The Recruitment Clinic: How To Become An Expert

There are a lot of recruitment conversations that start something like this…

“Hi, I’m Martin, I’m a Recruiter, a specialist in the *insert any market here* space.”

I’ve got a couple of issues with this, and I know I’m not alone.

A client of mine once told me that he didn’t understand why candidates would lie about their salary. Once they get the job, the first thing they do is prove to their new employer that they were lying by hand over a P45 tax form.

Similarly, if your first claim in a recruitment conversation isn’t accurate, then you’re contributing to the lack of trust that causes so many issues for the industry.

Now, before you get all defensive and refer me to your network of 6,400 Biscuit Designers, I’m not saying you’re not an expert. I’m just saying that if you’re saying you are, you need to show it.

When you’re starting out in a new position, or in a new market, there’s going to be a period of time in which you’re not an expert.

So, what advice can The Recruitment Clinic provide for this conundrum? Here’s a step by step guide:

1. Remember what you do

You’re a Recruiter, which means you have to be an expert in recruitment above all other things. That’s what clients are going to pay you for, and your candidates aren’t expecting you to teach them how to optimise SEO.

2. Knowing your audience is as important as knowing your subject

I consider myself as an expert in aeronautical engineering… but only when I’m addressing the Clinic household (in that I can make over 2 different types of paper aeroplane). What I’m saying, is that if you’re the most experienced person in the conversation, it’s reasonable to position yourself as such.

3. But you really should know your subject

The problematic part of recruitment is that you’re going to have at least 2 subject areas to master. Firstly, you need to have an total mastery of the recruitment cycle, including possible problems, how they arise, and how to avoid them.

Secondly, you’ll need to become an expert in your market, and that is significantly more difficult. But it does come with time. And that’s the key. Time. The longer you recruit in one market, the more ‘expert’ you become. And the more you’re able to position yourself as such.

4. Never stop learning

Both your own line of business, and any market which you operate in, are constantly evolving. The one constant in business is change. So if you’re not learning, then you’re getting left behind. Like those people who still think time on the phone equals success. It may do, but it’s not an exact equation.

5. Always refer back to point number 2

It doesn’t matter who you are, or how much you know, there’s always someone out there who will know something you don’t, and if you’re too busy being the expert, you’re not going to pick that up.

6. Be Transparent

Let me clear one thing up. You’re not an expert in Fintech after 4 months of recruiting in the space. The one thing that I’m certain of if you’re a recruiter: you have a LinkedIn profile. And on it, anyone can see how long you’ve been doing what you’re doing.

So not being transparent is doing yourself and the industry a disservice. Think about the client you’re speaking to, looking at your LinkedIn profile when you’re on the phone. Still confident to call yourself an expert?

If so, you probably are. 

Everyone starts learning from the same point: “I know nothing!”

Fawlty Towers

Be honest about what you know, and then you’ll find people are more than happy to help you learn.

And before too long, you’ll start to be able to add value to those conversations. And then, a little further down the line, you’ll actually become an expert in your subject matter.

Oh, The Irony

When the day comes, you’ll stop feeling the need to tell people you’re an expert. It won’t be necessary any more, because they’ll get value and realise it for themselves. Your input will matter much more.

And for the time being, you can comfort yourself with the knowledge that you can be an expert in your job, as soon are you’re ready.

On Jan 28th of 2017, according to the Chinese Zodiac, the year of the Fire Rooster officially started. Characteristics for those born in the year are;

Trustworthy, with a strong sense of timekeeping and responsibility at work

For the remainder of the year, let’s all be a bit more ‘Fire Rooster’.


Martin Jones is a Recruiter. From 1999 onwards, he’s worked across multiple sectors and geographies, generating revenue and leading teams. He is a Partner at KnownFour, building a pioneering recruitment business.