What is a growth mindset, and why do you need it in recruitment?

Last updated:
July 16, 2021
December 22, 2021
min read
Adrie Smith
Table of contents

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 tasks recruiters need to carry out within the hiring process.

Recruiters may find themselves playing the role of a marketer when trying to get improved visibility on their job advertisements.

Perhaps then adjusting to the role of a PR professional when hosting a company open day or attending a networking event.

Then, performing as a 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’, wearing many hats at once. The Mad Hatter would be proud!

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?

This post will explore why you need a growth mindset in recruitment to help support a broader 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 to enhance your growth mindset.

What is 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.

“Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset.”

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. Therefore, it can be tough (if not impossible) to switch from processing information one way one day to another the next.

Developing a growth mindset

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:

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 understand what drives success constantly.

In addition to your more traditional recruitment skills, three core growth skills should be added to your toolbelt:

  1. Experimentation
  2. Data
  3. Creativity.
core growth skills

Below 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 - How to develop a growth mindset

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 of experimentation in recruitment:

  • Observation: You observe that you are not getting as many candidate applications for specific vacancies.
  • Question: You ask yourself why you’re not getting more candidate applications for x vacancy.
  • Hypothesis: You’re getting fewer candidate applications for x vacancy because the job advertisement doesn’t have a salary range.
  • Test: You place a salary range on the job advertisement, measure within the same initial time frame, and gather how many applications come in.
  • A conclusion from results: You conclude 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 essential to see the value of continuous experimentation. For example, 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 essential 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 - How to develop a growth mindset

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, there are tons of hiring metrics you can be tracking with a great ATS behind you.

(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 - How to develop a growth mindset

Creativity can be a tricky 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 are fundamental elements of a growth mindset. It demonstrates an innate curiosity and a desire to learn more.

From a recruitment perspective, harnessing creativity can mean several 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.

Fixed mindset vs. growth mindset

Many people ask themselves, ‘what’s the difference between a fixed and growth mindset?’

It’s a concept that has sparked interest in many industries. Education, for instance, assess and uses the growth mindset approach to infuse it in their students.

So, let’s lay out the key differences between a fixed and growth mindset:

A fixed mindset:

  1. Can limit you.
  2. Avoids challenges for fear of making mistakes.
  3. Is pushed with a desire to appear intelligent.
  4. Avoids feedback - specifically criticism.
  5. Doesn’t want to expand on their skills.
  6. Makes you feel threatened by competitors or the success of others.

A growth mindset:

  1. Is liberating.
  2. Pushes you to persevere.
  3. Allows you to feel inspired by the success of others.
  4. Pushes you to embrace the challenge and learn from it.
  5. Helps you thrive from feedback - especially constructive criticism.
  6. Enhances a strong curiosity and desire to learn.

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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