-life anecdotal evidence can be just as brutal. It seems almost everyone has a horror story about a shady member of the industry. “I had one pump me up and arrange an interview that I was not qualified for,” says Mike Garcia of Philadelphia. “It was really embarrassing.”

Sandra McMahon is even less complimentary.

“Every job recruiter I’ve worked with in the past eight years has been awful,” says the business analyst from Phoenix. “Full of promises with zero results.”


Don’t be one of those. Authentic recruiters who prize candidate experience and act with integrity and transparency are the ones who will experience long-term, sustainable success in the field. Below are seven key steps to being the recruiter that candidates like and trust.

1. Listen to them

Really listen to them. Ask pointed, thoughtful questions such as:

  • What are they looking for in a new job?
  • What their long-term career goals?
  • What kind of salary and benefits do they require?
  • What kind of company culture do they thrive in?
  • What is their greatest professional achievement?
  • What’s the best job you’ve had and why?

Be the recruiter who puts their ego and agenda aside and actively listens to the candidate’s answers to these questions.

2. Only share solid and appropriate jobs

Then, take that information and match them to positions that are relevant to their experience and background and fit the growth potential and money they seek. Act according to what they’ve told you, not where you want them to be.

3. Be available and offer assistance

Candidates should be able to get a hold of you with a minimum of run-around. Of course, you won’t always be available to talk to them immediately, but the whole experience of reaching out to you should be smooth and unfettered. Return their calls and emails promptly and never ghost on them.

If they’re nervous, give them a genuine pep talk. Help them prepare for interviews. Make sure to give frequent status updates, too—according to a CareerBuilder report, 81 percent of job seekers working with a recruiter said that frequent status updates would greatly improve the overall candidate experience.

4. Offer feedback and constructive criticism

According to the LinkedIn Talent Trends report, 94 percent of candidates want feedback after an interview. This helps them learn, polish and grow.

Politely point out their interviewing weak spots and offer tips on how to improve. Make sure to focus on the problem, not the person, and to position feedback as a way for them to do better in their next interview. Finally, because criticism is always hard to hear, tell them a few things they did well, too.

5. Fight for them (when the job is right)

When it’s a good fit and an offer is on the table, it’s time to bring out your negotiation skills. Negotiate for the best offer while being careful not to become overbearing. Know the deal breakers and fight for what’s fair. Also advise your candidate when a truly great offer has been made and it’s time to stop haggling.

6. Pull back when necessary

Just like part of having good negotiating skills is walking the line between being assertive and pushy, nurture your skills at reading your candidate and knowing when they need a break from you. Sometimes they need time and space to process information and events—give it to them. If you don’t, they could be the one ignoring your calls.

7. Build a relationship for the long haul

We’ve said it before: Trusted relationships are the differentiating factor of successful recruiters. This is the sum of everything we’ve said in steps one through six above—concentrate on building trusted, long-term relationships. Resist the urge to view candidates as commodities who get you to the next commission check. The commissions will come, trust us, when you consistently demonstrate that you are interested in them and their needs.

TrackerRMS: Recruiting agency software that helps you build relationships

TrackerRMS is the leading cloud-based integrated relationship management system for recruiter, candidate and client success. See how TrackerRMS can help your team build better relationships, increase productivity and increase profitability. Check out the TrackerRMS blog for more great advice or schedule a demo today.

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