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You Need Chutzpah to be a Recruiter

By August 22, 2013No Comments

Everyone out there knows that the best IT Recruiters have a technical background in coding or programming, right?  Or the best Healthcare recruiters used to be nurses, the best Accounting recruiters come out of the Big 4, and the best Business Support recruiters can type 85 words per minute whilst taking dictation and arranging morning teas…

Hmmm – maybe not.  Not in my opinion anyway.  OK I’m probably biased but my first recruitment desk was in white collar Construction roles that I knew absolutely diddly squat about, but still managed to be the second highest biller in the office in my first year… (Yes Reece, you beat me and didn’t we all know about it, well done).

I’m not purporting to be “the best recruiter” though (I’m not even the best recruiter in my house), but I certainly didn’t suffer from a lack of understanding about building codes, sub-contractor management or engineering principles around the depth of foundations required when building a library.  I learned all of that stuff just by talking to my candidates, sometimes at great length, and actually listening and learning from them.

But yesterday I had another one of those conversations that seem to be increasing in regularity.  It was with a Senior PHP Developer with a  Bachelor in Computing and Mathematical Sciences and he had decided that he wanted to get into recruitment.  Why?  Yep – you guessed it – because he has been continually unimpressed with the level of technical knowledge exhibited by IT Recruiters in his local market.  He, naturally, could do better work for the clients out there.  He could consult properly with clients and if the client was unable to find the right person to match their exact specifications, well his monumental level of technical knowledge would enable him to advise them on hiring someone else who could be developed into the right role.

There was a problem with his assertion though…

He had no personality.  No spark, no edge.  There was nothing about his pitch or his tone that compelled me to believe in his statement, to catch fire to my imagination.  And the problem with that is that if he became an agency recruiter then prospects, clients and targets of headhunt approaches would feel the same way.  In fact even if he became an internal recruiter he would still fail to win over the hiring managers.  Sure, he could amaze them with his technical knowledge and ability to quickly understand a brief…

But there’s so much more to that in being a recruiter.  You need to think on your feet.  Bend your brain around hurdles to conjure up solutions.  Have the tenacity to pick the phone up again to the guy who just hung up on you.  The hunger to stay late and complete that reference that you know will lead to a placement, even if you miss football training.  The social skills to build relationships with all walks of life, at all levels, and in all environments from the boardroom to the bar.  You need that fragile ego that keeps you striving for more, and that desperation to please people that makes you go the extra mile to complete an assignment for your client.

You need chutzpah to be a recruiter.  Now there’s a word to really sum us up (yeah, yeah, there’s plenty more many could come up with I’m sure!)  And this guy just didn’t have it, despite his impressive technical knowledge that would doubtless gain him extra credibility in his sector…until the really twisty, gnarly, complex and emotional aspects of the recruitment process kicked in two seconds later…

Am I wrong?

By the way if you didn’t know RHUB is returning to NZ again in October and early bird pricing ends today.  So click here to register and attend.  Apparently registration has been “strong” already, so don’t miss out.

Jonathan Rice

Director of New Zealand rec-to-rec firm Rice & Co, co-founder of freelance recruiter platform JOYN, and people-centric technology firm superHUMAN Software. Recruitment innovator, agitator and frustrated idealist, father of two, husband of one, and lover of all things Arsenal and crafty beer.