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What Does a Recruiter do? Insiders Identify the Traits of the Industry's Best

illustration of recruiters looking at resumes on computers 

When you hear the word recruiter, you may immediately picture a smooth-talking scout for a sports team. But talented individuals aren’t only sought out for the field or court. Recruiters are employed in the corporate world as well to seek out high-caliber candidates to meet companies’ needs.

“A recruiter is the link between candidates and their next job. It is a very fulfilling career,” says Tracy Vistine, lead recruiter for Messina Group.

So what does a recruiter do? And more importantly, what do the best recruiters do? Read on to learn what a day in the life of the industry’s best recruiters looks like.

Where do recruiters work?

There are two main types of work environments a recruiter may work. Many large organizations will employ their own team of recruiters in order to fill vacant positions within the company. The other option is to work for a recruiting agency, which works to fill positions on behalf of its clients.

Recruiters employed by a stand-alone business are typically closely engrained in the office culture. This means they’re on the hunt for candidates that will be a good match both for the position and the company. They work with various teams throughout the company to learn about their specific needs in order to choose an optimal candidate.

Agency recruiters often work in a specific area of expertise, such as technology or business positions. This allows them to hone in on certain fields in order to have a deeper understanding of industry trends and skillsets.

Just as there are a variety of work environments, there are a variety of job titles that recruiters can hold. Often falling under the umbrella of the human resources department, here are a few common positions you may encounter:

  • Corporate recruiter
  • Employment coordinator
  • Technical recruiter
  • Personnel coordinator

The day-to-day

No matter which work environment you choose, our recruiting pros agreed that your workdays will vary and you’ll be responsible for an assortment of tasks.

“I multi-task throughout my day,” says Amy Wolcott, talent manager for Sprout Social. She says she is constantly researching backgrounds, interviewing candidates and sifting through stacks of resumes.

Whitney Bristol of Jasper Contractors Inc. says she spends a lot of time on third party sites like Monster, Indeed and even Craigslist looking for candidates. She’s mastered the art of identifying top talent by how a candidate’s resume looks, their work experience and the use of specific keywords.

Recruiter Colleen Lauria agrees that the work varies based on the industry. Her day is a mix of networking with colleagues and friends to identify qualified candidates, using social media to generate buzz about open positions, interviewing candidates and meeting with clients to understand their business. Lauria also keeps tabs on industry news and trends to stay as informed as possible on developments that might impact her clients or candidates.

What skills do the best recruiters possess?

You don’t just want to be a recruiter; you want to be a top recruiter! So what are some qualities that many successful recruiters share?

Prime people skills

It shouldn’t be surprising that good communication skills are required to be a recruiter. Vistine says she spends more than half of her days on the phone, talking to candidates to determine if they have the right skills and attitude for the position.

You’ll also need to interact with the managers or clients needing to fill the position to understand exactly what they are seeking in an employee.

Strong intuition

You can never truly know a person through a few phone conversations or an interview. That’s why recruiters need to have good instincts and be able to detect potential that may not be obvious to others. A candidate may seem perfect on paper but that doesn’t mean they’re a good fit for the position. It’s the recruiter’s job to make that distinction.

“The best recruiters look for core skills such as adaptability, social intelligence and a willingness to learn rather than a strict adherence to job descriptions,” says Lynda Spiegel of Rising Star Resumes.

Will to succeed

“Recruiting isn't about just finding a 'butt to fill the seat'—you want to deliver quality talent for your team,” Wolcott says.

The best recruiters are driven to find the best possible candidates for each position they are attempting to fill. It’s easy to find a person to take the job, but finding the right match is much more difficult. Wolcott adds that successful recruiters are always thinking about what’s next for an organization, going above and beyond to meet their needs.

Desire to help

“At the end of the day this is a matchmaking business built on relationships,” Lauria explains. The best recruiters understand that and treat their candidates with integrity and compassion. They want to make a win-win situation for both the company and the client, so they endeavor to understand the needs and expectations on both sides before making a move.

The opportunities ahead

So what does a recruiter do? It all comes down to interacting with people. That means that every recruiter is going to do things a little differently, according to Wolcott.

If you are interested in recruiting, she recommends talking to as many different companies, agencies, recruiters, sourcers and account executives as you possibly can to get a wider view of how recruiters operate.

Once you’re willing to take the next step, learn how a degree in human resources can help prime you for success as a recruiter.

Brianna Flavin

Brianna is a content writer for Collegis Education who writes student focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen College. She earned her MFA in poetry and teaches as an adjunct English instructor. She loves to write, teach and talk about the power of effective communication.

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