It’s an industry built on understanding people, where most of the top billers will admit to ‘ending up’, over choosing as a career. With few barriers to entering the world of recruitment and an inevitable melting pot, we considered what it takes to be a great recruiter.

A recruiter needs to have a thick skin

Recruiters can get a bad rep. And a negative experience with one recruiter can have a knock on effect – not only with the rest of that particular agency, but with recruiters in general. Just Google ‘Recruiters are…‘ and you’ll see that the results aren’t pretty.

The ability to bite your tongue regularly and deal diplomatically in the face of difficulties and rudeness is a trait that you’ll either have or quickly learn.

There are a lot of hours that are sometimes spent fighting uphill to forge relationships that can be fruitless or disregarded. Relationships are transient, and the best recruiters have an aptitude for taking rejection on the chin.

Not everyone’s going to like you, and the brilliance of some recruiters lies in their ability to be friendly but indifferent to being everyone’s friend.

A recruiter needs an inquisitive mind

Great recruiters know how to squeeze information out of people in an unobtrusive way. They know the right questions and the best way to ask them.

Their probing, undeterred and not afraid of asking difficult questions when necessary.

Before even suggesting candidates for a role, you need to understand your client:

  • what they want
  • what their expectations are
  • what they don’t want
  • what the time frame is for filling the role

Here are five questions your recruiters need to ask their clients.

Once you have a full understanding of this, you can go out and find suitable candidates.

To place candidates in the most suitable role, you also need to understand them:

  • what their needs are
  • what drives them to succeed
  • what their aspirations are
  • any personal circumstances they have that could affect how they gel with a company

A recruiter needs a reactive memory

Recruiters need a talent for not only retaining vast amounts of information about people and roles but the ability to access it and utilise it when it matters.

Dropping the right name with a gatekeeper, a previous employment connection to cement a relationship, a tenuous link that might just open a door.

The difference between a good and a great recruiter is that one relies on a CRM, and the other acts as one.

A recruiter needs to be organised

Sales floors can sometimes depict a scene from Wolf of Wall Street. Which is why those that can find order in chaos, a way to store their information, manage their time, remain punctual and record their activity, rise above the fold.

A recruiter needs to be driven

The recruitment industry is a sprint to success, one that at times can be cut-throat. Which is why recruiters that rise through the ranks are often the ones with their eyes firmly fixed on what they want and often put in the extra hours, and then some, to make it happen.


These are just a small selection of traits you can expect to see in a top biller. There are many other attributes you can have that make you right for the competitive world of recruitment. If you don’t know whether we’ve described you, that doesn’t mean you’re not made of the right material. These character traits can be learnt and developed over time, and your skills will improve as you learn.