Hire A “Warrior” Recruiter? Not ?Bambi?

I?m helping someone hire a contract recruiter in the communications technology field and I was asked what they should look for in a great recruiter. Here is my response. If you believe that there is a war for talent it’s only logical that you would hire someone with a “warrior? mentality to be your recruiter. There are many types of recruiters in the world and they all have their place. My preference is to hire “aggressive” recruiters. I call them warrior recruiters (others call them “headhunter” types). They see recruiting in a different light than most other recruiters and HR types. They have a different skill set, attitude and approach. If you happen to be the market for a warrior, here some things you might look for. EXPERIENCE They have:

  • experience working at an executive search firm
  • worked in a ?fee-for-service? environment
  • previous “outside” sales experience
  • cold calling experience
  • market research (focus groups, surveys and interview) experience
  • a 90+% candidate closing rate
  • customer service experience
  • been a recruiter for at least one year
  • experience in trading and brokering deals
  • often successfully competed in competitive sports or activities
  • often been members of Toastmasters or have taken “Dale Carnegie type” classes


  • extensive knowledge and interest in sales and marketing tools and strategies
  • in depth knowledge of labor markets, unemployment rates, recent and pending layoffs
  • information about why people begin in a job search, leave a job and accept an offer
  • extensive knowledge of their firm’s (and the competitors) products and customers as well as their strengths and weaknesses
  • technical and industry knowledge beyond other HR professionals
  • a comprehensive list of successful candidate “finding, assessment and convincing” tools. They know ?why? each works and fails
  • knowledge of which firms train and develop the best talent as well as those firms that are weak at developing and keeping people
  • the ability to remember names and faces and people remember them
  • an extensive list of friends and contacts at all major firms in the area
  • knowledge of ethical standards and employment laws


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  • hate to lose/ fail and take each failure personally. They remember even minor failures
  • do the “hard stuff” first
  • love competition and beating the “other” guy
  • are aggressive, outgoing and have a high sense of urgency
  • compete against themselves and are dissatisfied unless they are continually improving
  • love metrics and pay for performance
  • hate process, paperwork, bureaucracy and too many approvals
  • work hard 24/7 but they always find time to play hard also
  • see every person they meet as a ” someday” hire
  • ?under promise and over deliver?
  • would rather ask forgiveness than permission
  • are a “find a way” person with few excuses
  • would refer their best friend or their worst enemy for the appropriate job
  • are an optimist and they don’t take “no” for an answer (especially to the question… I’m not looking for a job?)
  • respond favorably to an opportunity to prove their skill and abilities in order to get a job/ opportunity
  • often get frustrated by the ?process mentality? and lack of ?courage? that is often exhibited by most ?overhead? function professionals
  • expect to be given difficult assignments with little preparation
  • love challenge, growth, risk and learning
  • never hesitate when asked to ” raid” another firm for talent


  • will call candidates at home after nine clock and not feel guilty
  • talk to people everywhere especially on airplanes, on rental car shuttles and at professional events
  • return all phone calls and emails within 24 hours
  • know the answer to most business questions and if not, they know someone who does
  • are constantly on the phone especially between 5 and 7 p.m.
  • are on the Web at least three hours a day
  • are constantly in contact with friends and acquaintances
  • are members and actively participate in recruiting listservers and chat rooms
  • subscribe to the electronic recruiting daily
  • constantly anticipate and forecast the future
  • are confident and aggressive during interviews and meetings. They love public speaking
  • are members of professional HR organizations (SHRM, EMA etc.), leagues and clubs
  • get over 50 emails and 15 phone calls a day
  • own a cellphone, a beeper, a laptop and a PDA
  • talk to all new hires and rejects to assess customer service and what worked
  • often attends social/ civic events and is well-known in the community

Remember – “a recruiter is just a salesperson with a crummy budget” If you are a conservative type and are having a ?cow? over this concept/ list or if you don?t believe there is a war for talent, at the very least be prepared. For if you are in direct competition with a warrior recruiter? now you know what the competition looks like! Either eat lunch or be lunch.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on staging.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.



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