Recruiters: Don’t Assume Candidates Are Drinking Your Kool-Aid

Recruiters: Don’t Assume Candidates Are Drinking Your Kool-Aid

“What do the best recruiters do?” That was a question that I posed to several recruiting heavy-hitters last week during a D.C. area happy hour. And, if there is one thing that recruiters love talking about over drinks, it’s recruiting. So, out of the mouths of industry pros, here are a few things that the best recruiters do.

They Know to Network

“Not everyone is on social media … you have to know your audience and how to reach them,” advised Kathleen Smith, CMO of, and the driving force behind D.C.’s Best Recruiter Celebration. In effort to become more efficient, the recruiting trade has increased its time spent online. But in some industries, you have to rely on networking, meeting people in person, or revving up referral programs.

The best recruiters know that not everyone can be found on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook or Xing, and then they go find them.

They Don’t Assume

The best recruiters do not assume that everyone they call wants to automatically work for their company. “You have to tell people about your role, the company, and sell them on why they would want to work for you,” added Derek Zeller, IT sourcer and a two-time “Best Recruiter” in D.C. You can’t assume that just because you are ABC Company and leading the way the world does XYZ, that everyone has already drank your Kool-Aid.

The best recruiters know that top talent needs more than just company name recognition.

They Respect Time

A three hour phone interview in the middle of the work day? Alas, the best recruiters know that “they have to be respectful of their candidates’ time,” Zeller shared.

I was once invited to interview with a large electronics company and spent seven hours meeting nine people. The second round was four hours and I met more people, including members of the C-suite. When they asked me back for a third day to give a formal presentation on what I would do if hired, I was burnt out on their process. I wasn’t going to waste another vacation day.

The best recruiters don’t waste their time or yours.

They Keep At It

One common quality that everyone at the tap room agreed on is that the best recruiters have a strong work ethic. If you say that you are going to call someone, you do it. If you haven’t found the right candidate, you keep working until you do. You become resourceful, creative, and never stop.

The best recruiters know that recruiting isn’t a 9 to 5.

They Make Connections

“Really meet someone where they’re at … it’s not necessarily about what you say to the candidate, but more importantly how you say it,” commented Hope Buehler, IT recruiting lead at GEICO. “You have to be vulnerable and open up,” added Pete Radloff of comScore and Exaqueo. “Sometimes you have to become fast friends to get people talking.”

The best recruiters know that recruiting is about people, not just filling reqs and time to hire metrics. Tweet this!

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Shannon Smedstad

Shannon Smedstad has nearly 20 years of recruitment, employer branding, and communications experience. Currently, she serves as the Principal Employer Brand Strategist at exaqueo. Previously, she held employer branding and recruiting leadership roles at CEB and GEICO. She’s a work at home mom raising two awesome girls who also enjoys reading, running, leading a Girl Scout troop, and her morning coffee. You can connect with Shannon on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Reader Interactions


  1. torin says

    For starters, I’ve never been to a boring Tap Room.

    Great points – solid article around blocking and tackling. A reinforcement to candidates and clients alike that the best of us are bent on contact, conversation, and relationships when possible.

    We know this “stuff” that makes for repeatable results year, after year, after year.


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