How to Select the Right Recruiter for Your Next Job Search

Recruiters bridge the gap between job seekers and employers to save time and effort for both parties. So, what type of recruiter is best for you? How do you find them? And, what details do you need to know about the recruiter to ensure a successful career search?

Building a relationship with an external recruiter is one of the wisest choices you can make when conducting a career search. This is because external recruiters often have contacts at many companies. Therefore, candidates benefit from multiple relationships simply by working with one well connected recruiter.

Based on how they are paid, most external recruiters will fall into one of the following categories:

  1. Contingent recruiters: These recruiters are only paid when a candidate they presented is hired. The recruiter earns a flat rate, or a percentage, based on the first-year salary of the candidate.
  2. Retained recruiters: The client company pays a retainer (i.e., a fixed upfront amount fee) to the recruiter to begin the search. An additional portion of the search fee is often paid midway through the search. And, the remainder is expected upon a successful hire.
  3. Staffing agencies: These recruiters often work with companies that hire employees on temporary terms. The hiring company pays the staffing agency to recruit employees, while the agency typically pays the candidate’s salary–including benefits–for the entire contract period.

Here are six tips to help you determine what type of recruiter might best serve your career search goals.

Tip # 1: Ask what types of positions they commonly fill

If you’re looking for a senior level role, it’s best to work with an external recruiting firm that specializes in that area. The same applies to all other job levels. Work with a recruiter who matches candidates to the level of seniority you seek.

Tip #2: Understand their level of familiarity

A good recruiter will take the time to fully understand your skill set. Further, they will be familiar with your soft skills and the roles you’re comfortable with. For example, are you detail oriented, innovative, creative, or something else? Determine the skills they seek for certain jobs and ask for help prioritizing the most important ones. Match them to your top skills. This will also make it easier for both parties to identify the best career opportunities for you.  

Tip #3: Opt for industry specific recruiters

Go beyond seniority and skill set. Partner with a recruiter who specializes in filling roles specific to your industry. For instance, if you’ve built your career in the supply chain industry, find a recruiter who focuses on placing top talent for the supply chain sector. Once again, it’s about leveraging a recruiter’s experience and relationships within a specific niche to find the best job fit possible. 

Tip #4: Consider the recruiters reputation

Remember how reviews and ratings tell you which products to choose and which ones to ignore? Reputation works the same way when selecting the right recruiter for you. Ask them for testimonials, clients they’ve successfully placed, and whether those employees remained in their position for at least two years. The duration of an employee’s tenure will help provide insight into the type of experience you’re likely to have with a recruiter.

Tip #5: Gauge how supportive they will be

Supportive recruiters are vested in your success. They provide guidance throughout the interview process to increase you’re chances of being placed as a candidate. They will share tips on what to include in your resume or cover letter, what interview questions to expect, and how to answer them. Also, considering they’ve likely evaluated dozens (if not hundreds) of applicants, they will also be aware of what to avoid along the way.

Tip #6: Find out how deep their network is

Recruiting is heavily dependent on referrals, and these referrals operate within a network. A well-connected recruiter will have a rich network that makes it easier to find job openings.

What is the best way to determine how well-connected your recruiter is? Ask! If you have a list of target companies, ask your recruiter if they have relationships with those specific companies. If they don’t, ask if they have connections at similar companies. Many recruiters, especially contingent firms, won’t disclose a list of clients. However, you can ask about the general types of companies they typically fill positions for. 

Remember, keep an ongoing dialogue with your recruiter even if they don’t have the exact role you’re looking for at the moment. Be clear about the types of companies you’re seeking employment at so they can proactively watch for career opportunities on your behalf. It is often this longterm approach that leads to finding your next dream job much faster than if you were conducting an independent search of your own.