Over the course of my career as a recruitment leader, I have continuously fine-tuned the qualities that I look for in a potential recruiter. Most people would think that a good recruiter is someone that has studied HR or talent acquisition, but this is not always true.

Experience in sales, marketing, design, customer service, coding and data search, as well as a variety of other fields, can make up a great recruiter. In fact, all of these skills are shared to one extent or another by all recruiters.

I wanted to take the time to write this article for anyone thinking of joining the industry. It is important to know what it takes to succeed in such a competitive & challenging role.

1 – Empathy.

Recruitment is very lucrative, but only for those who care deeply about the clients & candidates lives they are affecting. I have seen recruiters in the industry that really don’t care about the outcome of their work, and their success (if any) is short lived.

In order to have longevity and a sustainable career in recruitment, you must put the needs of others before your own agenda. Profit is a byproduct of doing great work.

We are in the service industry after all. Helping people is what we do.

When you sincerely care, it shows in your work, and the results multiply.

2 – Above Average Work Ethic.

Mark Cuban, the Billionaire, said that the #1 thing that separates successful people from everyone else is this: Work Ethic.

According to Cuban: “It’s not about money or connections. It’s the willingness to outwork and out-learn everyone.”

This is the truth in any industry, but particularly true if you want to be successful in recruitment. You have to constantly search for ways to work smarter and harder.

This also means not giving up when the going gets tough.

3 – Work In Progress.

I believe we are all a work in progress. To be a great recruiter one day, you must understand this, and be an empty glass ready to be filled.

Long ago, I learned from Tony Robbins that you must apply the rule of CANI to everything. Constant And Never-ending Improvement is the only way to grow. If you are not improving, you are declining.

There is no such thing as status quo.

Personally, I have tithed 10% of my earnings to my own education every year. As a direct result of this investment, I have grown tremendously in all aspects of my life, especially at work.

This education has permeated throughout our company. This has allowed our team to broker more placements than ever before for our clients and candidates. As a result of this continuous discipline, countless lives have been affected.

This is the true meaning of being a great recruiter: The pursuit of improvement, in order to serve others more effectively.

4 – Assertiveness & Confidence.

In recruitment, you must be self-confident, and assertive without being aggressive. We are in sales, but not pushy. Aggressive salespeople are starting to go extinct, and for good reason. No one wants to be pushed to buy.

Instead, a great recruiter must first take the time to understand their clients and candidates needs before even trying to sell any solution. In our organization, we call this consultative selling. Asking the correct questions first.

There are times when a recruiter must take swift action and be more aggressive though. As reported on in this CNBC article, 70% of job seekers lose interest in a job if they don’t hear back just one week after an interview. Time can play a factor in every placement, however, it is a fine balance between pushing and pulling.

All of this must be done whilst keeping the clients and candidates best interest at the forefront.

There have been many times in my career that we have advised a candidate against taking my own job because the job they had was better. There have also been multiple situations where we have advised a client not to hire a candidate of ours because they happen to have a superior candidate through their own recruitment channels.

It’s not about making the sale. It’s about taking the time to be sure that what you are doing is the correct course of action.

Doing great work, in every interaction you have, every single day.

5 – Sociable, Relationship Builder.

We are in the people business. One must absolutely love working with people. A great recruiter has to be social, and candidates and employers alike have to like them, or else they won’t work with them. Clients all have options and are very discerning. A great recruiter must be someone that is trustworthy and likeable.

Statistically, recruiters have to reject more candidates than they hire. Great recruiters do this well by continuously staying in touch with candidates.

A great recruiter remembers small, positive details from their interactions with their rejected applicants and uses them to add a personal touch to their messages. They highlight candidates’ strengths and may even suggest other jobs they would be suitable for. Most importantly, they always stay in touch for future openings.

6 – Open Minded.

Great recruiters know better than to judge a book by its cover or a candidate by their resume.

Some great candidates have poor resumes, and some poor candidates have great resumes. A resume doesn’t tell you the whole story.

The key is to interview appropriately to uncover all the skills and attributes in a potential candidate.

As well, some candidates don’t list all their skills on their resume. Taking the time to explore that candidates true skills is the best way to create more opportunity.

6 – Motivated & Competitive.

Recruitment is tough. Really tough.

With the economy being as strong as it has been, companies are expanding.

The talent pool, however, is shrinking.

Companies are feeling the pain of recruiting and they rely on solid recruiters to come up with the talent for their organizations. If recruitment was easy, companies would do it themselves and not use recruitment agencies.

Hiring on the rise, stiff competition for talent, higher employee turnover and a lack of skilled candidates has now created the perfect storm.

This makes for a hyper-competitive environment that is not for the faint of heart. If this scenario frightens you, you are not fit for agency recruitment.

7 – Entrepreneurial.

Every recruiter in our firm comes from a different background. Some are ex-restaurant servers, some out of retail sales, call centres, inside sales, customer service or raw-graduates out of University.

The one thing they all have in common is that they are entrepreneurial.

They all have the capacity to see the potential opportunity and make it happen. They are the types of people that need very little direction, are very resourceful and driven.

Overall, they are the types of people that thrive best when left alone to figure it out. They make mistakes, learn from them and change their strategies accordingly.

8 – Relentless.

Stick-to-itiveness, persistent, determined and relentless. These are just some of the adjectives to describe a great recruiter.

Recruitment is a profession. It’s not an easy one either. Yes, it can be lucrative, however it’s difficult.

One of my favorite quotes is from Teddy Roosevelt:

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.” 

This could not be more true of being a recruiter. It’s challenging, but we wouldn’t have it any other way.

9 – Emotional Control.

Recruitment, much like entrepreneurship is a roller coaster.

It has continuous ups and downs. Mentally, and emotionally, you have to be equipped to handle the volatility, while maintaining your composure and confidence. Even when things are not going well and you are facing major headwinds.

This is very tough to do, and for some, takes years to master.

Emotional fortitude is a must to be able to withstand the peaks and valleys.

10 – Planned and Disciplined.

The 6P rule definitely applies to recruitment. Proper prior planning prevents poor performance.

In recruitment, you have to have a game plan walking into each day. This is not a role where you can “wing it”. Not for the long term.

Having the discipline to make a plan every day, and execute it to the best of your ability, is what it takes to make it in this business.

This is the big leagues after all.