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A competency can be defined as the ability to do something successfully. I believe great recruiters require the same set of competencies to recruit talent but their strength in skills differ.

For the purposes of this article, let’s think of skills as one of many facets that make up a competency.

Whether you are an agency or in-house recruiter, you are still responsible for finding, cultivating and building talent. Agency recruiters might be naturally stronger in certain competencies than in-house recruiters (and vice versa) owing to their skills composition, but essentially the core competencies remain the same.

So, what are these core competencies?


Recruiters must have great market intelligence. They need to understand the available talent in the market and position they are hiring for. They need to understand the competition and where opportunities lie to network and locate new candidates. Great recruiters will know about redundancies and restructures before they are publicly announced and are actively working to find roles for those candidates.


Great recruiters are great assessors of talent. They use their market intelligence combined with their cognitive ability to understand the skills needed to do the role. Talent assessment of knowledge, skills and abilities will forever remain critical in any recruitment role.


Great recruiters are emotionally stable, strong willed and incredibly stubborn. We are survivors and because of that we don’t accept no for an answer. We can function effectively even when faced with rejection or stressful situations.

Resilience develops through experience, flexibility and the commitment to continuously learn but I believe it’s often inherent.


As resilience develops through experience, so does knowledge. As we gather more knowledge, we’re able to make finer, well-grounded decisions and so our performance improves. But, as the late, great Jim Rohn says, “Don’t let your learning lead to knowledge, let your learning lead to action.”


Recruiters spend a great deal of their time selling candidates to hiring managers. The art of negotiation is a muscle that great recruiters use on a weekly or even daily basis. A great recruiter will set the mood and tone to make the best candidate chase them and not the other way around.


Recruiters must be marketing experts. This starts with building a personal brand and positioning yourself as a thought leader in your market.

Emotional Intelligence

This is quite a broad area. The key here is the extent to which a recruiter empathises and understands the emotions and motivations that underlie human behaviour, i.e. how well they ‘read people.’


Recruiters are relationship builders. The modern recruiter must be comfortable with digital networking, video chats and other direct messaging platforms as well as the traditional phone and face to face methods.

In Summary

Many recruiters will have different levels of skill. If there’s one thing the most prolific recruiters have in common, whether they are agency or in-house, they are all incredible marksmen.