Talent Acquisition

Is Being a Good Recruiter a Matter of Nature or Nurture?

I have often wondered whether success in recruitment is ascertained through nature or nurture; is there a definitive set of “recruitment genes”?

As a parent to two daughters, I often chat to them after school about their aspirations and future career choices. They are only 10 and 7, however they have already noted possible career routes into interesting areas such as “bakery owner”, “artist”, “horseriding teacher” and “marrying a banker from New York” (I think the latter comment was a joke by my 7 year old to watch my facial reaction!)

Natural or not?

The conversations led me to ponder whether the success I have had as a recruiter has been because of my natural abilities and traits, or learned behaviours through my education and training? I am not intending to list the usual clichés, by the way: eg. Sales, target driven…. These are all a given!

Having been certain all through my grammar school life that I wanted a career in either journalism or law, at 18 yrs old and with lower A level grades than predicted (bad timing getting a boyfriend *oops, sorry mum*) I kind of stumbled into my next few years without clear direction; although one thing was consistent- I worked hard genuinely (and played hard too!) and ensured I seized opportunities as they were presented to me.


However, my lack of A level prowess conversely did not make me unattractive to potential employers- in fact, I gained my first role in marketing before I had actually even completed my HND in Business. So what behaviours did I demonstrate to that firm?

My peers had all gone off for the summer to travel, work in bars, shops, clubs. Earn as much cash as possible for the summer. What did I do?

Shrewd in the long term, I took a placement over the summer at the Prudential paying £50 a week in a marketing assistant role. I still kept my part time jobs to sub my existence on Wed/Fri nights in a pub and Sundays in a shop (one of those that sells everything…)

So I demonstrated a long term view of how this would differentiate me from my peer group. I had a distinct advantage working the 6 weeks in a role I was eventually employed full time to do by another employer. It provided me with invaluable testimony and experience upon which to talk about. It also clearly showed I could do the role! My tenacity, focus and willingness to learn stood me in good stead. (and my pint pulling skills are quite poor, even for a brewer’s wife!)

Now, listen to the experts:

I asked two business owners who have a wealth of experience of recruiting, training and placing young people into employment, “What traits and behaviours are most important when identifying who you choose to represent?”

Nicole Plinston – Training Director, This is Prime:

Because we specialise in the sales industry, there are a number of key competencies we are always looking for when selecting candidates to work with and represent in our market sectors. The 5 areas we focus on when selecting candidates to represent are: presentation; relationship building & communication; influencing skills; methodology & logic; energy & drive.

We have a different, unique approach to sales recruitment, because we believe that developing talent is the key to sales success. If we can see a candidate has potential but doesn’t yet hold all the competencies we’re looking for, we help them build the skills needed by providing them with free training and development until they are ready to be put forward for a position with one or more of our clients.

Neil Clough, MD and motivational speaker, This is Prime:

“What advice do you give to 18 yr olds who are leaving college now about how to make themselves attractive to employers?

Focus on your core skills, and don’t be afraid to be different. Standing out makes you memorable. Think about how you can promote your key achievements to date, whether that be sporting achievements – societies you’ve led at college – academic achievements – supporting local communities / charities etc.

Approach every interview as if it’s your dream job & company, as this will influence the way you perform at interview. Your belief influences your behaviour, which in turn, impacts your result!

Ask questions in the interview, and listen & learn from the information they give you in their responses. You can then make your career decisions based on facts, not just thoughts. Finally, connect with leaders in the industry you’re interested in working in… LinkedIn and Twitter are great platforms to do this on.

Wise words from the owners of a business, which is striving to seek the next generation of talent in the market and collaborate with those in education to achieve their full potential. Radar ON.

Is natural talent easy to spot?

I think so. My radar alert goes off when I meet anyone who has shown natural flair – going the extra mile in any aspect; persistent; intelligent; inquisitive. These behaviours cannot be taught, surely?

In conclusion:

Do I think that recruiters are born to be, or are taught? I genuinely think it is nature that creates the best recruiters; if you are a good listener, if you are passionate about people, you will naturally be better than someone who isn’t those things as you will stand the test the time and have endurance. Just being a good sales person is not enough.

What do you think? Can a good recruiter be left to it with their natural talent? Does training within recruitment enhance natural ability and can this be altered? At what point as an employer do you stop and think, this person cannot benefit from being trained to do “this” role? How do YOU spot natural talent?

By Lysha Holmes

Lysha Holmes is founding director of Qui Recruitment established in 2005 to completely challenge the traditionally poorly perceived service offered by other Rec 2 Rec providers. Lysha as Qui Recruitment is dedicated to representing the best talent to the best suited roles, focussing on placing recruiters of all levels in a candidate led service across the NW.