12 Competencies Shared by Exceptional Recruiters, According to LinkedIn’s Recruiting Leaders

October 15, 2020

The role of the recruiter has evolved a lot over the past decade, shifting from largely transactional to highly strategic. Recruiting professionals now have a real opportunity to strategically advise the business on talent matters, rather than just writing down what their hiring managers want. This is exciting, but it also requires recruiters to develop different competencies than they might have needed when they first got into the field if they want to remain at the top of their game.

Erin Scruggs, senior director of talent acquisition at LinkedIn, has spent the last few years considering and codifying what excellence looks like for recruiters today. This began as a part of a push to foster a culture of continuous learning in her team through a program called Recruiter Excellence. 

“It started with watching LinkedIn Learning content,” Erin says. “We were in offices at the time watching learning content together and then having a discussion or a debrief. We had some book club kind of things — podcasts and curated content by folks on our team — and that evolved to becoming more, ‘Hey, how do we learn from each other?’”

LinkedIn already had career performance profiles (CPPs) in place for recruiters, but as the role of the recruiter evolved, these CPPs were no longer reflective of the work they were doing. Inspired by the learning sessions and aiming to align expectations, Erin and the Recruiter Excellence team began compiling the Book of Recruiter Competencies (or BoRC for short). The BoRC is designed to help the LinkedIn recruiting team understand what’s possible and equip them with the tools needed to reach their full potential — elevating the function as a whole. And in the latest episode of Talent on Tap, Erin joined Brendan Browne, LinkedIn’s VP of global talent acquisition, to provide a peek inside the book’s pages:

Here are the recruiter competencies Erin and the Recruiter Excellence team identified — and what they’re doing to instill them in the recruiting function at LinkedIn.

The competencies: The BoRC includes a mix of functional and foundational recruiter competencies

The BoRC outlines twelve core competencies that all LinkedIn recruiters should aspire to master. These are broken down into both functional competencies — traits that typically make a great teammate, regardless of role — and foundational competencies, which are recruiter-specific: 

Foundational competencies

  • Commits to continuous evolution
  • Contributes to a culture of curiosity
  • Demonstrates agility

Functional competencies

  • Identifies and assesses talent
  • Applies LinkedIn product expertise
  • Leads with data
  • Solutions oriented
  • Operationally savvy
  • Champions diversity, inclusion, and belonging (DIBs)
  • Influences and advises
  • Negotiates win-win scenarios
  • Creates memorable experiences

Combined, the functional competencies are designed to enable recruiters to execute on goals using an arsenal of tools, navigate systems and sub-systems effectively, and expertly manage relationships.

“The recruiter competencies are really articulating, what does it take to be best on the planet?” Erin says.

The method: The BoRC outlines behaviors associated with each competency, reinforced through learning content

To help LinkedIn recruiters understand what each competency looks like in practice, the BoRC also includes examples of specific behaviors associated with them. For example, when it comes to championing DIB, the BoRC includes detailed descriptions of how a recruiter can be an advocate for diversity and inclusion, positively influencing the business and driving those around them to adopt more equitable and inclusive behaviors. 

Erin doesn’t expect the team to develop and refine all the competencies overnight. After all, it takes time to master any craft, and recruiting is no exception. Instead, she’s focusing on helping the team strengthen one competency each month. Managers are encouraged to have coaching conversations with their recruiters to identify areas of opportunity and motivate them to invest in their own development. At the same time, the recruiters gain access to a library of resources that they can draw on to develop these skills.

“[We say] hey, here are the live online classes that you can take,” Erin explains. “Here are the podcasts you can listen to; here's LinkedIn Learning content and the learning journey that you can take in your pursuit of mastery for this specific competency… Whatever your learning modality, there's content there that helps you get where you need to go.”

To learn more about why each competency is significant and how the Recruiter Excellence team is driving them, don’t miss the next episode of Talent on Tap, where Brendan and Erin will take a deeper dive into one competency outlined in the book — influencing and advising.

Final thoughts:

While every company is likely to value slightly different competencies in its recruiters, depending on its mission and values, Erin is hopeful that the BoRC will help and inspire other recruiting leaders to drive excellence and support their teams’ continual growth. 

“Creating a culture of learning is not about the size of your organization,” she says. “It's about stating that as an explicit value and then marching to that value and making sure that you're showing up and leading with that value week over week, month over month, year over year.”

At LinkedIn specifically, Erin envisions the BoRC as a roadmap for not only enhancing the recruiting function, but the organization as a whole. 

“We have this really unique opportunity,” she says. “If we hire the right people, then teams get great. If teams get great, then products get great. If products get great, then we live up to our company vision of enabling economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. I think there's this massive opportunity in front of us, just by doing our jobs.”

Talent on Tap is a video series in which Brendan Browne breaks down the hottest topics and biggest challenges in the talent industry. Talent on Tap will also give you an opportunity to hear from other organizational leaders, subject matter experts, and thought leaders in the space.

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