Hire A “Warrior” Recruiter? Not? Bambi?

I?m helping someone hire a contract recruiter in the communications technology field and I was asked what they should look for in a great recruiter. Here is my response. If you believe that there is a war for talent it’s only logical that you would hire someone with a “warrior? mentality to be your recruiter. There are many types of recruiters in the world and they all have their place. My preference is to hire “aggressive” recruiters. I call them warrior recruiters (others call them “headhunter” types). They see recruiting in a different light than most other recruiters and HR types. They have a different skill set, attitude and approach. If you happen to be the market for a warrior, here some things you might look for. EXPERIENCE They have:

  • experience working at an executive search firm
  • worked in a ?fee-for-service? environment
  • previous “outside” sales experience
  • cold calling experience
  • market research (focus groups, surveys and interview) experience
  • a 90+% candidate closing rate
  • customer service experience
  • been a recruiter for at least one year
  • experience in trading and brokering deals
  • often successfully competed in competitive sports or activities
  • often been members of Toastmasters or have taken “Dale Carnegie type” classes


  • extensive knowledge and interest in sales and marketing tools and strategies
  • in depth knowledge of labor markets, unemployment rates, recent and pending layoffs
  • information about why people begin in a job search, leave a job and accept an offer
  • extensive knowledge of their firm’s (and the competitors) products and customers as well as their strengths and weaknesses
  • technical and industry knowledge beyond other HR professionals
  • a comprehensive list of successful candidate “finding, assessment and convincing” tools. They know ?why? each works and fails
  • knowledge of which firms train and develop the best talent as well as those firms that are weak at developing and keeping people
  • the ability to remember names and faces and people remember them
  • an extensive list of friends and contacts at all major firms in the area
  • knowledge of ethical standards and employment laws


  • hate to lose/ fail and take each failure personally. They remember even minor failures
  • do the “hard stuff” first
  • love competition and beating the “other” guy
  • are aggressive, outgoing and have a high sense of urgency
  • compete against themselves and are dissatisfied unless they are continually improving
  • love metrics and pay for performance
  • hate process, paperwork, bureaucracy and too many approvals
  • work hard 24/7 but they always find time to play hard also
  • see every person they meet as a ” someday” hire
  • ?under promise and over deliver?
  • would rather ask forgiveness than permission
  • are a “find a way” person with few excuses
  • would refer their best friend or their worst enemy for the appropriate job
  • are an optimist and they don’t take “no” for an answer (especially to the question… I’m not looking for a job?)
  • respond favorably to an opportunity to prove their skill and abilities in order to get a job/ opportunity
  • often get frustrated by the ?process mentality? and lack of ?courage? that is often exhibited by most ?overhead? function professionals
  • expect to be given difficult assignments with little preparation
  • love challenge, growth, risk and learning
  • never hesitate when asked to ” raid” another firm for talent


  • will call candidates at home after nine clock and not feel guilty
  • talk to people everywhere especially on airplanes, on rental car shuttles and at professional events
  • return all phone calls and emails within 24 hours
  • know the answer to most business questions and if not, they know someone who does
  • are constantly on the phone especially between 5 and 7 p.m.
  • are on the Web at least three hours a day
  • are constantly in contact with friends and acquaintances
  • are members and actively participate in recruiting listservers and chat rooms
  • subscribe to the electronic recruiting daily
  • constantly anticipate and forecast the future
  • are confident and aggressive during interviews and meetings. They love public speaking
  • are members of professional HR organizations (SHRM, EMA etc.), leagues and clubs
  • get over 50 emails and 15 phone calls a day
  • own a cellphone, a beeper, a laptop and a PDA
  • talk to all new hires and rejects to assess customer service and what worked
  • often attends social/ civic events and is well-known in the community

Remember – “a recruiter is just a salesperson with a crummy budget” If you are a conservative type and are having a ?cow? over this concept/ list or if you don?t believe there is a war for talent, at the very least be prepared. For if you are in direct competition with a warrior recruiter? now you know what the competition looks like! Either eat lunch or be lunch.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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