SmartRecruiters Blog
Ladders Bartender

Want to be a Better Recruiter? Take Some Cues from your Favorite Bartender.

This is a guest post from our Job Board Partner Ladders

You know that neighborhood bar you always go to? Ever think stop to think why it’s your favorite? I’m going to guess it has everything to do with the bartender. A great bartender sweats the details, actively listens, and makes lots of friends. Interestingly enough, the same could be said for a great recruiter!

Are you just taking orders and pouring drinks? Or are you really getting to know people?

Recruiters and bartenders work in the “people business.” Both have to deal with lots of different personalities every day. Patience and flexibility are key.

The ability to cultivate relationships is what will make or break you. A great bartender greets you with a smile, engages you in a bit of friendly conversation, and makes you feel like you’ve been friends for years. When it comes to building repeat business, a great bartender has it going on!

With people increasingly changing jobs, you should be focusing on the relationship with your candidate, not just the resume. Develop your relationships over the phone, and also on social media. Put yourself out there and let people see your human side.

You may also want to change up your networking strategy. If you go to two networking events each month, ditch one and use the two hours you’ve saved to keep up with existing contacts. With fewer connections, you have more bandwidth for keeping relationships real.

All relationships are based on quid pro quo: doing something for someone who, in turn, does something for you. Treat your candidates and contacts with respect and do nice things for them whenever you can. Pour them a shot now and then, on the house. You will be the first one they turn to when they are ready to change jobs or are searching for a candidate.

Are you so busy washing glasses and changing the keg that you forget to ask your customers what they want?

Recruiting can be a hectic business and multitasking is important, but not at the expense of having a thorough understanding of what your candidates and hiring managers need. Coming up with a match is your bread and butter, so it’s really important to take the time to get to know what everyone wants.

Asking good questions seems like common sense, but so many recruiters don’t do it. Sometimes the question is as simple as, how much money are you looking for? And sometimes it’s more complex, like, what workplace culture suits your approach best? Either way, being able to ask the right questions at the right time is the key to success, both behind the bar and at your desk.

Are you garnishing the drink and putting a napkin down, or just slapping it on the bar?

Great recruiters don’t just put a candidate in front of a hiring manager and hope for the best. They take the time to ensure each candidate they send out is as appealing to the hiring manager as possible. They provide candidates with an interview itinerary that includes names, job titles and backgrounds of the decision makers they’ll be meeting with, along with a copy of the actual job description so they can easily reference it. Some recruiters even go so far as accompanying their candidates to the interview and making the introduction in person.

When you put in the extra effort to prep your candidates, they come across as more confident and capable, your clients are happier with the people you send, you close more deals and get more repeat business. You’re everyone’s favorite bartender, er, recruiter!

Pamela Lewis

Pamela Lewis is a digital writer at, a free platform on which recruiters can search for candidates and post jobs. With more than 8 million career-minded professional members relying on Ladders to improve their careers, recruiters have access to more extensive candidate data, resulting in better quality connections.