Choosing the Right Recruiter


Contingency recruiters can be a great source of new career opportunities even when you are seemingly quite happy and not actively looking. Whether you choose to work with that recruiter for the specific role he/she has approached you for or elect to keep in touch with that recruiter for future opportunities, here are some specific suggestions as to how to judge and work with a Contingency Recruiter (CR):

1. Listen very carefully to the way a recruiter conducts himself or herself.
How professionally does the CR present the job? How informed of certain details is the recruiter? Is the recruiter pleasant and easy to talk with? How well does the CR know his or her field? Does that recruiter seem experienced or inexperienced ? Ask yourself: “If I’m a hiring authority would I want this CR representing me to find people? If the answer is “no”, then chances are that such a recruiter may be more hindrance than help.

2. Observe the process a recruiter uses to screen you.
Again ask yourself: if I were a hirer, would this be the process I’d want my recruiter to use? Does he or she look or sound professional ? If it is difficult for you and the recruiter to meet in person, then evaluate the process the recruiter uses. What sort of questions does he or she ask? How thoroughly do they probe your background and interests ? How far do they go to assure you would be a good fit for the job? If all the recruiter wants to do is get your resume without a true understanding of your capabilities and career goals then this could mean the recruiter won’t represent you or your interests (or confidentiality) the way you’d like.

3. Explain your goals and interests to the CR even if you’re not interested in the job he/she presents
If you outline your goals and interests, this gives the CR a much better idea of what might be appropriate to present to you in the future. Just saying “not interested” or “I’m happy right now” with no further explanation has several disadvantages. It might discourage future calls from that recruiting firm or on the flip side could mean more inappropriate calls from that CR or his/her colleagues in the future because the firm has no guidance as to what you would truly be interested in.

4. Don’t be afraid to further explore a new opportunity if it appears to be interesting
Being happy or satisfied with one’s current job shouldn’t be an absolute barrier to exploring something new. Often the best opportunities come to those who are quite happy right now, and your “bargaining position” is generally stronger when you don’t have to make a move. Sending your resume to a CR, provided that you feel he/she will handle matters properly, can be the first step to a valuable new career path. As is going on a first interview to see whether there might be a mutual interest. Employers are well aware of your need for confidentiality as well as the fact that first interviews do not commit either party to anything other than some time out of the day to meet and see if it is worth pursuing matters further. If you are currently employed, it is quite reasonable to ask for the first interview with a hiring authority and not Human Resources.

5. Get an understanding of how the recruiter intends to handle your candidacy.
If you are uncomfortable with the CR’s approach, politely but firmly voice your concern. “Before I send you my resume, I would like to know exactly what the process is from here.” Make sure you are comfortable with how you will a) be presented to the company: b) have the interview process handled and c) the kind of dialogue and follow-up you can expect from the recruiter.

6. Communicate with the recruiter about the interview and hiring process.
Try to get back promptly with your recruiter about the results of your interview. This allows you to be candid about your feedback and to air out issues that may have arisen on the interview. Oftentimes issues and questions can best be addressed by the recruiter (such as compensation or timing ) that may not have been discussed on the initial interview. Providing your recruiter with your insights and feelings helps move the process more efficiently.

Discussing your expectations about compensation and job responsibility/authority with the recruiter can be helpful in gauging how closely they match what the recruiter knows to be the employer’s expectations and limitations. A good recruiter also knows not only what a particular employer’s expectations might be, but has a handle on what the market in general bears and can communicate that with both you and the employer.

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