Career Tips for Recruiters: How Those Who Hire Get Hired

Recruiters and HR professionals spend their days sourcing candidates, interviewing and hiring. Some also place ads, write job descriptions and read through piles of resumes to find the best candidates. When in a search, recruiters and HR professionals know exactly what they want.

Yet many recruiters and HR professionals struggle when it comes time to owning their own career. They may know what they want, but they don’t know how to get it.

But the reality is, there is not much difference between how a recruiter or HR professional moves ahead in their career than any other job seeker, says Fred Coon, Chairman and CEO of Stewart, Cooper & Coon, an executive recruiting and transition, corporate outplacement, organization development consulting and military transition firm with executive offices in Phoenix, Arizona and Stamford, Connecticut.

“It is about understanding and employing the right strategies,” says Coon. “Yes, there are specialized skills that each of you as a recruiter has that make you unique in the recruiting world.”

Coon says his dad had a great saying: “They hire you because they think they can make money off the sweat of your brow.” This means that your job in the job search is to prove your value to your potential employers. Your search profile must be performance driven.

“By this I mean that if you are a performer then your value-add proposition is what you must communicate,” says Coon.

Recruiting companies are seeking employees or contractors who can get the job done. If you have done your job well, and you can show that, it means that you were a money maker for your company. If the potential employer sees you as substantial performer, one who is better than your competitors, and one who can make money for them, they will hire you over your competition.

To enhance your chances of getting that next job, here are a few tips from Coon and several other executive recruiters about what tactics can help recruiters and HR Professionals achieve their next  career move.

Industry Knowledge

Bill Temple, who Coon calls one of the best executive coaches in the U.S., says: “Regardless of your status, the key to landing a well-paying recruiter position is to have intimate knowledge of an industry segment.”

Generalists don’t do very well, adds Temple. Recruiting firms are seeking recruiters who can find exactly the right person for the right position.

“Our client companies want us to find exact matches and they always want the Purple Squirrel,” says Temple. “The truth is, and you know this to be true, they also want one that is both fuzzy and left handed. Haven’t recruited for those before? Then your chance of landing a position with an agency seeking Purple Squirrel hunters is not good.”

Proper Targeting

Specialized recruiting is hard to do. If you are seeking a position where the company is counting on your knowledge and skills to fill various needs within their specialized industry segments then use the databases available to you to target carefully. Don’t waste your time trying to get a job with a company recruiting for bio-chemists if all you have ever recruited for is engineers. If you don’t have a specialty and you cannot demonstrate added value, then you should probably go do something else.

Book Of Business/Contacts

Says Temple: Industry knowledge drives home another value: contacts!

“Coming into the recruiting space with a very solid ‘book of business’ can make all the difference to the potential employer as the cost of training and productivity cycle time to get a recruiter up and running can be substantially reduced,” says Temple.

Agency Recruiter Background

Chris Gardner of Artemis Consultants, says, “It can be difficult to look for a job for yourself when you’re so used to helping everybody else! If you’re an agency recruiter, I would go through the same process of what you would go through to find a great candidate a job.”

Gardner offered these additional tips:

  • Assess what your domain industry expertise is and start there
  • Identify all likely target companies
  • Map out key contacts
  • Create a marketing campaign that touts your skills and accomplishments
  • Describe how you can have a direct and positive impact as part of their organization
  • Take a multi-channel approach to include email and phone and video

Video Resume

Another tactic to really set you apart from others is to create a video resume offering the viewers a face-to-face (so to speak) view of you, and your personality. In the video resume you will want to present a brief overview of your accomplishments that would relate to your target prospect.

“We all know that, basically, recruiting is comprised of sales, knowledge, smarts and determination, probably in that order,” says Gardner. “Regardless, one has to think like a salesperson and you must showcase your ability, either on the video or in person.”

Next, Gardner says it’s important to identify all of the organizations that interest you. Be persistent and follow up, follow up, follow up (related: Do personalized job applications really work?)

Social Media

We live in the age of hyper social media, says Coon. This means instant communication that most of us cannot even keep up with, let alone manage, even if we understand it all. Seconds are the norm and social contacts are the standard, most of those we will never know.

A professional recruiter seeking his or her next level on the rung of success is more than likely based on social media. LinkedIn has become the standard. Coon has 27, 764 1st level connections on LinkedIn.

“The days of 500 connections are long gone,” says Coon. “Today, it’s all about reaching out and touching, not only someone, but vast multiples of that. LinkedIn has the power to help you advertise your search.”

There are many social media platforms, including various social associations. For example, is you are not a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) you are not maximizing your potential leads and contacts, says Coon.

Current and Past Clients

Are you good at what you do? How does your future employer know that? Are your accomplishments quantifiable? Do you know how to communicate those effectively? One way to answer these questions is to have your current and/or past clients help you. Remember, if you have done a good job for them, they appreciated it and they are smart enough to pay it forward. Your efforts were not unappreciated. Using your former clients is actually your most powerful job search method, says Coon.

Communication Skills

As Greg VeVerka, Senior Recruiter with Stewart, Cooper & Coon says, “the advanced interviewing and presentation skills we have all received over the years can be converted into useful information for your own search. You know how to get past gatekeepers. You know how to spin the dial. You know how to dress the part and you know the power of YOU. With these things in hand, you can easily thrust yourself to the head of all lines.”

Can you communicate? Do you have sales ability? Are you tenacious? A “good” recruiter has the ability to convince. Remember, if you have the ability to convince a client company by overcoming their objections on a candidate or defining a job, then surely you can apply those same skills towards accomplishing your own job and career objectives.

Selling Your Skills

A good recruiter can sell. A good recruiter can dig out and command information that others cannot. Recruiters can read between the lines in job openings. They understand that an ad which is placed in social media may only be the tip of the iceberg and that hidden below those words may be many other roles affordable to them. A good recruiter always seeks to “re-invent” themselves to fit a role; they are experts at highlighting their sellable skills. So, if you qualify under these guidelines, why would you not apply them to your own career?

And finally, smile. And do what top candidates who stand out to you do, says HR Consultant Arlene Vernon, in an article titled The HR professionals guide to getting hired.

“Most important in any search – HR or not – is the confidence you exude,” says Vernon.  “Show up strong in your cover letter, email cover, resume, telephone follow ups and handwritten thank you notes. Us HR nerds know when we’ve found a keeper in the pile of resumes.  Be the keeper.”

Matt Krumrie

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Matt Krumrie is a career columnist and professional resume writer who has been providing helpful information and resources for job seekers and employers for 15+ years. Learn more about Krumrie via, connect with him on LinkedIn ( and follow him on Twitter via @MattKrumrie.

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