The Recruiter’s Toolkit: My Five Key Traits for All-Star Recruiters

The tools that today’s recruiters have at their fingertips are unprecedented. From handheld video chats on our smartphones to literal treasure troves of data, the game has changed quite a bit since I started with my team at Messina Group Staffing. Our team has been working with amazing talent for 30 years and counting, and we’ve seen a whole new world evolve around us.

It’s not the technology that separates good recruiters from great partners. Here are the top five essentials that make great players in staffing, recruitment, and hiring stand out.

Clarity is critical. Whether it’s writing a truly compelling job post or pitching a wonderful candidate, the value of our words has never been more important. In a recent interview with the Harvard Business Review, the Wharton School’s Peter Cappelli cites jumbled communication as the biggest problem with most hiring processes:

“I’d say the first thing we want to do differently is to be clear about our job requirements. That’s the biggest basic problem, right? And that is, we have a committee, we have five people we’re asking about what are we looking for in this job, what should somebody have? And we end up just adding up everything that everybody said among the five people, and we end up with these, you know, joke kind of job descriptions that are impossible to fill.”

Your work is only as good as your words: be clear, specific, and focused in your communications to forge quality connections.

Be patient and persistent. While our offices are stacked with tools to make our jobs easier, the staffing industry still requires navigating mazes of nuance and subtlety. The rules are ever-shifting, and the game can get frustrating. My team specializes in quick turnarounds of candidates, but that doesn’t mean the work is simple or even straightforward: they’ve simply learned to persist and stay focused, even when the stakes seem too high.


Confidence is key. Confidence tops the list of key recruiting skills at UndercoverRecruiter, and I couldn’t agree more. We work closely with both clients and candidates — at Messina Group Staffing, we place particular emphasis on high-touch relationships — and the best connections begin with a sense of sureness. Carry yourself with confidence in clients, candidates, and ultimately your own skills to make the biggest impact.

Stay curious — and never stop learning. As the job market and the tools we use to manage its data continue to evolve, fortune favors the curious with more emphasis than ever. We can always build upon our skills. For some inspiration, take a look at this guide from LinkedIn on the most critical skills — both hard and soft — for the workplace in 2019.

Don’t forget: we work with real lives. Sarah Benz, our director of recruiting at Messina Group Staffing, puts it so well: “If you think about it, when we are filling long-term, high-level positions, our work can change the direction of a person’s life. Recruiters need to understand the responsibility of recognizing candidates and clients as more than a number or business opportunity; they are humans who deserve respect and our best effort to make a connection good for both sides.”

As the people who help the job market ebb and flow, we are truly the ones that make a difference in people’s lives — it’s a heavy responsibility, and we’re lucky to have it.

Ellen Mullarkey

Ellen Mullarkey
Ellen Mullarkey is VP of business development at Messina Group Staffing.

Ellen Mullarkey

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