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The 6 essential attributes that make a top recruiter

Posted on 18 June 2019 by Oliver Morkel

Shutterstock 1443614873

The 6 essential attributes that make a top recruiter

Posted on 18 June 2019 by Oliver Morkel


​At SEC we run regular training academies to help budding recruiters hone their skills, and so far in 2019 we've seen over 25 consultants join us. From the day they start with virtually no experience, they are trained on every element of the job, in the classroom and at their desks, with everyone from their peers to the CEO getting involved.

Through this extensive learning and development programme, we are able to mould raw talent into brilliant recruiters - but if we're not looking for experience, what is it we hire on?

I tend to look at two elements: skill and will. I work closely with our internal talent team when hiring for the academies to make sure that applicants have both the soft skills to carry out the job well, and the will to do it. When someone has demonstrated this during the telephone interview phase, I am then looking for these six essential elements during face to face interviews:


I want to know what your drivers are. Why do you want to work in recruitment, and what is going to propel you through the tough days? The best recruiters are self-motivated and driven by their own goals, not just targets and KPIs set by their manager. We look for individuals who are able to demonstrate endurance and resiliance, and an ability to maintain their drive through the tough aspects of the role.


How willing are you to push yourself outside of your comfort zone? This is a crucial factor in the journey to developing as a recruiter, particularly in the early days. The more you push yourself and the more persistence you demonstrate, the faster you will become comfortable in carrying out the more difficult aspects of the role. Your drive to overcome challenges will gradually help you expand your comfort zone and become a better recruiter.

Work Ethic

Everyone says they are a hard worker; on every CV, in every interview. So, if everyone says it, it doesn’t differentiate you, no matter how true! When interviewing we’re always looking for examples that demonstrate how you go above and beyond. Recruitment is not a nine-to-five job, it’s highly demanding and requires just as much work six months down the line as it does during your first few weeks.

Thick Skin

Those with “thin skin” won’t go far in recruitment - you need to be able to separate the professional from the personal and deal with the rejection as it happens. Rejection can be disheartening and difficult to deal with, but the best recruiters learn from it and use what they’ve learnt to inform future decisions. The best recruiters take responsibility for their own successes and failures, and are able to see each outcome as an opportunity for development.


This doesn’t just mean exam results - it's having the ability to look at a situation, work out what’s happening and recognise what needs to be done. Having the initiative to take the correct action based on the information available is essential in recruitment, as processes can often require quick and informed decision making. Consultants working in the open market at SEC are largely in control of their own desks, their own processes and their own client relationships, so we always look for people who can work to guidelines, but are also confident working independently.

The X-Factor

You’ve got to have something about you! Recruitment isn’t just about picking up the phone and asking the right questions, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi that great recruiters have. As well as having a great work ethic, understanding of the role and a commercial mindset, we’re looking for a great personality fit too. You’ll be responsible for building and maintaining a rapport with our clients and candidates, understanding their personal situations and requirements and acting on them personably; often something like introducing humour at the right time can be exactly what a situation needs.

Someone who can demonstrate all of the above has the attributes of a great recruiter, and the learning and development programme at SEC is able to equip you with the rest. We’re always looking to hear from individuals who are hoping to start their career in recruitment, and we’re currently looking for applicants for our September training academy. If you think you have what we're looking for, submit your CV via the link below.