We’re all searching for the perfect formula to recruit to the best of our abilities in the tight labor market of today. But there are some tried and true do’s and don’t’s to watch out for along the way.

The Ten Commandments for Recruiters

Some golden rules include establishing a structured interview process, improving the candidate experience, enhancing your communication strategies, and more, but here are my 10 rules for this week.

1. You shall have no other candidates before the one you are working with.

Plain and simple, you need to focus your conversation and your mind to the candidate you are emailing, speaking with etc. If they notice your attention is not on them, they may just lose interest altogether.

2. You shall make no idols out of one candidate.

There is no need to continue to worship the perfect, ideal candidate if they start to ghost or show they are no longer interested. Call it a loss and move on to sourcing the next qualified candidate.

3. You shall not take the name of the government customer in vain.

Even if you are frustrated that the government customer has rejected your potential candidates time and time again, if you are handling submittals, continue to be polite and try to serve them more candidates that fit their (maybe changing) requirements.

4. Keep the weekends holy.

Recruiters are no stranger to working over their paid time off, taking calls late at night, or scheduling interviews over the weekend if it fits the elusive secret squirrel’s schedule. But seriously, take the day (or weekend) off once in a while so you don’t get burnt out.

5. Honor your recruiting manager and your hiring manager / program manager.

Be obedient to these entities – but challenge when necessary. Honoring their requests and strategy is key to keeping a cohesive recruitment team and ensuring you meet your individual and team goals.

6. You shall not murder your chances of keeping a candidate on your pipeline list.

It’d be a crime to kill your chances of continuing a professional relationship with a candidate because you are salty they aren’t taking your offer. Even if they have pulled your chain a bit throughout the hiring process, be polite and leave the conversation on a good note so you can continue to reach out to them for years to come for openings.

7. You shall not commit adultery with another contractor on the same program.

If you’re thinking about hopping from your current company to the next, make sure you aren’t violating any conflicts of interest – if they work on a program you are working on, it’s best not to burn a bridge with your current employer. It’s also very awkward to leave your organization and have to liaise with your replacement if you’re recruiting for the same program.

8. You shall not steal or poach candidates from a teammate.

This is a simple rule. All recruiters are dying for candidates, but don’t stoop to the level of the bait and switch while a prime or sub teammate on a program will suffer from having to backfill.

9. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Be transparent about everything in the job description with candidates. Pay transparency is hip these days, so avoid lying about your rates, the details of the job, and say nothing but the truth.

10. You shall not covet.

“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey…” This goes for a lot in a recruiter’s life – don’t crave another field, don’t wildly desire for this position to be over with, and don’t be jealous that some companies have higher HR tech tools than you. You are an important part of the national security world, and whether this recruiting job you’re in is a stepping stone or long-term, make the best of what you got, but most of all, make a difference.


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Katie Keller is a marketing fanatic that enjoys anything digital, communications, promotions & events. She has 8+ years in the DoD supporting multiple contractors with recruitment strategy, staffing augmentation, marketing, & communications. Favorite type of beer: IPA. Fave hike: the Grouse Grind, Vancouver, BC. Fave social platform: ClearanceJobs! 🇺🇸