The 7 Characteristics of a Great Recruiter

March 22, 2018 by

recruiter characteristicsLast month we polled nearly 130,000 HR/OD/Talent Management/Senior Executives about the top traits of a great job recruiter.  We thought it would be extremely valuable to identify recruiter characteristics, since 86% of staffing firms feel they are doing a good job recruiting, yet only 60% of job candidates report having a positive experience during the recruiting process.1

The results are in and the top recruiter characteristics are listed below in the order most frequently cited by respondents:

  1. They have great listening skills.

The highest-performing and most effective recruiters harness the power of careful listening, which far better ensures they:  1.  Fully understand the details of the exact job description, 2.  Are acutely aware of the client’s preferences and expectations, and 3.  Accurately assess “the match” between the job position and potential candidates.

  1. They ask the right questions before beginning the job search.

The best recruiters do not settle on standard and basic job descriptions.  Instead, they dive right in to the detailed, and exact, job description before beginning to recruit candidates.  They are equally as detailed when interviewing candidates, gaining an in-depth understanding of each candidate, including experience, values, beliefs, characteristics, and goals.

  1. They have great perseverance.

The most awesome recruiters are incredibly persistent and do what it takes to fill the job with the right candidate, often before or after the work day begins and ends.  They are not hesitant to schedule interviews after hours to accommodate candidates who are currently employed, as those are often the very best candidates.  These recruiters also tirelessly follow up with candidates, thereby building long-lasting and more meaningful relationships.

  1. They are highly organized.

Job searches are rich with many moving parts and dynamics.  The best recruiters employ exhaustive organization practices to stay ahead of the curve and focused on the right corresponding priorities.  While applicant tracking systems provide some help and support, long-term recruiting success is achieved through more than just software.  Setting clear, specific, and prioritized objectives requires extremely thorough organization skills.

  1. They are awesome networkers and extremely good at relationship building.

Outstanding recruiters easily build rapport and relationships that last a very long time.  An outgrowth of this recruiter characteristic is trust, both with the hiring organization and the job candidates.  Great recruiters firmly believe in personal relationships, and as a result, earn the undying trust of everyone involved.  In addition, these amazing recruiters possess strong communication skills and simply love to network with others.  Remember that a candidate who trusts his or her recruiter are far more likely to divulge mutually beneficial information to help determine when an accurate “match” exists.

  1. They are eager to get on the phone with potential candidates, but more importantly, they like meeting in person.

While emailing and texting is now the norm, superior recruiters take the time to speak with candidates directly to better and more accurately assess whether there is the “right fit.”  Furthermore, this personal touch creates more meaningful and long-lasting relationships.

  1. They are not afraid to pull out of an agreement if it does not feel right.

This attribute is a great one since it is not uncommon for some recruiters to panic and feel pressed to make the deal just to get it over with.  Great recruiters give much scrutiny to pairing candidates with open positions, thereby avoiding recruiting for the same position again a few months down the road.


Hopefully this list has sparked some ideas for better evaluating recruiter characteristics and understanding their importance.  Hiring the right people for the right seats on the bus is no small feat.  Make sure your recruiter is ready for the task!


A special thanks to all the people who submitted feedback for this piece!  Your ideas will help thousands of people improve their recruiting processes!


Source:  1.  Echogravity Study, January 2018.


Kevin Sheridan is an internationally-recognized Keynote Speaker, a New York Times Best Selling Author, and one of the most sought-after voices in the world on the topic of Employee Engagement. For five years running, he has been honored on Inc. Magazine’s top 100 Leadership Speakers in the world, as well as Inc.’s top 100 experts on Employee Engagement. He was also honored to be named to The Employee Engagement Award’s Top 101 Global Influencers on Employee Engagement of 2017.

Having spent thirty years as a high-level Human Capital Management consultant, Kevin has helped some of the world’s largest corporations rebuild a culture that fosters productive engagement, earning him several distinctive awards and honors. Kevin’s premier creation, PEER®, has been consistently recognized as a long-overdue, industry-changing innovation in the field of Employee Engagement. His first book, Building a Magnetic Culture, made six of the best seller lists including The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today. He is also the author of The Virtual Manager, which explores how to most effectively manage remote workers.

Kevin received a Master of Business Administration from the Harvard Business School in 1988, concentrating his degree in Strategy, Human Resources Management, and Organizational Behavior. He is also a serial entrepreneur, having founded and sold three different companies.