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  • Writer's pictureLeah Saiful

Top 5 Skills to be a Great Recruiter

Great recruiters are a valuable asset to any company. They can provide a competitive advantage by connecting strong candidates with companies, allowing companies to focus on other business functions. Great recruiters are more than just salespeople - they are the first touchpoint for candidates and play a large role in their application experience, sometimes becoming a key factor in whether a candidate accepts an offer. Great headhunters are also a great advantage to candidates when looking for a new job - understanding the labour landscape best and being able to market candidates to showcase their ability to fill a certain position.

Many of us at TRIIIO do not come from HR or TA backgrounds, and simply took a chance at a new career in headhunting. What connects us is a strong work ethic, and a number of core skills and competencies that allow us to strive for success. If you’re interested in a career in recruitment, here are the top 5 skills you will need to build to become a successful headhunter:

1. Relationship-building

Relationship-building is a key competency that is assessed before joining TRIIIO, and is key in becoming an expert recruiter. This is more than just having strong communication skills - it is about being able to create a long-term relationship with your candidates and clients, and establish that you have their best interests at heart.

Many recruiters overlook the benefits of building long-term relationships with their candidates in particular, often prioritising the clients’ needs. However, at TRIIIO we have found that building a trusting relationship with candidates is often beneficial, and we have many candidates who turn to us when they look out for opportunities again after the initial interaction. Even if you are unable to place certain candidates at a given time, maintaining a close rapport can allow you to reach out to them again once new opportunities open up.

It is not just the candidate-side in which relationship-building is an important skill. Client relationships also benefit a working partnership as opposed to just being served. With close relationships, we find that providing consultation becomes significantly easier, and clients are likely to respect your opinion about certain candidates more. In order to create good relationships with both clients and candidates, honesty is the best policy. Both parties should be aware of the bigger picture, even if it’s ugly. This may mean sharing full salary budgets with the candidate, or telling a hiring manager that their budget is too small. This skill can also be built by ensuring consistent communication, and ensuring all expectations are managed to minimise disappointments.

2. Curiosity

While in many ways, curiosity is more of a personality trait than a skill, the ability to ask insightful questions to further understand company issues and candidate experiences is vital in becoming a successful recruiter. We strongly believe that curiosity can and should be taught in order to create the best experience for all stakeholders involved.

Asking questions is important in understanding the requirements and desires of both your candidate and client. By understanding both the big picture and the smaller details, a strong recruiter is able to pair suitable candidates to their clients, whilst remaining conscious of the ideal line to draw based on a number of factors such as internal equity and market trends. An ability to remain curious about the market also allows a great recruiter to understand their domain better, thus becoming a useful consultant and indispensable asset to their clients and candidates.

In this sense, curiosity is more than asking questions for the sake of it - to become an expert, it is extremely important to be able to ask the right questions. In order to grow this skill, the 5 Whys technique is a helpful tool to build the habit of understanding the root cause of certain issues. Another technique is to simply ask questions! Why is this candidate not looking out at this time? How did that company decide they needed to hire? While this may be a tiresome tactic at first, this is usually the easiest way to understand which questions are actually useful to close the role.

3. Resilience (Handling Rejection)

Rejection is always a bitter pill to swallow and as a headhunter, you’ll likely face a lot in the recruitment industry. With the number of candidates approached on a daily basis, there’s bound to be some fallout. Whether it’s candidates deciding to withdraw from the application process or companies freezing hiring with no warning, recruiters must be able to pick themselves up when the going gets tough.

To take each rejection personally is a dangerous habit - not only for your productivity, but also for your mental health and self esteem. As cliché as it sounds, it’s important to take each rejection as an opportunity for growth. Here at TRIIIO, we have all benefited from reading Mindset by Dr Carol Dweck, which advocates for an understanding that intelligence can be developed through a “growth mindset.” With this, it encourages readers to take obstacles and rejections as learning opportunities.

While the growth mindset is definitely helpful in the face of various challenges, sometimes a recruiter has to be able to put their hands up and understand that much of what happens throughout the recruiting process is simply out of their hands. Of course, this isn’t an excuse to deny responsibility - instead, great recruiters recognise when there is simply no more you can do to help a situation, other than mitigate any potential damage.

4. Bravery

At TRIIIO, we aim to create more value to our stakeholders by becoming consulting partners to our clients, as well as a guiding hand to our candidates. As a result, bravery and thoughtful disagreement are two of our top values that we use to guide our work. Consulting large companies with competing Talent Acquisition departments can be tricky, and requires a certain level of bravery to be able to do well. However, just as we must acknowledge our failures, we must also be capable of respectfully disagreeing with our customers and candidates when needed.

Bravery is not the lack of fear, but the ability to act in spite of it. Occasionally, recruiters are faced with unreasonable demands, and a great recruiter must be able to draw the ideal line for all parties involved. If a company’s benefits are resulting in a large candidate fallout, they must be consulted instead of turning a blind eye. Similarly, if a candidate is asking for a salary way above their market rate, advice must be given. By giving informed and sound advice, this skill helps to forge great relationships.

While some may say bravery is more of a trait than a skill, critical thinking and confidence in your abilities help immensely. Before making a suggestion, a strong recruiter must understand the whole picture surrounding the issue, and ensure the necessary research and preparation is completed in order to navigate any difficult conversations. The key is to not be afraid to disagree, and to encourage a respectful conversation surrounding tricky topics. By consistently committing to acts of courage, the skill of bravery is that will quickly grow.

5. Organisation

A great recruiter is always liaising with multiple candidates across a number of roles at any given time, so it’s important to ensure things stay organised. Not every individual can remember the 3-4 top skills required for 4-5 separate roles in addition to the multiple candidates you have to follow up on, so keeping things in order is often the best way to stay on top of your work.

Particularly in an agency, recruitment is a juggling act. With many different, ongoing demands, no candidate or role can slip between the cracks. It’s easy to become quickly overwhelmed, but staying organised helps efficient recruiters stay on top of their game. There are plenty of articles out there that tell recruiters how to keep their work in order, but at the end of the day it is down to what works best for you.

Here at TRIIIO, many of us heavily rely on Google Calendar to not only keep track of our events, but also to schedule in focus times to speak to new candidates, follow up with existing candidates, and write up cover pages. Our organisation also follows an agile style of working, working in sprints to ensure all our clients are served. With daily standup meetings, we address our completed tasks for the past day, our task list for the day ahead, as well as any roadblocks we’re facing. These sessions keep us accountable, whilst also pushing us to create daily to-do lists for the day.

At TRIIIO, we believe recruitment is more than selling jobs and closing roles. We strive to change lives when we move candidates into new careers, so it’s crucial we get the match right. While marketing is also an important part of being a recruiter, we have always felt this skill might not be amongst the top 5 needed to be a successful recruiter. When you zoom out and understand the core of both your candidates’ and clients’ needs, many will realise that a hard-sell isn’t necessary. Instead, the core of a TRIIIO Recruiter is empathy and a drive to do what is best for all parties involved. With the above soft skills, we strongly believe that the hard skills can be trained, thus creating all-star recruiters!


TRIIIO is a Malaysian recruitment firm focused on partnering with companies to find and recruit top talent and build their Software Engineering teams. For more information on how we can help you recruit Software Engineers in this candidate tight market, visit our service page. is a curated job board lovingly created by us at TRIIIO Recruitment to make your job search easier! Visit and start searching for Software Engineering jobs today!


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