As a recruiter, I’ve been hung up on and berated. One would think I was an annoying telemarketer trying to sell a non-stick tortilla shell maker. But because I’ve heard horror stories from candidates, I have come to understand peoples’ hesitation when it comes to working with recruiters. Some recruiters have published misleading job postings, submitted people for positions without telling them, pressured people to interview for positions they’re not interested in/qualified for, and manipulated candidates into accepting offers they wouldn’t normally take. I know there are more examples, but it’s easy to see where the aversion comes from. So how do you know if the recruiter or company you’ve come into contact with is worth your time? Here are key qualities to look for in a recruiter and recruiting company to make the best of your time and your experience, as not all are created equal:

Brains. A good recruiter will know their stuff – whether it’s your industry of interest, the client company he represents, or the positions being worked on – he will have done his research. If he doesn’t know the information off the top of his head, he will do research way before submitting your information. A friend of mine once called a recruiter about a job opportunity: the recruiter knew nothing about the position but submitted my friend for it anyway, leaving much of the position to be desired. My friend didn’t feel very confident about either the recruiter or the chances at getting an interview for the position – and rightly so.

Relationships. The agency should have good relationships with their client companies and the hiring managers at those companies. Ideally, they’ll know the manager who’s hiring for the position personally (although this is not always possible), and they’ve done site-visits to gain insight as to the company’s culture and environment. If – ok WHEN – you ask questions about the company, they should be able to provide insight above and beyond what you can discover for yourself by visiting the corporate website or researching on websites like
The recruiter should also build a relationship with you, the candidate. In order to make placements that gratify you and the client, a recruiter not only needs to know the company, he needs to know the candidate: not just your work history, what you want to do, and how much money you want to make; but what you prefer to do and prefer not to do; what you’re really looking for in a company and an opportunity; and what outlying factors play into your decision-making process. This allows the recruiter to make a solid match between the client and the candidate. In addition, the recruiter should try to meet you face-to-face in order to further evaluate your skill-set and how you present yourself in an interview. This way he can more effectively coach you through the interview process at specific companies.
Communication. The key to every good relationship is communication. A good recruiter will proactively maintain open lines of communication. He will have a reasonable response time if you ever call or e-mail; but will also reach out when modifying your resume and before submitting your resume anywhere, providing you with specific information about the position and the company to gauge your interest in the opportunity. He’ll also keep you updated on your status during the interview process – even if it’s just to call and let you know that he’s still waiting to hear back from someone.

Overall, working with any recruiter can aid your job search. But working with someone who knows their stuff, has a good relationship with both his clients and his candidates, and effectively communicates with everyone involved – throughout the process – can make for a smooth career transition. Better yet, working with good recruiters from a few different agencies can open up even more possibilities. Just ask your network for referrals and contact the person directly. Have an initial conversation based around your expectations, and see where it goes from there.


Author: Rachel Harris