What I Learned While Working as a Full Desk Recruiter

I have no shame in admitting that running a full recruitment desk is tough. I would say that it is one of the most demanding jobs as it requires you to have so many varied skills to be successful. Full desk recruiters these days need to be marketers, personal brand specialists, salespeople, hostage negotiators, personal assistants, headhunters and community builders, all sometimes in one morning. This is incredibly tough to do, but the role requires that we are always multitasking, with a smile on our faces, as don’t forget that we are in a people facing role too.

Let’s break this down so you can understand what I mean about these different ‘hats’ that full-service Recruiters need to wear:

  • Marketers: Internal and agency recruiters both need to have highly developed marketing skills. Internal recruiters are constantly marketing their company and are often responsible for the employer branding of the business. Agency recruiters are the unofficial marketers for their clients, so they need to market their client in the most exciting way possible. Let’s face it, no one wants to work for a boring company, but if recruiters can honestly sell their clients as dynamic, entrepreneurial and cutting-edge companies, candidates will be more interested in working for them, right?
  • Personal Brand Specialists: This role is twofold in my opinion. Recruiters need to ensure that they have a reliable brand themselves. As recruiters, you spend a large percentage of your day cold calling companies who you are trying to sell your recruitment services too, or you are phoning candidates that you have never spoken before. The first thing these people will do when you hang up the phone will be to check out your online footprint. They will go to your LinkedIn profile to learn more about you and to assess your online reputation. If you have a good personal brand, people will be more willing to engage with you.

Recruiters are also responsible for helping their candidates to build a strong personal brand. A lot of candidates these days are not very tech savvy and have not established an online presence for themselves. When recruiters refer CVs to clients, the first thing a lot of them do is Google, the candidate. I am hoping that the recruiter has done this already and picked up any potential problems with the candidate’s privacy settings on any of their social media accounts. I would also then encourage recruiters to encourage or coach their candidates on how to build a personal brand before they submit the CVs to their clients.

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  • Salespeople: Full desk recruiters can be classed as salespeople. They sell on a daily basis, whether it is convincing a candidate to leave a job, where he is probably perfectly happy, for an opportunity that he just cannot refuse, to selling this fantastic candidate to our clients. Recruitment requires constant selling to a lot of people. Not only do recruiters need to have excellent people skills to understand how to sell to different personalities, but they also need to understand their client and the candidate so well that they can persuade the decision maker that this match is one ‘made in heaven,’ for both parties.
  • Hostage Negotiators: This is the stage in the recruitment process which is often thought to be the most challenging. Your candidate has been successful, and you are about to present the offer, on behalf of your client, to them. This situation I often liken to a hostage situation as there are so many variables that come into play at his point. The recruiter will have to answer any questions about the contract; continue to ‘sell’ the role and the client to the candidate and to manage the client’s expectations when the candidate asks for more time to think about the opportunity. This is a very delicate part of the recruitment process, and recruiters need to be able to negotiate better than any hostage negotiator has had to do in the past.
  • Personal Assistant: Let’s not forget all of the behind the scenes admin which goes into the smooth running of this recruitment process. Recruiters are continually harassing candidates for documents and chasing their clients for feedback and interview slots. This is without mentioning the referencing, background checks and other admin that has to take place for every candidate. This is often the one skill that full desk recruiters hate and will leave until last as it doesn’t fit in well with their sales personalities.
  • Head Hunters and Community Builders: Headhunting, or executive searching, is another skill which has to be mastered by any full desk recruiter. This can cause a lot of banter, probably born out of rivalry between a full desk recruiter and a sourcer because recruiters need to source as part of their role where this is the only focus for a sourcer. Recruiters need to be courageous enough to pick up the phone and to source someone who they need to fill their open positions.

Recruiters also need to be able to network and to grow a community in their chosen area of specialization. Are they being invited to present at conferences as thought leaders in their chosen fields? This is a great way to build respect and to meet people with the skill set that you most commonly recruit.

As you can see, working as a full desk recruiter is not for everyone. If you feel that you have the diverse range of skills needed for this role, I can assure that you will not look back. The larger the challenge, the bigger the reward or feeling of satisfaction, right? This is 100% true in full desk recruiting, and I recommend it to anyone who thinks they are tenacious enough to be a success in this career.

Vanessa is determined to bring the ‘Human Element’ back into today’s Recruitment Process. She believes that people are the core building blocks of every business but that doesn’t mean that we can treat every ‘block’ the same.

Vanessa has over 10 years’ experience in the Recruitment Industry and has specialized in the IT Applications space for most of this time. Before starting her career in Recruitment, she taught unruly children in London; operated a chairlift in the USA and taught people to Scuba Dive in SE Asia.

She has recently moved into the Internal Recruiting space to focus on her latest passion for Employer Branding; Talent Attraction and Social Media Marketing. Vanessa loves presenting about these topics and sharing her knowledge, and experiences, with others.

Vanessa’s non-profit Side Hustle is co-hosting South Africa’s longest running Twitter Chat, #JobAdviceSA. This is a weekly chat that has helped several Youth to put a CV together; to interview better and to find jobs.  Vanessa’s mantra is “Life is too short to work in boring jobs….” The same attitude can be applied to the way she has lived her life and how she tackles each day.

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