The recruitment landscape is changing. New technology is revolutionising everything from candidate sourcing, screening and candidate selection. Recruiters who can capitalise on market changes will be able to thrive, others will find it hard to survive.

The multitasking involved in recruitment can be overwhelming. You’re expected to source candidates without annoying them. To win new clients (without annoying them too) and to manage expectations on both sides. Of course, the type of recruitment you do depends on the sector you recruit in and seniority level., however, we’ve outlined the 8 meta-skills that we think are important to master in 2021.

[List] 8 recruiter skills you need to master in 2021

1. Communication 

A significant amount of time spent as a recruiter is communicating with others, but the nature of communication is changing. Cold calling isn’t entirely dead, but it’s difficult to headhunt someone via the office switchboard when they’re working from home in lockdown. Using tools like Seamless.Ai or Lusha to source mobile numbers and emails can help recruiters to reach candidates and decision-makers.

Of course, getting good at text and email-based communication is now a crucial recruiter skill. That sounds simple, but it’s really not. You’d be surprised how many recruiters still start their emails with “I hope your well”. And let’s not get started on sending LinkedIn messages a day after someone connects back with you….

In terms of selection, the ability to read body language is a valuable recruiter skill that’s missing in a virtual world. This both works ways of course, but ensuring your zoom game is up to scratch is important. A decent webcam like this one and a decent microphone like this one will make you look more professional on client calls.

2. Data Analysis

Data-driven HR technologies are on the increase. In order to add value to your clients, they’re going to want visibility of your recruiter activity. Reporting on what you’ve done to source talent, what the market is like and whether the role requirements are reasonable is crucial. The ability to collate and analyse your own data in order to improve your practice is going to be a critical skill going forward. And, yes, that means pivot tables and Excel mastery.

You’ll also want to analyse your own effectiveness as a recruiter. Take time to identify your individual recruiter KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) and turn these into SMART goals. Evaluate your processes and see what could be adjusted for better results. Examples include optimising the advertisement of job vacancies or changing interview formats to optimise your conversion rates or reduce time per interview. 

3. Relationship Building    

The bad news is that building relationships over video calls is hard. The good news is that most recruiters are actually pretty bad at building relationships so it’s not hard to stand out. Keeping candidates and clients informed of your progress is all it takes. They will appreciate not being left in the dark at any point of the process., which is what most recruiters do when they don’t have news.

A semi-automated task in your CRM (we use Hubspot) can be really valuable for this. Remember, candidates just want to know where they’re at. Imagine if each week you’re able to say – I had this many conversations, explored this many opportunities for you, and have this many more enquiries to make next week. Yes, we know some candidates will use it as a prompt to call you each week for “a chat”, but don’t accept that. Would they rather have a chat or let you get to work finding them a job?

On the other side, you should also communicate clearly with hiring managers. Understand their needs and try to work as a team to reach their goals. Most of the time their initial hiring requests are unreasonable, it’s your job to explain why and to stretch requirements, but you can only do this if you have a trusting relationship to work from.

Recruiter skills: 8 skills you need to master in 2021

4. Reliability 

In an uncertain backdrop, such as a global pandemic, being able to rely on people to do what they said they would do has never been more important.

Remember that whilst your service is valuable, you can always be replaced. Don’t let people down due to negligence. Hiring managers are counting on you to provide results in a set time frame. And candidates don’t want to be disappointed. The stakes are high for both parties, so be present for both of them.

So, don’t make false promises, but set realistic goals and try your best to meet these. Always provide interview feedback to candidates and regular updates to hiring managers.

5. Systems thinking

Systems thinking involves moving from observing events or data, to identifying patterns of behaviour, to surfacing the underlying structures that drive those events and patterns. Capturing recruitment data is pointless unless you can create systems and processes that optimise for improved recruiting outcomes.

At the same time, the principles of systems thinking make us aware that there are no perfect solutions; the choices we make will have an impact on other parts of the system. By anticipating the impact of each trade-off, we can minimise its severity or even use it to our own advantage. Systems thinking, therefore, allows us to make informed choices.

Let’s take a simple example of where to advertise jobs. You may discover that certain channels are more likely to yield the best candidates, but what about the diversity of hires in that talent pool? What about the cost of reaching those candidates or the sustainability of the channel? Systems thinking allows us to make long-term choices that improve our hiring processes.

6. Multitasking 

Recruiters have to advertise, to screen, to interview, to arrange interviews, to sell, to write reports, to manage expectations, to give bad news and the list goes on… Excelling at all these skills is unlikely, excelling at all of them on the same day is near impossible, but that’s your job!

You need to work on having a strong ability to compartmentalise tasks, manage your time and avoid distraction. Being able to juggle these tasks in a professional and efficient manner is essential. We use a simple weekly planning method at ThriveMap and have recently adopted an inbox zero approach, but you’ll have to find a method that works for you. Most of all, try to plan your day and not get distracted as the cost of context-switching will drain your productivity.

7. Marketing

Recruiters need to be able to sell ideas, candidates, and jobs. This means marketing is a key skill in recruitment. Recruiters should be familiar with the same advertising and web analytics tools that marketers use. We use Google Analytics for web traffic and Moz and Ahrefs for SEO. On-page analytics is also important so you know which job adverts are converting and which aren’t. Hotjar can be useful to see what candidates are doing when they land on your job ads.

It’s also helpful to have a good social media presence as a recruiter; we use Buffer for our social media posting and insights. Social media can be used to network and make connections, but it’s also important not to be spammy. Relationships are built slowly but destroyed quickly on platforms like LinkedIn. Oh and if you’re not growing your presence on Clubhouse yet, don’t worry but it’s one to watch in the recruitment space.

Recruiter skills: 8 skills you need to master in 2021

8. Patience

It can often take patience to make cohesive plans with candidates and clients. You have to schedule meetings with many different people and it can often be hard to find a time that suits everyone. Staying calm and recognising that people have a lot of stress right in their lives now is important.

Hiring for competitive positions can be a long process. You do not want to hire the wrong people due to impatience. In addition to this, the most valuable candidates can often lose interest at the last minute. Perseverance in recruitment is key, but I’m guessing you already knew that. 😉

Don’t stop learning

You can’t improve what you don’t measure. Sending your candidates’ and hiring managers anonymous feedback surveys on your performance (we use Typeform) will help you to understand what you are doing well, and what you could do better. 

If there is a particular recruitment skill that you seem to be falling behind in, do your research for upskilling programs. There are lots of free or paid courses you can do online to improve your recruitment skills.  We recommend checking out The Searchologist and Social Talent.

Make connections with other recruiters in order to learn from them. Join Facebook and LinkedIn groups in which people are encouraged to share personal and professional experiences for everyone to learn from. 

Recruitment is not suited to everyone. You have to have the right temperament and people skills in order to excel in this field. However, if you enjoy meeting people and providing a valuable service that will help others, it is a very rewarding job. Let’s hope these 8 skills help you to become the best recruiter you can be.