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Instinct – Are Recruiters Born With It?

Earlier in the year, I wrote about some of the qualities I think you need to be a successful recruiter in my blog post “10 Tips On How To Become The World’s Best Recruiter”. It wasn’t an exhaustive list by any means; in fact I intend for it to be a series of posts, diving deeper into what it takes to succeed in this sometimes brutal industry.

Recently though, I’ve found myself having to call upon one quality more often than usual to successfully find my clients the perfect candidates: INSTINCT. Instinct when it comes to researching and identifying talent, and matching the right people with the right employers. It’s a skill so important to a recruiter, that it can be the difference between winning or losing a client… or even putting food on the table at home.

It’s an important skill to understand from both the budding recruiter’s and hopeful candidate’s perspective.

Recruiter Types

In my experience, recruiters tend to fall into one of three buckets when it comes to instinct:

  • They have great instincts (Type 1)
  • They think they have great instincts (Type 2)
  • They wish they had better instincts (Type 3)

It’s true, there are Type 1s in the world – some people seem to be born with intuition, especially when it comes to crafting relationships with other people. They’re gifted at reading others, and don’t seem to have to put any effort into it. Type 2s are your typical, effective salespeople who have so much confidence in themselves that they think have great instincts (we all know a few of these). Type 3s are usually struggling from some form of crisis of confidence – maybe they’ve placed a few candidates sent back their way, or lost a client. Maybe they’re always rock-bottom on the sales whiteboard in the office.

You might think that you can only fit into one of these buckets – that you’re either gifted with intuition, oozing self-confidence, or in a constant state of struggle in your career. But what if I told you the three states of being didn’t have to be mutually exclusive? What if you can use a combination of two or even all three to improve your instincts?

“Instinct” (note the air quotes)

At this point, I’m going to get the inverted commas out. Because I don’t actually believe in “instinct” in the classic sense of the definition:

Take it from wikipedia:

instinct, noun“an innate, typically fixed pattern of behaviour in animals in response to certain stimuli.”

If we’re applying this to recruiters, then this would suggest that we have what we are born with: a fixed, unchangeable quality when it comes to reading clients, business needs, candidates, CVs and the web inbetween. This would suggest Type 1s would win out every time, destined to become the best with little competition. Type 2s would fare well, but ultimately never make it to the top. As for Type 3s, well, they should never have got into this world in the first place.

Of course, it helps if you’re born a Type 1 in our world. Some people are born with an innate gift to interact with others, reading and persuading them with ease, and yes, this goes a long way in recruitment.


BUT – I’m here to tell you that what you think to be “instinct” in recruitment is total BS. You are not born with or without instinct in the recruitment world. You can’t just rock up on day be the best recruiter in your field, or run a successful business. There’s a secret ingredient which counts for much more than any natural charm, gift of the gab, or plain good looks. Ladies and gents, I present to you:

Hard work.

No matter what you were born with, your ability to read a room, a client and their employment needs, or the seemingly perfect candidate, depends on working your ass off. It may be cliché, but practice makes perfect. Make more calls, get more face time with clients, take a class, read more books (this one by Darren Hardy is a good start), watch TED talks (start with this talk by Carol Dweck on the “growth mindset”), hell, listen to Gary Vee every morning if it does it for you.

Find what works for you. My point is: the more you work on it, the better your so-called “fixed instinct” will improve. It’s guaranteed. Everybody who was ever success at anything has followed this path. I’ve felt this shift myself: I wasn’t born a Type 1 (Type 2, since you’re asking) but with the drive and determination to be the best recruiter and businessman I can be (and always improving), I’ve worked my way up to become a Type 1 and a leader in my sector.

My instincts, honed over more than 10 years, allow me to scan CVs more efficiently. They allow me to tell the difference between a genuine, quality candidate and a bullshitter in the time it takes to drink my morning coffee. They allow me to read in-between the lines of what a client’s recruitment headache is, and provide the solution they actually need, not just what they think they need. Most importantly, they allow me to marry all the above, and find the right candidate for the right employer, every time.

The proof is in the pudding: I work with some of the biggest training providers in the UK, and my clients are ecstatic with the quality of candidates I have placed for them.


Found this article useful? I’m always keen to hear your thoughts – leave a comment below and I’ll always get back to you.

Are you a training provider in Further Education with recruitment needs? Contact me today at and I’ll call you right back for a quick chat.

We’re interested in speaking to the right recruiters to jump aboard Carson Recruitment. Send me an email telling me what ‘Type’ you are at


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