Ready to switch jobs? A reputable recruiter can be a valuable ally in this process, discretely connecting you with hiring managers who are searching for your skills and experience. From interview prep to salary negotiations, your recruiter will work behind the scenes to position you for success. But with multiple recruiters contacting you, how can you decide which of these recruiters – if any – is the right partner for your job search?

Perhaps you’ve received calls from recruiters in the past promising huge opportunities at big companies, only to have these recruiters disappear as soon as you send your resume. Google “headhunters” and you’ll find plenty of professionals complaining about their experience– as well as professionals singing the praises of their executive recruiter.

How to Choose an Executive Recruiter

Just like when choosing a lawyer or an accountant, take time to do your due diligence before making a selection. Start by going to LinkedIn and reviewing the recruiter’s profile. What kind of tenure do they have in the recruiting industry? How long have they been with their current firm? Did they work in the same industry before transitioning to recruitment? A quick review of their LinkedIn profile will help you decide if it’s worth calling this recruiter back.

Before moving forward with a job search, I recommend interviewing the recruiter to confirm their experience and connections are the right fit for your needs. These are four questions to ask:

1. How long have you been recruiting?

Ask the recruiter to walk you through their experience. In general, length of time recruiting equates with greater placement success thanks to strong industry relationships. But don’t discount a newer recruiter. This recruiter may be part of a specialized team within their firm and can draw on the team’s connections to support your search.

2. Which companies do you work with?

Consider company size, location, and reputation. Are these top-tier firms or smaller regional businesses? For companies with multiple branch offices, ask if the recruiter only places at one location or has relationships across regions. Finally, be sure the recruiter truly understands the ins and outs of your industry. They should “speak the lingo,” be up to date on market trends and be able to offer you insights into the hiring process.

3. How many people with my background have you helped place in the last year?

Sure, a recruiter may have placed 50 professionals last year, but if these professionals have a completely different background from you, you can’t assume this placement success will translate to your candidacy. Additionally, be sure the recruiter is not only familiar with your professional history but also understands your career goals. For example, if you want to transition job functions within your industry, has the recruiter helped others make a similar change? It pays to be transparent: it’s better to be upfront with your recruiter about your priorities, such as job requirements, location preferences, and compensation expectations. Find out from day one if the recruiter can help.

4. How did you get my name? In some cases, the recruiter may have found you through LinkedIn, searching for someone with your specific skills and experience. In other cases, the recruiter may have received your name from someone on their team. The recruiter may have initially contacted one of your former colleagues who then recommended you for the open role. Don’t settle for a vague answer: the recruiter should be forthcoming about how they found you.

Successful recruiter partnerships are built on mutual trust and respect. If a recruiter is too pushy, think twice. Yes, a job opening may require a quick response, but if you’re not ready to act, the recruiter should be open to working with you on another opportunity at a future date. Likewise, the recruiter will expect you to be highly responsive once you’re under consideration for a specific role. Again, transparency from the beginning will ensure a smooth, productive process.

Now that the search has begun, learn more about what to expect during this process in my blog post, “Navigating a Job Change with a Recruiter.”

Authored by: Debra Johnson


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.