Confessions of a Corporate Talent Acquisition Leader: How Do You Recruit the Recruiters?

How an organization approaches recruitment is foundational to its success. If you are a talent acquisition leader, you understand this. An organization that aligns its recruiting process with the business itself will drive powerful hiring results, but companies with immature recruitment processes open up a Pandora’s box of potential pitfalls for themselves.
In the current climate, a mature recruitment strategy demands several key components, like unconscious bias training; structured interviews; objective rating systems grounded in basic and preferred qualifications; proactive outreach efforts to passive talent; and a consistent message that aligns with the organization’s vision, mission, and values.
But before you can create and implement a strategic talent acquisition approach, you need the right recruiters on your team. After all, a strategic view of the recruitment function starts with the quality of the recruiters responsible for it.
How Does Your Organization Recruit Recruiters?
Prior to the advent of internal recruitment teams, a significant portion of strategic recruiting was done through outside agency consultation. Over the last two decades, however, companies have been building out their own talent acquisition teams, often as a center of excellence within the HR department.
But staffing these centers of excellence can be a challenge in itself. Ask any recruiter you know, and it’s likely they’ll tell you they did not think they would become professional recruiters. Instead, they probably entered the field through a more roundabout way.
So where do most internal talent acquisition professionals come from? Sometimes, agency recruiters decide to leave the numbers-driven agency life and join a corporate team. In other cases, HR-trained graduates use the recruitment function as a stepping stone to a generalist role or a leadership position, or they’ll use it as a way to explore other HR avenues they may be interested in. Some team members will find that they thrive in talent acquisition and decide to stick around.
What makes a good recruiter, though? Who should you be looking for when building out your own team? In my opinion, there are a few skills that are particularly vital.
3 Skills Every Corporate Recruiter Needs
1. Affinity for Technology
In order to be successful, a recruiter needs to be able to leverage technology that will give them an edge in the talent market, especially in terms of soliciting passive talent.
The day of the post-and-pray model is long gone. Most job seekers analyze organizations from the inside out to determine whether a company is right for them. They don’t want to hear from a hiring manager or talent acquisition leader unless they’ve first decided they like the opportunity. Job seekers have plenty of tools to assist them in this endeavor, including LinkedIn and Glassdoor.
To keep up with candidates and meet them where they are, recruiters need to adopt their own set of tools. Plus, recruiters who actively look for new tech solutions are forward-thinking types who want to evolve with the job seeker — and that’s exactly the kind of mindset a recruiter needs.
2. Employer Branding Expertise
The best recruiters are masters in the art of delivering a company’s employer brand to job seekers in engaging and relevant ways. Recruiters who understand a job seeker’s particular needs can craft specific, targeted messages that highlight for candidates the “why” behind the job description.
The ability to talk about a company through the lens of the candidate is what separates great recruiters from the rest. When a candidate says to me, “Wow, Laureen! This is the most thoughtful and intuitive interview I have ever had,” I know that I did my job as a recruiter. I was able to provide value and insight to both parties so that candidate and company alike could make an informed decision about next steps.
To truly excel, a recruiter must become a trusted resource candidates can turn to when looking to make a move, regardless of where the recruiter is employed.
3. Passion for People
All successful recruitment professionals have a passion for people. Period. Without that passion, a person is simply not suited for success in the profession.
Unfortunately, in some quarters, technology-driven messaging has eclipsed the one-to-one partnership between candidate and recruiter that is so integral to successful talent acquisition. Candidates become frustrated when they feel they are sending their resumes into a bottomless pit instead of submitting them to a real person.
Any relationship takes two. How are your recruiters following up with people? Your recruiters represent your brand and are the first point of contact people (should) have with your organization. Look at feedback from candidates: What are people saying about your hiring process? Depending on the consensus, it might be time to start reconsidering who is on your team.
Who is interviewing your recruiters? What is your criteria for a successful recruiter? Do you know what a good recruiter looks like in action?
The answers to these questions are foundational to any effective recruiting strategy. Any company needs quality talent to succeed, and bringing that talent in is the job of your recruiters. Take a look at the talent acquisition function in your organization: Is it delivering the results you need?
If not, it may be time to go back to the basics. Offer foundational training. Consider engaging a coach. Think carefully about whether you’ve been hiring the right people — and whether it’s time to change how you recruit recruiters.