9 Practical Tips for Newbie Recruiters – 2021 Edition

1. Learn to talk and type.

I hear you, it’s faster to quickly hand write your interview notes and it makes the phone screen flow more easily. However, if it’s not in the ATS, it doesn’t exist, so you’re going to have to type your notes in the system after the phone screen, so it’s really not quicker.

As you develop your recruitment career, you will get to a point where you’re so busy, that you’ll be working late at night just to type up your notes, and really, who has time for that?


2. Sourcing is cool!

A lot of newbie recruiters think that candidates will apply and they will just have to review their CVs and call them. Wrong! And that’s a good thing, because, how boring would it get to do that all day. Learn and upskill yourself into the art of sourcing, you will learn so many interesting things about your market and your candidates.

Everything I know about marketing (enough to have an interesting conversation with a digital marketing manager) I have learnt through recruiting for marketing roles. Whether you’re doing keywords research (and googling what they are) or talking to candidates about what they do, you can learn an awful lot of interesting stuff. Don’t believe anyone who tells you that sourcing is “admin work”; it’s one of your highest value activity and bonus, it’s as close as it gets to being a detective!

On a side note, you can build a career as a Sourcer. A Sourcer is not a junior recruiter! Read Tris Revill’s blog Why Sourcers are… not baby Recruiters! – it’s one of our shared pet peeves.


3. Write down your pitch.

When I listen to newbie recruiter calls, I hear a lot of hem and err and ah. Write down your pitch about the company and the role, so that should you forget about it, you can refer to your notes and read from them if it’s a brand-new role you’re working. We don’t all get to be specialised, so if you navigate between an AR, a sales role and a localisation project manager in the same day, write down your script!

My personal preference is to use Powerpoint/Google slides. One slide for each job this way the text is pretty big and you don’t risk reading from another role/company.


 4. Your calendar is your best friend.

Your calendar is the 1st thing that you should open every morning and you should note everything in it.

I personally colour-code everything: phone screens (personal pet peeve: recruiters late for calls), hiring manager’s interview, sourcing time, one-to-ones and reminders for all the stuff I need to get done this week. People who know me know that if it’s not in my calendar, it won’t happen.

I also use emojis and charms a lot. It’s a one glance way of seeing what needs to be done. Our ATS doesn’t give us any reminders of ageing candidates, so my calendar’s status is my lifeline. If I have replied to the candidate after the phone screen, I’ll add a “tick” to the calendar reminder. However organised I am, sometimes I will forget things, so being able to quickly go back to the previous week to double check that I have got back to everyone is important.


5. Automate your scheduling.

If you can give your candidates easy access to your calendar to schedule their phone screens at a time that works for them, do it!

If your company is using Google for work, there is a dozen free scheduling tools that you can use. If your company is using Office 365, the number of options reduces drastically, especially if you’re a non-tech recruiter that cannot get budget for productivity tools.  

My scheduler of choice is Calendly (we use 365). When you set it up, you’re going to make mistakes like… not booking any time for lunch for yourself, not blocking off the weekends and the bank holidays (hello phone screen at 8pm on a Saturday), and not giving yourself buffer time between calls (back to pet peeve: recruiters late for calls).

Yes, we know candidates are mostly available during lunch time, so it can seem selfish to book your own lunch during these times. I am personally very flexible with my lunch break, but I still book it in my calendar, so I can keep that slot for candidates who really have no other availability. Eating your lunch at 3pm is a thing in recruitment.


6. Use template emails.

I have a template email for everything: scheduling the phone screen, scheduling interviews, regretting candidate after the screen, regretting applications, offer email, reference check email… everything. Save yourself time and mistakes by crafting nice emails that you can reuse times and times over. Why would you want to re-write all the directions to the office (or to the video conference software these days) every time you schedule an onsite interview??? You can add links for your candidate to prepare, and obviously they’re different depending on the role and the company, so get your templates ready!


7. Reply to all candidate applications.

I get it, we’re all busy, and that doesn’t seem like a high value activity to hit your target, but really, if you don’t value candidate experience, recruitment may not be the job for you. I don’t even know how to explain why this is important to reply to your candidates; at some point you have been or you will be looking for a job – how will you feel if no-one ever gets back to you? You get a negative answer, you move on to your next application, but if you don’t get any answer, how do you even know that your application has been received?

Do yourself a favour and review your candidates, you may have an absolute gem of a candidate in there, and while they may not be suitable for this role, they will be much more amenable to being contacted for another job if they received a nice response the first time.

Another pet peeve of mine: receiving a rejection email for a role I’ve applied for 6 months ago – true story, last time I changed job, I started in January, and received rejection emails all the way to July. How does that happen? ATS audits. Someone audited the candidates and the recruiters got a slap on the wrist and rejected all the “forgotten” candidates. Amazing candidate experience as you can imagine.


8. Build your personal brand.

Recruiters, particularly agency recruiters, are well known for not being active on social media. I’ve been hiring agency recruiters for the last 4 years, and let me tell you: the only place they are active online is LinkedIn. Queue, their Twitter account with their last tweet in… 2014. So, get on LinkedIn and post interesting content – NOT just jobs! What are your candidates interested in? What’s the news from your industry?

Ditch the “I only post professional stuff on social media” approach. Instead post interesting stuff – everyone can do with a good cat meme or a #BernieMeme this January (bonus point if it’s a Bernie with a cat meme) – my personal favourite is the Bernie with Totoro one. People buy from people, and recruitment is very much a sales business, so give your candidate a way to get know you. It makes for great ice-breakers with your candidates.

Open your LinkedIn and your Twitter direct messages! Why would you make a candidate pay to contact you or take a chance on @ tweeting you when you can make it easy for them to DM you?


9. Join the online recruitment community.

Yes, your manager is a successful recruiter with 10-15-20 years’ experience in recruitment. Does that mean they know everything and keep up to date with the latest recruiting tips and tricks? Nope!

You might be surprised to hear this, but the recruitment community is not the most active on LinkedIn (when you’re sharing tricks to get more off LinkedIn, you don’t want to get banned, right), so get your recruiter’s butt onto Twitter and Facebook. Start following people, join groups, read, bookmark, attend free online events and learn until you’re good confident enough to share your own tips. Here are a few places to get you started: Tris Revill’s Growth Hacking Recruiters, Hung Lee’s Recruiting Brainfood, and the Secret Sourcing Group on Facebook. Or you can read this post where I list all the people I think are worth following on Twitter when you want to learn about recruitment.