Recruiter is a relatively new position in the field of human resources. Regardless, the demand for recruiters is high – almost every business is looking for one.

99.8% of Estonian businesses are small or medium-sized enterprises with up to 249 employees. The general rule is – the smaller the organisation, the more universal the HR function role, and the employee must be hands-on. They must keep up with development activities, document management, recruitment, and brand management.

But how to juggle all these roles, while meeting the needs of the business? By working smartly and systematically, automating everything possible with modern tools to be able to focus on the more important questions.

So, which skills should be developed to improve recruiting competence and get outstanding results while maintaining one’s sanity as a recruiter?


Know your market

On the idiosyncratic Estonian labour market, one must learn and put in work to become a good recruiter – we know this from personal experience.* The local specificities and culture do not make the online-famous US and Western European approaches worthless, but these alone do not allow a recruiter to work efficiently in the conditions of such a small market.

While most learning materials mainly stress the importance of sourcing, which would help find 2,000–4,000 responses from the local market alone, ours is not as large. The same method yields 40–100 people in Estonia. If you are lucky. Hence, we need to focus on networking as well.

The network of relationships you create does not involve HR managers, it consists of possible candidates. A good recruiter for a small market has the whole information at their fingertips, they know exactly what the talents are up to, and where they are at a given moment. If you work knowingly and proactively every day, you can acquire the necessary contacts to keep up with the information field in about a year. Meanwhile, most of the work is not about finding new contacts, it is about keeping an eye on the passive candidates. The main characteristic of the Estonian market is that active job seekers are just the tip of the iceberg for a recruiter. Most of the work is done with passive candidates.

In the context of the Estonian market, 20% of recruiter’s time should be spent on sourcing activities, and 80% on managing their network. A skilled recruiter should be the first one to reach out when an experienced developer starts to think about changing their job. The developer has the energy to communicate with only a certain number of interested parties, therefore, piquing the developer’s interest becomes tougher for every next person to contact them.


Sourcing is like thinking before you speak. Everybody is discussing it, but few have tried it themselves.
Sourcing is the basis of recruiting activities. In short, this involves the skills to find suitable candidates via online channels, cleverly using the right search queries in the right place. A Pareto principle of sorts applies here as well: one must carefully choose the 20% to focus on, i.e., pick the right channels, tools and searching methods to get 80% of the results. For example, a recruiter should have good command of Google X-Ray and Boolean operators.

In Estonia, sourcing is usually a job for the recruiter or an HR employee. As they have an excellent overview of the market, sourcing experts do not spend much time on searching, they have charted the possible candidates and have an easier time getting their attention. Most of the time is spent on communicating with the candidates, and networking. The recruiter should be able to address candidates from third countries, Europe, as well as the Eastern bloc. Recruiting activities should be set up so that automated sourcing would target foreign countries, while targeted searching and networking are focussed on Estonia.

Sourcing is a modern recruiter’s second language – you simply must be fluent in it. So far, the IT sector has had the most experience with foreign recruitment and expats, but sourcing will most probably become a must in other fields in the next few years. In the context of a shrinking and aging workforce, and employees who tend to change jobs ever more often, specialists are soon to become highly sought-after.


Find out who you will be negotiating with

Everything above implies what is already clear: a good recruiter has excellent self-expression skills. Especially in writing, ideally in more than one language. In addition to skilled and straight-forward use of language, relaying the message is important as well. Who is the candidate, what are their life experiences and values? Which channels should be used to communicate with them and when? What speaks to them, where do they aspire to end up in terms of work?

At the right moment, the recruiter must put on their salesperson hat and make a great pitch to spark interest in the candidate and call them to action. After the first contact, attention should be paid to writing a great role description: where and with whom the candidate would be working, which products does the organisation offer, what are the organisation’s plans for the future, what would the candidate do on a daily basis. The description should be elaborate and paint the candidate a picture of their new workplace. The aim is to help the candidate gain an understanding of how working in this organisation would feel like.

However, it is not possible to paint this picture if the recruiter does not understand the required technical skills or speak the language of the specialist. They must keep up to date on the activities, developments and competences needed for work in the field. For example, a recruiter for the IT sector should know which language the developers use to program in a particular organisation, which solutions are used in the sector, or whether the offered product is unique on the market.


Being systematic is always in fashion

The network of a successful recruiter involves several thousand people. How to keep an eye on everyone, send them a pitch at the right moment, all while maintaining your sanity? A systematic and structured approach is the key: everything works in stages, according to a plan and in an orderly manner. The work of a recruiter is not done after the position has been filled. It continues while there are no open positions in the business – a good recruiter keeps their contacts up to date. The biggest mistake is to storm off onto the market to fill an open position reactively, or just to try your luck.

Recruiting tends to be a reactive activity for HR staff. If we need a person, we will look for one. Recruiting should never start with demand. A skilled recruiter thinks of and approaches tasks proactively and prepares a list of possible colleagues before a position opens.

The first thing to do is talent mapping: who are you looking for? How will you find them, via which channels? Which channels should be used to communicate with candidates? Which lessons did you learn from a previous similar recruiting task, what should you do differently this time? Take a look at the contacts in your database, as well as your network, and only then start looking for people from Estonia and abroad.

Each step should be preceded by a thorough analysis and the setting of metrics, as things that cannot be measured cannot be changed. Not everything needs to be measured, only the aspects important in the context of the recruitment process. Some metrics to consider are:

  • the rate of filling positions
  • the percentage of opened letters and responses
  • the sources where a candidate was found or channels through which they contacted you
  • the rate of job offers made to offers accepted
  • the number of work relations that ended during the probationary period, candidates unsuitable for work
  • the number of candidates that dropped out during the recruitment process
  • candidates’ experiences.

The following analysis provides an understanding of the sources or channels that are successful, the tactics and texts that bring in more responses. Thinking that a recruiter just talks and writes is incorrect. They must know their way around numbers to reflect on their actions, measure and analyse them. Don’t be afraid of metrics, talking about them only demonstrates your professional attitude.

Learning fast in a modern world

However, recruiters must not forget developing other general HR skills, which play a role in recruiting. The candidate evaluation and selection phase is extremely important, as both situations, not having enough candidates to pick from, and having to choose between too many, are troublesome. Preparing and conducting interviews in a way that saves time for the recruiter and the candidates is an art form in its own right. The personal brand and the organisation’s brand as an employer are important for standing out to the candidates, while onboarding processes are vital for keeping them.

This is the reason we have put together a training programme which takes the HR managers through the whole recruitment cycle, using their own organisation as an example. In four weeks, we provide the participants with key recruiting knowledge and tools so that the future searches for employees would be effective and pleasant for all parties.

The trainers represent two different worlds: both agency and in-house recruiters share their experiences. The training course is suitable for both starting and seasoned recruiters, as it helps create a system for recruiting activities, set metrics, test new online tools, and raise confidence.

View the timetable and contents of our training course here:


* In six years, we have completed the following courses: LinkedIn Recruiter Learning Path (USA), Social Talent (USA), Sourcecon (USA), Amazing Hiring (USA), OTUS (Russia), and Pritula (Ukraine).

Last updated at: 21.09.2021