I spent a good part of my career in talent acquisition, though at that time it was called just plain ‘ol recruiting. Currently, I am helping a client determine what they need in a recruiter. This got me to thinking about what skills are necessary for someone to be really great at recruiting. Here are five skills I feel are necessary for success in the talent acquisition role in your company.

Be Curious

I am a naturally curious guy. I’ve always found it fascinating to find out what people do for a living. As a recruiter, you’re going to be talking to a lot of people with diverse backgrounds and lives. To be an effective interviewer, you’ll need to be genuinely curious about who they are and what they have done. You have to want to know the details.

In an effective interview, “the devil is in the details.” Most people can give passable general answers to the questions you ask. And there are numerous websites available today to coach people on how to answer interview questions. If you as the interviewer are not curious, and you don’t probe for more details, you are likely to miss important information. So let your curiosity be your guide.

Additionally, if you come across as being bored with your candidate—and I have to admit we’ve all been there—you will not be effective in the interview process. Being genuinely curious will help stave off boredom.

Be a Conversationalist

Interviews that come across as interrogations will not go very well. You will put the candidate on the defensive, and someone who feels defensive will not be forthcoming with information. And, let’s face it—the whole purpose of an interview is gathering information. One way to prevent a defensive reaction is to treat the interview as a conversation rather than a set of questions.

A good way to get used to this approach is to imagine that you’re sitting in an airport waiting for a flight that has been delayed. You strike up a conversation with the person sitting next to you and discover she has a fascinating job you know nothing about. You want to learn more. Would you hammer the person with questions? If you did, they would probably not be very responsive and you wouldn’t learn anything. But if you ask questions in a friendly, conversational tone, the person is much more likely to be comfortable answering you.

Be a Savvy Businessperson

To be an effective recruiter, you cannot be in your own “silo.” You have to be knowledgeable not only about the business aspects of your company but also about the broader spectrum of jobs and companies beyond your company’s four walls. This requires you to be well-read and caught up on what is happening in your industry, society, and the world. You need to know specifically what is happening with your customers and your competitors. In fact, your competitors and allied industries may be your best source of candidates, and without intimate knowledge of the state of their affairs, you may be missing opportunities.

If you are not aware of social trends, you may be caught off guard and miss out on the best methods for communicating with candidates. You may be unprepared and not know what to expect regarding their appearance or the experience they may have had. Business savvy is critical.

Be Able to Run with the Big Dogs

As a business-savvy recruiter, you are going to be seen as a strategic business partner. You are responsible for identifying talent that may make a major difference in the future and fortune of the company. As a result, you may be sought out by upper management for your knowledge. So you have to be comfortable dealing with high-level management and not be cowed by someone’s title. With your conversational skills and business savvy, you should be able to feel at home in the C-Suite.

Be Up On Technology

No one is surprised to hear that the nature of technology has radically changed the landscape of talent acquisition. The days of running an ad in the newspaper or hanging up the “Help Wanted” sign are long gone. As my recent experience in the exhibitor hall at SHRM 14 in Orlando showed, there is no shortage of technology vendors with ways to improve your talent search. Many of these can connect you to multiple social media outlets such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, as well as many of the large and small job boards.

In addition to being savvy about social media, you also need to be conversant in mobile technology to be able to get your message across and to interact with newer generations of job seekers. If your search efforts today don’t incorporate texting, you are missing a large portion of your potential candidates.

An effective talent professional will be conversant in the multiple ways available to connect with the broad spectrum of candidates. You have to understand your talent pool and realize which method will most effectively reach the specific demographic and skill set you’re looking for.

And Have Fun with It!

Recruiting is fun and challenging at the same time. As you meet new people, you expand your network as well as your chances for enlarging your sphere of influence. It is also one of the most important jobs in any company. You affect the direction of the company as well as that of individual careers. Decisions you make today will have an impact 20 years down the road because of who you found and helped hire. Pretty heady stuff if you ask me.

Team Scoring: The Ultimate Collaborative Assessment Solution

Organizations want their teams to be creative but are not entirely sure how to select and assess those skills. The question remains: “Can the answers to open questions be measured and evaluated?” We have the solution: eSkill’s Team-Scoring feature.

View Now


  • Helena says:

    Having specific knowledge about the business is essential for talent acquisition. Recruiters need to find those specific candidates that can make a difference, so they should know enough to feel comfortable having a conversation with upper management.

  • Jessica Green says:

    Recruiters should be up to date with relevant and new information in this dynamic economy. They should have a close connection with industry experts and specialized blogs because this is a good opportunity for continuing education. Recruiters have to invest time to stay current in the business.

  • Wilton says:

    Recruiting is not talent acquisition, although unfortunately the two terms are used interchangeably. Recruiting is a subset of talent acquisition, which is a strategic approach to identifying and attracting top talent who can make a difference in the business.

  • Topics

  • Subscribe to Our Blog

  • 10 Keys to Hiring and Engaging Millennials

    This simple and practical infographic breaks down Millennials’ values and ambitions, what drives their job satisfaction, and what they expect out of companies. It provides a better understanding of Millennials and useful statistics about this pool of candidates.

    View Now

  • Latest Posts

  • Stay Social