In Cielo’s Talent Acquisition 360 research, we found that consistently hiring the best people available is the number one talent acquisition priority for C-Suite executives and business unit leaders globally.

We also learned this is what talent acquisition teams struggle with the most.

As part of our analysis, we determined that lackluster core recruitment capabilities are holding internal and agency recruiters back. The recruiters themselves and their recruiting acumen are key to  acquiring top talent.

Having successfully served as, and transformed, the talent acquisition function for hundreds of clients, we know the specific qualities that set highly successful recruiters apart from others. Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) partners like Cielo have honed these skills to perfection, and continually train recruiters to exhibit them.

1. Interpersonal Communication Skills

From the initial phone call to day one of orientation, high-quality talent expects a high-quality candidate experience. RPO recruiters make smart use of technology to facilitate this process, but they also deliver high-touch experiences that make the candidate feel important.

A great deal of an RPO recruiter’s day is spent in conversation. When interacting with hiring managers, they are constantly establishing themselves as authorities in their field. At the same time, they are building rapport with candidates to uncover honest and helpful answers. The ability to have these conversations and establish relationships over time is critical to an RPO recruiter’s success. Great talent tends to recognize other great talent, so these relationships also lead to more referrals.

Communication and relationship building skills are critical not only for our recruiters’ careers, but also for the experience of candidates and hiring managers. A bored or disinterested recruiter has a huge negative impact. Think about the last time you spoke with a customer support representative who could obviously not care less about actually helping you. You probably did not end the discussion feeling great about the company they were representing. Now imagine how you would feel if that same person held your job opportunity in their hands. RPO recruiters are trained to ensure this never happens.

2. An Aptitude for Relationship Management

Relationships are the foundation on which organizations are built. So it should come as no surprise that the ability to develop and manage strong relationships is a key recruiting skill. That means getting to know people as individuals and treating them as such.

RPO recruiters ensure candidates are happy whether they are offered a job or not, which protects and enhances the client organization’s image. They also build trust with hiring managers to give them peace-of-mind that their hiring needs will be taken care of.

These may seem like intangibles, but they produce measurable results. The difference in a hiring manager’s happiness before and after dealing with recruiters trained in relationship management is remarkable.

3. An Insatiable Thirst to Learn

A lot can be taught through training. But great recruiters begin with a desire to always improve.

Recruiters do not have to be experts on day one. But the only way they will become experts is by having a constant ambition to educate themselves on their industry, their client and their role. Those who stick with the old way of doing things because they lack the drive to learn will be left behind in no time.

4. The Ability to Know What They Do Not Know, and Ask Questions

The role of an RPO recruiter is to find the most qualified, interested and available talent that will be successful within the organization’s culture. To succeed at this, a recruiter must constantly be on the lookout for any gaps in their understanding of a position. If a hiring manager makes a vague request, the recruiter must be able to recognize that more information is required and ask for it. Remaining silent is a disservice to both parties.

Consultative recruiters always keep their ears open. They welcome feedback from hiring leaders and ask for it candidly when it is not offered. To truly distinguish themselves and become trusted resources, RPO recruiters actively listen to their hiring manager’s challenges and offer solutions – even if they do not have direct control over those challenges. They must also be advisors, understanding elements such as the talent market and candidate preferences to help educate and coach hiring managers.

5. Exceptional Prioritization Skills

Prioritization is essential in any position, particularly for recruiters. There are always new requisitions to complete, and every hiring manager will want their position filled first. RPO recruiters understand how to arrange requests in the right order to serve the bigger picture. Better still, they ask for guidance when they do not know what should come first. They develop a clear sense of what is truly important and what is simply perceived as urgent – and focus on the important.

6. Critical Thinking

The ability to determine the quality of a candidate is another key trait that cannot be reduced to checkboxes in a software program. A candidate’s education and job history provide important data points, but reveal little about personality or integrity.

Resumes and CVs lie. They can make bad candidates seem great, and great candidates look less than ideal. This is why human judgment plays such a key role. RPO recruiters are experts at behavioral interviewing tactics that help them determine who should make it to the next stage.

7. A Passion to Make Calls and Follow Up

RPO recruiters live for their calls – whether they are talking with candidates, hiring managers or associates. Individuals on the other end of the line notice and appreciate this. The result is a great experience for both hiring managers and candidates.

RPO recruiters cannot help but follow up, because closing loops is in their nature. They strive to make sure no one feels forgotten and no task is left undone. They know the costs of inaction, and the rewards of moving forward. All of this serves to protect and bolster the brand of the organization they represent.

8. Keen Insight

RPO recruiters are able to read between the lines and ask questions to uncover truths, whether they were hidden or simply not considered before.

Their insight leads to bold questioning, but also empathy. It lets a recruiter see past a candidate’s nervousness when they are ideal for the position. It also helps them empathize with a hiring manager’s concerns about replacing former key team members. Insight provides the motivation to ask probing questions about the necessity of certain job requirements or requests from candidates. It is what enables RPO recruiters to move beyond simply accepting orders to become more consultative and deliver additional value.

9. The Ability to Sell

When you get right down to it, recruiting is a sales role.

RPO recruiters sell job opportunities (and the organization they are recruiting for) to potential candidates. They are also selling hiring managers on the candidates they have discovered. Every step they take is an effort to move someone toward action.

No one asks recruiters to become marketing superstars. But if they do not believe they are creating and trading value, they will not approach their work with the necessary motivation to be successful.

Great recruiters believe in the opportunities they are offering. They recognize the value they deliver to organizations and candidates. They thrive on being the lynchpins that get people jobs, and give organizations exceptional talent.

10. A Consultative Approach

Perhaps the most important skill an RPO recruiter has is the ability to be consultative. At Cielo, we define being consultative as, “Partnering with others to produce optimum results while simultaneously building trust and commitment.” A recruiter can provide insight or recommendations, but without consulting and explaining the why, it will fall on deaf ears.

In essence, being consultative is the culmination of all the qualities listed above.

To provide this consultative approach, RPO recruiters become specialists in their areas. They constantly bring fresh ideas to the table and take calculated risks. They are the type of people candidates and hiring managers enjoy talking to – whom they trust and whose opinion they value – all in the service of providing the best talent, producing the best results and becoming a trusted resource.

Less than 30% of Talent Acquisition 360 respondents believe their organization is dedicating enough resources to ensure their recruiters are properly equipped. As a result, core competencies fall further and further behind the times – limiting recruiters’ ability to deliver. The majority of investments being made to help in-house recruiters learn about emerging practices in talent acquisition are transactional. This is a huge missed opportunity, as partnering with an RPO provider gives you steady access to new perspectives and innovative technologies (without additional investment), as well as deep domain expertise.

RPO recruiters are second-to-none in terms of their recruiting acumen and consultative approach. Leaders at all levels of your organization will notice the difference – whether they interact with recruiters directly, or simply benefit from the top talent being delivered.

See what nearly 700 corporate executives, talent acquisition leaders and business unit leaders had to say about their talent acquisition function in Cielo’s Talent Acquisition 360.


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