18 Ways You Know You Are an Elite Recruiter

We received such an overwhelming positive response from our ERE webinar — “Going from Good to Elite” — that I think we struck a cord!

Even through our economic woes, downsizing, right sizing, decentralizing, centralizing, compartmentalizing . . . there are still recruiters out there who are proud to be in this profession and passionate about doing things “the right way.”

For those who missed it, we discussed the competencies/skills of Elite Recruiters and the journey to go from good to “elite.” We announced the results of our Elite Recruiter Self-Assessment Benchmarking Study in which over 1,000 recruiters have participated!

In conducting research for this webinar, I asked every recruiter who participated the question “What do elite recruiters do that average or good ones don’t?”

Shamelessly stealing from Jeff Foxworthy’s “You know you are a redneck if …” comedy routine, this question quickly evolved into: “You know you are an elite recruiter if …”

The feedback I received was not only inspiring, but also challenged me to reflect on what it truly means to be an elite recruiter, and what I need to do to be one!

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Performing at an elite level doing anything is very difficult. Recruiting is no different. Documenting these attributes/competencies/skills, in a fun way, helps keep this passion burning and top of mind. Pick a few that are new to you or ones in which you know you haven’t yet achieved elite status and make it your goal to improve in these two or three areas over the next quarter. Picking even just one will no doubt increase your performance overall.

Outlined are some of my random thoughts on this topic!

You know you are an “elite recruiter” if . . .

  1. You get referrals from candidates you turn down for a position.
  2. Your hiring managers ask you who they “should hire” … and listen to your advice.
  3. Candidates seek your input on preparing for the interview with the hiring manager.
  4. Your candidates seek your council on deciding between competing offers, knowing that you aren’t just trying to fill your own position, but truly want what’s best for them.
  5. You keep track of all the people you have hired, and keep up an ongoing relationship with 90% of them.
  6. You track your performance (quality, efficiency, responsiveness/delivery) on a quarterly basis.
  7. You quantify the ROI of your services to your key stakeholders.
  8. You have clearly written quarterly performance improvement goals.
  9. You spend time each week helping those less fortunate find employment, craft a better resume, prepare for an interview, etc.
  10. You invest at least 15 minutes to an hour developing a written — hour by hour — daily plan of action that you deploy before each day. The most successful recruiters are religious planners.
  11. You stick to a schedule where during certain times of the day you are simply making calls and don’t allow for outside distractions.
  12. You have received gifts from candidates/hiring managers for “changing their life” for the better.
  13. Your hiring managers ask for your assistance in creating the job description, and you’re able to guide them in a consultative way to determine what needs to be accomplished, instead of a list of intangibles.
  14. Your hiring managers ask for your assistance in creating interview guides which will help them discover the candidate’s true capabilities.
  15. Your candidates turn into “centers of influence”: those people who are well-connected and to whom you can always turn for help on difficult searches.
  16. Your outside clients see you as an expert on what’s going on in the marketplace and even in their industry.
  17. You get referrals without even asking.
  18. People who seek your assistance have heard about you from more than one person.

We are looking for more additions to this list. Please post them!

David Szary is senior vice president and general manager, recruiting services, HealthcareSource. HealthcareSource is a leading provider of talent management solutions for healthcare.


18 Comments on “18 Ways You Know You Are an Elite Recruiter

  1. Once upon a time, I worked for a director who asked that we print out the top ten department objectives and post it over our desks where we could see them every day. I found that it became a focal point for clarifying day-to-day tasks leading up to completion of an objective. Similarly, this “top ten” list of eighteen points should be printed out where it can set a standard for our performance. Thanks to David for providing a concise (although admittedly not exhaustive) reference point.

    Probably a related item to #5: You know that you are an elite recruiter if former candidates/new hires seek out your advice unsolicited and without your follow-up. That is an intangible gift greater than #12. Some of the most rewarding pat-on-the-back compliments I have ever received have come from new hires contacting me after I have left a company.

  2. Great list! I agree with all but #10. An Elite Recruiter does not need to spend up to an hour a day planning a written hour by hour plan of action. #10 sound like someone’s been drinking the Robert Half Kool-Aid.

  3. You are included on emails from the SVP of HR to members of the internal recruiting team with comments like…”Team, let’s make this happen”.

  4. Just a couple suggestions –

    * An elite recruiter is willing to share his/her knowledge with junior recruiters and is willing to mentor them to success.
    * An elite recruiter gives back to the community by volunteering to freely help people in their job searches. An elite recruiter is known for his/her pro bono work.

  5. “You invest at least 15 minutes to an hour developing a written — hour by hour — daily plan of action that you deploy before each day. The most successful recruiters are religious planners.”

    I agree that we are planners, I sometimes over plan… but I think spending 15 min- an hour each day is a bit of overkill- this would make me less efficient if I did this… it takes me about 5 min or so each day to do this…

  6. An elite recruiter has the ability to advise and influence HR and Hiring Managers in regards to job specifications and compensation based on their knowledge of the local/national marketplace and talent pool.

  7. Clients book candidate interview times based on your recommendations rather than seeing CVs first.

  8. Hmmm. Guess I’m not an “elite recruiter,” then. I’ll just have to settle for enjoyable and stimulating work, providing meaningful employment to others, decent money, and the respect of a fair number of my colleagues…

    For my comment on words like “elite”: watch this from 0:43 to 2:01 and substitute “elite” for “honor… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3SxxhSpLrY

    Keith “Not Quite as Fat as Falstaff” Halperin

  9. Good stuff.

    You are…if….

    candidates you once turned down, turn up 1 & 2 years later, successfully compete for jobs they now can do having gained the knowledge, skills and experience you advised them to get.

    more students are graduating from local high schools inspired by your efforts and more of them are looking to aspire to a college degree.

    More college students are inspired to major in areas that will drive company performance, innovation and collaborative culture.

    Company alumns send you leads of high performing prospects who they believe will benefit your firm and grow in the bargain.

    Your local pro-bono pay-it-forward support of time and advice to One-Stop employment centers, community organizations offering employment counseling and resource limited health care organizations is lifting the brand image of your entire community and increasingly attracting candidates who previously wouldn’t relocate.

    (I prefer “world-class” rather than elite which connotes something a bit too exclusive)

  10. Superior recruiters are dedicated to assuring that their quality referrals and hires include diversity. They don’t have to be told by hiring management, “We want to see some diverse candidates in the mix.” They bring it and wow even those hiring teams who didn’t expect, didn’t want it, and didn’t ask for it. But now, due to superior recruitment efforts–are impressed and now want it; now embrace it–and now expect it as the way of doing business going forward.

    All too often, companies and recruitment entities separate quality selection processes and diversity recruitment efforts as two different dynamics when they should be one—with the same expectations, same approaches and same outcomes. Establishing a minority recruitment effort, with minorities for minorities, seems to give a pass to non-minority recruiters and non-minority senior managers. They’ve opted out and defer when they too should be totally involved in this effort of making diversity outcomes happen. Affirmative Action has its place when hiring entities refuse to be more inclusive, but superior hiring entities are driven by a need for ever better business results and want the best team on the field, inclusive of diversity.

  11. Valentino: interesting you should mention diversity. A company I contracted for basically defined diverstiy as:
    “We hire all kinds of young, attractive, outgooing, largely-white people from upper-middle class backgrounds!”
    Bet you can guess who that is…



  12. Excellent piece!! Thanks for sharing David. I have one that may be worth considering. You could be an elite recruiter if…the C-level in your company gives you a call when it wants to add “impact level” talent and believes you can find it.

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