Essential skills for a post-pandemic recruiter

Recruiters are a resilient bunch, an attribute that is more valuable than ever right now. The world has gone through tremendous upheaval over the past year and, although the end may be in sight, we currently remain in the throes of the pandemic.

The recruitment world, too, has gone through enormous change. At times, hiring all but froze in many industries, the way we work has irrevocably altered, what employers want from their hires has shifted, even the way we recruit has changed. Staying relevant in a fast-changing world is essential to a recruiter’s survival and so, therefore, is the ability to learn and develop new skills.


From taking on other roles due to furlough to virtual interviewing and onboarding to working exclusively from home to switching focus while hiring was thin, recruiters have had to be more adaptable than ever before. The reality is that this will be the case for the next few years as we ride out the recession. The ability to pivot, to meet a rapidly changing market head-on and make quick decisions, is probably the most important skill a recruiter can have right now. 

Remote management

Whether you manage an internal team or a pool of candidates, remote management requires a very different set of skills. Clear and effective communication is key – it boosts morale and productivity and prevents people from feeling cut off. You will also need good listening, persuading and influencing skills. And of course, you will need sound digital skills to manage all the tech that comes with remote management. We’ve all had good practice over the past year but it is likely to set to continue with remote and flexible work being a key trend for 2021 and beyond.  

Creating a personal brand

We have talked many times about the importance of marketing your brand values in an increasingly competitive market. What individual recruiters need to do is create their own personal brand whilst simultaneously embodying the brand values of their agency. This should be reflected in everything you do online and in all the conversations you have with clients and candidates, both current and prospective. The ability to effectively market yourself and set yourself out from the crowd is an incredibly powerful skill. 

Analysing data

Data-driven decisions are becoming increasingly important in recruiting, whether it’s to establish where more efficiency could be made internally within your recruiting process or to ensure you are making the best job posting decisions. It will also help win over clients and establish trust. The right tech can collate and analyse that data for you, helping you to know when, where and what to post. It can also give you an insight into how your industry is performing, something that could give you leverage with clients.  

People skills

This is something a recruiter will always need – the human touch, those interpersonal skills that AI can’t recreate. Reaching out to both candidates and clients, forming, growing and maintaining those relationships, has been essential over the challenging months of the past year and should be something that every recruiter keeps working at going forwards. Recruiting is a people profession and so skills such as compassion, patience and empathy have always been important for a recruiter to have but 2020 really highlighted how essential they are. Given the way mental health has, thankfully, been put in the spotlight recently, those skills will be more important than ever.    


WaveTrackR data shows surprisingly strong job figures given the climate, but the market nevertheless remains weaker than it was pre-2020. With the furlough scheme winding up in April and a recession that will last for many months to come, unemployment is set to rise. The temptation may be to lower your rates, and some clients might try to drive you down. However, it is important to value your services and hold your ground. That takes a strong will and good negotiation skills. The ability to know your worth and sell it, convincing clients that your services are worth the price, is hugely valuable for a recruiter.

Diversity and inclusion

Is diversity a skill? Is inclusivity an attribute? An article in the AESC (Association of Executive Search and Leadership Consultants) magazine has dubbed inclusion “the most important skillset of our time”. To help lead the charge for inclusion and diversity in the workplace, you first have to have diversity of thought. In this way, you can help clients recruit diversely – something that benefits everyone.

Digital skills

This is something workers across all industries will have to invest in. The pandemic accelerated digitalisation and much has moved into the virtual world. This, like flexible working, is unlikely to change. Although we will see a return to face-to-face meetings and interviews when it is safe to do so, many businesses are planning on retaining remote working in some capacity so recruiters need to know how to operate a suite of tech effectively.

The world has undergone seismic change over the past year but it was already beginning to change before the pandemic forced those changes to accelerate. Ultimately, recruiters will need to become much more than talent acquirers. They need to be a trusted advisor, business partner, creator of solutions. Your value – and how you can compete in a crowded market – is in the full range of services you can offer a client and that requires an expanded skill set. 

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