Sciolism: The Recruitment Superpower

Sciolist: A person who pretends to be knowledgable and well-informed.

Sciolism is one of those traits successful Recruiters have but don’t realise they have.

Some Recruiters come from careers in industry and have first hand knowledge of the sectors they recruit into. A legal Recruiter coming from a law background for example.

The vast majority of Recruiters however, are specialists at placing people into jobs. Most are far from qualified to do the job themselves. You may get the odd Recruiter who completes a two day course to earn credibility, but it’s a long shout from being in the industry yourself.

Need an example? Sure.

There aren’t many medical Recruiters you’d be comfortable looking at, while your eyes softly close before a major operation. Similarly, most Financial Recruiters would make a hash of worldwide banking systems, given the chance. Though, in fairness, it might not get too much worse.

Recruiters do not need to understand how to actually do the jobs that they fill, they do, however, need to have a very good understanding of the job at a superficial level.


1. To convince their network they can fill roles, and place them in jobs

2. To recognise what makes a great candidate

3. To be able to to sell: the job, the candidate, the company

Without a basic level of superficial knowledge, it’s impossible for Recruiters to stand a chance of being successful. This can make the first few weeks for a new starter in the industry daunting and difficult.

Reading Woods

‘Fake it until you make it’

As a new Recruiter starting out, you’ll no doubt have a brief introduction to the market courtesy of everyone’s digital friends Wikipedia and Google.

However you should be using candidates to build up your understanding of the industry. Essentially, speak to people about what they love. Good Recruiters are able to absorb snippets of information from one call and recycle it in the next. 

Whether it’s the latest market trend or a candidate’s frustrations with their role, each call should enable you to gain the ammunition to use the very next time you pick up the phone.

For those Recruiters who prefer to get out to meet candidates, which I assume is most, networking events and MeetUps are the singular best way to immerse yourself in a niche. There will be hundreds of individuals, all different, all great contacts to have and all probably willing to wax lyrical about their job.

All you have to do is listen.

In the early days you may not even fully understand what you hear, but you should be able to recall sentiments from one person and rephrase it as a question or an observation to the next. This will instantly help to give you credibility.

Along with growing your network immeasurably, with exactly the right type of people.

Everyday’s a School Day

Good recruitment process dictates if you ask open questions, in general, you’ll get answers with lots of information.

People enjoy talking about themselves. So, you can learn a lot very quickly if you ask the right questions.

A thirst for knowledge will turn you into a great Recruiter. This doesn’t mean just asking about a candidate’s situation. Rather, asking questions about everything you don’t already know, which will be a lot.

If you ask the pertinent questions, you’ll have the right information when, a candidate or client asks you.

Your notepad should be full of scribbles about industry and technology when you start out in recruitment (and probably forever after).

Top tip: make sure you’re organised enough to make these notes digitally and you can refer to them again and again. Even after you spill that Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato everywhere on a hazy Monday morning. Here’s an article with a great note product I use myself.

Man Reading Cafe

Thirst For Knowledge

When speaking to your network, professing you’re not an expert, but recognise the other person is will do you a lot of favours. Candidates and clients alike can often be put out when their Recruiter doesn’t have the knowledge to present them well. They will never be put out with a Recruiter who asks to learn more.

By doing this, you’ll make allies, tutors and friends of your network. 

If asked directly and courteously, you’ll be amazed at the level of knowledge you’ll attain simply by asking for it. And guess which Recruiter a client of candidate will want to work with in the future? The one who knows about them and their job in depth, or the one who went straight in with a cold call pitching for business?

Recruiter Superpower

A real recruitment superpower is the ability to retain information.

If you find it easy to recall information from previous conversations, you already have a head-start in recruitment. You should be able to achieve more, more quickly, than other Consultants.

Whether it’s reactively pitching a candidate during a client meeting or reeling off a list of suitable opportunities for an active candidate.

Luckily, if you don’t have a great memory, tech products and hacks exist to make your life easier. The simplest of these is a pen and paper. Staggeringly it’s probably not the cheapest however. There are free tools and products that can change your life for the better, right here.

Read Sea

Marathon, not a Sprint 

It can be a great head start for your first few months in recruitment to have an industry background. After all, you can never know too much about any one subject.

You’ll be more confident sitting in front of a client or candidate and will be able to hold your own in a professional discussion. However this advantage over ‘fresh-to-the-industry’ peers is short-lived.

Depending on the success and reach of the consultant’s previous career, there also may be a great network of people to help their recruitment career. This isn’t universal however.

Good industry knowledge is just one of the required attributes of a successful Recruiter but it’s far from the most important in comparison to sales ability, work ethic and a great process.

Information should be absorbed over time and the longer you’re in the industry, the more credible you become.

Have a look around the room you’re currently in. It’s highly likely those most successful working right next to you, also have the longest tenure in a specialism/team/company. Were they once working in the industry they place into? Probably not, they’ve specialised and continued to build on their knowledge, skill and network.

There are no correlations between top billers and Recruiters who’ve worked in their industry focus previously.

The most important correlation you will see in this industry is between hard work and results.


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