Recruitment skills: why a growth mindset is crucial

Anyone who’s worked in the recruitment sphere knows that being a full-fledged recruiter requires many skills. Recruitment skills are diverse when you think about the varying goals of the tasks recruiters need to carry out within the hiring process.

Recruiters may find themselves playing the role of marketer when trying to get improved visibility on their job advertisements; PR professional when hosting a company open day or attending a networking event; or sales rep when overcoming candidate objections, closing the deal and extending a job offer. The sheer breadth of recruitment skills means that many recruiters can comfortably call themselves a jack of all trades.

But when it comes to professional development, recruiters can feel as if they lack focus. Which skill should they develop first or which one deserves the most attention? In this post, we explain why taking on a growth mindset can help support a wider range of recruitment skills. We’ll explain what it is, how it can be applied to your hiring process, and what core qualities you may want to develop.

What is a growth mindset?

“Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset.” In short, a growth mindset is a way of processing the information around you and interpreting it in a way that will help you grow.

Those with a growth mindset look at change and see it as an opportunity to learn, develop skills, and (surprise!) grow. Over time, the skills gained from approaching adversity and change with this attitude can be applied to achieve success. A mindset is a way of processing information and, because growth is a mindset, it takes time to develop. It can be tough (if not impossible) to switch from processing information one way one day to another the next.

Developing a growth mindset should be seen as a process. There are a few steps along the way or a few core qualities that can help work towards developing this mindset.

People with a growth mindset share the following attributes:

  • Curiosity and creativity.
  • Ambition to develop, learn, and do better.
  • Perseverance, resilience, and determination.
  • Desire to collaborate and learn from others.

Below we will discuss why these qualities should be seen as compatible with recruitment skills and actually may add a few additional skills to your hiring toolset.

Growth & recruitment skills

A growth mindset is undoubtedly important to individual development. But why is this desire to always be learning, developing, and changing important in recruitment? Well, in the words of Richard Branson: “Hiring the right people takes time, the right questions, and a healthy dose of curiosity.” Below we break this statement into  growth mindset components:


We all know that finding the right talent and making good hires is challenging. Every element of the recruitment process requires resilience, determination, ambition, creativity, curiosity, and experimentation to constantly understand what drives success. In addition to your more traditional recruitment skills, three core growth skills should be added to your toolbelt: experimentation, data, and creativity.


2Below we’ll explore a few ways to apply these three core skills in your hiring process and how they can benefit your recruitment skills.

1- Experimentation

One of the cornerstones of a growth mindset, experimentation is all about curiosity and the ambition to learn more. Experimentation, in any context, consists of the following steps:

  1. Observation: This is any phenomenon or trend that you may observe in your daily work. It should be thought-provoking or unusual. Ideally, it will be something to improve or change.
  2. Question: After making an interesting observation, you may have a question as to why this phenomenon occurs.
  3. Hypothesis: This is an educated guess, using all the resources at your disposal, or prediction as to why this phenomenon happens.  It has to be measurable and testable.
  4. Test: Test your hypothesis, controlling certain variables and measure the results.
  5. A conclusion from results: After testing your hypothesis, you will be able to determine whether or not your initial hypothesis was correct.

How does this work in a recruitment environment? Here’s an example:

  • Observation: You observe that you are not getting as many candidate applications for certain vacancies.
  • Question: Why are you not getting more candidate applications for x vacancy?
  • Hypothesis: You are getting fewer candidate applications for x vacancy because the job advertisement doesn’t have a salary range.
  • Test: Place a salary range on the job advertisement, measure within the same initial time frame, how many applications come in.
  • A conclusion from results: You draw the conclusion that with the salary range on the job advertisement, applications went up by 20%.

Of course, this is only a simple example. But experimentation can be applied to various parts of the recruitment process and assist in troubleshooting any problem areas you may encounter.

Additionally, it’s important to see the value in continuous experimentation. If your fictitious experiment of receiving more candidate applications with a salary range (see above) didn’t yield any results, try something else: advertise on different job boards, join specialist professional groups, run paid advertisements on Facebook… the list of potential experiments could go on.

Experimentation is an important skill for any recruiter. Without experimentation, improvements are based on chance and guesswork. Use experiments to make your work more efficient, effective, and accurate.

2- Data

Data isn’t a skill in and of itself. But valuing it, collecting it, and analyzing it is. Data comprises of a large part of the growth mindset and without it, experimentation would not be of any value. Collecting data is one of the first steps toward making informed decisions.

In the past, data has been particularly sparse in recruitment. However, with a great ATS behind you, there are tons of hiring metrics you can be tracking. (If you’re not using it already, you may want to use time to hire as your guiding hiring metric!) It’s simply a question of which ones you want to track, and where you would like to improve.

An affinity towards data will help you gather the knowledge necessary to make more informed decisions. Want to figure out what your best performing social channels are when it comes to sourcing candidates? Assign tags to each of your candidates in your ATS and generate reports based on these tags to track the number of candidates coming in from each channel. When collected and analyzed appropriately, data can help you work faster and smarter.

3- Creativity

Creativity can be a tough quality to develop. For some it seems to come naturally, others need a little inspiration. But creativity and the ability to think outside of the box is a fundamental element of a growth mindset. It demonstrates an innate curiosity and a desire to learn more.

From a recruitment perspective, harnessing creativity can mean a number of things. It could mean looking at how you approach candidates and finding a way to “wow” them from the first impression. It could also mean spicing up your employer branding and taking a swing at creating your very first recruitment video. Or it may be putting yourself in a candidate’s shoes to work on improving the candidate experience. Creativity can also mean collaborating with colleagues in a new way to make the hiring process smoother and bring in a higher caliber of talent.

Creativity will bring your team a competitive advantage when it comes to recruiting. Working with your team to find creative perspectives to new challenges and creative takes on old problems, will keep you thinking on your feet.

Growth to help build recruitment skills

Thinking and working in another way doesn’t happen overnight. It can be a long process and can even span an entire career. However, as you begin to build on your recruitment skills, developing a growth mindset can not only expedite this process but bring you more data-driven success in your day-to-day as well.

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