Read-up with RED.

How to be a successful recruiter.

21st June 2023


recruitment career can be incredibly exciting and rewarding. It’s an industry you can enter without any experience and work your way up to a senior role whilst earning lots of money and having fun along the way. You will have development opportunities, attractive earnings potential, and you will gain life skills such as communication, patience, big picture thinking and empathy.  

However, it can also be challenging at times. You’ve got to find the right candidates, get new roles on, spend a lot of time building relationships, ensure a good candidate experience, sort out internal processes, deal with internal issues, etc. The list goes on. 

Recruitment takes a lot of hard work, dedication, and grit. 

So, how do you cut it in the recruitment world? What will make you a good recruiter? What are the main skills you should focus on building to get ahead in your recruitment career? 

Keep reading to find out because we’ve asked RED Global’s Directors what makes a good recruiter. 

1. Learn to listen

As a recruiter you will spend a lot of time speaking to people every day. A lot. Being able to communicate effectively with your clients and candidates will set you apart from other recruiters. This will help build your reputation, and of course earn more money in your back pocket.

Florian Petersen, Managing Director Perm Europe, chose listening as one of the top skills for a recruiter.  Listening is so important; it actually accounts for half the communication process. It will enable you to truly understand what your customer wants and needs, helping you to deliver the service that your client or candidate expects (and deserves.)  If you want to get ahead in your recruitment career, you must be able to listen effectively. 

Pay attention – Give the person your undivided attention. Avoid being distracted by external factors. Take note of the other person’s body language including when they hesitate. Sometimes the things they don’t say can tell you a story.  

Show that you are listening – Smile when appropriate. Use verbal cues such as ‘yes’ and ‘uh huh’. This helps to encourage the other person to continue talking. Ask relevant questions. Don’t interrupt. 

Give feedback – Ensure you’re understanding what the other person is saying. Ask questions if you’re unsure. Never assume. Paraphrase to demonstrate that you’re listening but also to ensure you are understanding what they are saying. 

As Stephen Covey, author of ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People’, put it: “Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.”

2. Be empathetic 


Empathy is a key skill for life in general. According to Oxford Dictionaries, “empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.”

In recruitment, empathy allows for more meaningful conversations with candidates and clients. It forces you to slow down and to get to know your customers better, and to really understand the problem you are there to solve. 

RED Global’s HR Director, Matt Edmonds, says, “A good recruiter is empathetic and highly engaging.”

How to build empathy into your recruitment approach? 

1. Ask questions. What do they need/want? Why? What is the challenge? 

2. Seek to understand what they are feeling by putting yourself in their shoes. 

3. Don’t make assumptions. 

4. Validate their situation. Communicate with empathy with phrases such as, “That sounds challenging. I’m sorry that has happened to you.” 

5. Listen, but also share your own thoughts and feelings. 

Recruiting shouldn’t feel transactional. We’re all human and people just want to feel heard. So, take the time to listen and show empathy. It will get you far. 

3. Learn to say “no”


Do you know how to say ‘no’? 

Well, if you want a successful career in recruitment you’re going to have to learn how to say no, politely and effectively of course. 

It can be tempting to promise things to your candidates. Matt Hackney, RED Global Managing Director North America, comments: “You need to be able to say no and set realistic expectations with candidates when some of their asks are not aligning with what the client is able to give them, or what we are unable to give them.“

Good relationships are built upon trust. Being honest means sometimes having to say no. It is an art though.  Follow these tips:

- Using your communication and empathy skills, validate your customers needs/wants. 

- Provide a good reason why you’re saying no. Be honest but do it politely.

- Propose an alternative or compromise if possible. 

4. Manage your time


Manos Xenikos, Managing Director Europe Contract, believes that time management is crucial to being a successful recruiter.  

The more active the market, the busier you get. The more money you make, but also the easier it is to hit burnout and to make mistakes, neither of which will be good for you nor your customers. 

As your workload increases, managing your time effectively is key to your success. Time management is a skill that ironically can take time to get right. Prioritisation is your first port of call. Here are a few tips on how to do that: 

1. Create a daily to-do list. Don’t overload your list. Be realistic. What are the tasks that will make the greatest impact on your goals?  For example, if your goal is to fill 2 roles, what are the most important tasks for that day which will move you closer to that goal. 

2. Rank your tasks. You can use the ABC method with A being the most urgent and C being least important. 

3. Remember the 80/20 rule. 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts. So, focus on your strengths and figure out which of your actions contributes the most towards your goal. 

Whilst prioritisation is key, don’t forget about understanding what your time wasters are. Unnecessary meetings? Out of control inbox? Social media? Using outdated technology? 

5. Have a goal


Keep your eyes on the prize. RED Global Client Development Director, Andy Duke, says, “Having a goal is key, and always know your why.” 

Setting goals keeps you focused and helps you carry on when things might get hard. It can be a financial goal or making an impact in people’s lives by helping them get that much wanted job, or just wanting to be the best at what you do. Whatever it is, don’t lose track of it and it will fuel your determination and commitment. 

How setting goals can help: 

1. Increased productivity

2. Helps with prioritisation

3. Happy clients & candidates

4. Increase your earnings

To set a goal, we suggest using the SMART method. With 608 million results online for ‘How to set a SMART goal’, Google is your oyster.  

6. Follow the process


Cutting corners might seem appealing at times. You believe you’ll save some time and effort. That’s most often not the case. 

“Owning the process is key. Being diligent and following the step-by-step process,” comments David Roberts, RED Global’s Life Sciences Director. 

Following internal processes step by step ensures you focus on the right things at the time and that you do them at your best ability. Following a process that has proven to be effective over time helps you reduce risk and gives you best chances of success.

Processes are also usually there for a reason and have been tried and tested. Get your back office teams on your side by following their processes too especially when it comes to things such as compliance. 

7. Develop your resilience. 


Nothing says disappointment quite like that feeling when you’ve been working with a candidate for days, you’ve lined up the perfect role for them. The client initially wasn’t sure but you convinced them to do an interview. It goes well and the client makes an offer. But the candidate then pulls out at the last minute. 

Welcome to recruitment. A role with many ups and many downs. 

What is resilience? The capacity to withstand or to recover quickly from difficulties. Think grit, tenacity, fortitude. 

Why is it important? It helps to deal with challenges in a positive manner, combats overwhelm, avoids burnout, and improves performance.

You can develop your resilience by: 

1. Have a positive mindset

2. Strengthen your emotional insight

3. Maintain perspective 

4. Ensure a healthy work-life balance

5. Take time to reflect on situations

6. Seek advice from your colleagues

7. Build healthy networks personally & professionally

“Let your failures refine you, not define you." 

Henry David Thoreau

As with anything in life, what you put in is what you get out. Our Perm Europe Director, Florian Petersen, put it perfectly, “the harder you work, the luckier you get. To be very successful, to be above average, you must work hard.” 

So, work hard at following our above tips and see your recruitment career soar. 

At RED we are always looking for the right talent to join our teams and build a better business together. We offer all our consultants continuous training and support in helping them reach their full potential.

Click here to learn more about what it’s like to be working for RED.

If you’re thinking of starting a career in recruitment or you’re in need of a career change, get in touch with our internal recruiters for a chat.

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