How To Find the Right Recruiter for You (With Tips)

Updated April 20, 2023

Working with a recruiter is a common method for job candidates to connect with companies and find open positions. Although it's important to use a variety of techniques when searching for a job, using a recruiter's services can connect you with a large network of people who are hiring in your field. You may consider working with a recruiter when you're interested in a particular company, specializing in a niche or trying to expand the reach of your job applications.

In this article, we discuss how to find a recruiter that suits your needs and how to evaluate their ability to advance your career.

What is a recruiter?

A recruiter matches skilled candidates with open positions at a company. Recruiters may work independently, for a staffing agency or as part of a company's human resources department. Recruiters maintain a large database of qualified candidates that they can use to fill urgent job openings. They also communicate with potential employees on behalf of a company and provide key updates in the hiring process. Building relationships with both job candidates and employers is a key component of a recruiter's responsibilities, as it allows them to place as many quality candidates as possible.

Recruiters review resumes after candidates submit job applications to identify if the candidates are fit for a vacant role. The recruiter also understands the hiring manager's expectations and initiates the first contact with the candidate during a phone interview. They act as the liaison between the company and the candidate.

Read more: Learn About Being a Recruiter

How to find a recruiter

Recruiters often have a wide reach across job boards, social media and professional associations. Before connecting with a recruiter, you can first research what recruiters are actively looking for candidates and find their contact information. Use the following steps to find a recruiter that is most qualified to assist in your job search:

1. Browse job boards

Although hiring managers create many postings on job search sites, such as Indeed, companies may often assign this duty to recruiters. Pay attention to the name and titles of people who post listings for jobs in your industry. Recruiters may often identify themselves with the following similar job titles:

  • Staffing agent

  • Senior recruiter

  • Headhunter

  • Employment agent

  • Search professional

2. Connect with staffing agencies

During your job search, look for local staffing agencies that can connect you with one of their recruiters. Some agencies specialize in a particular area, while others serve a variety of clients. Be direct when discussing your job search with a staffing agency to ensure that they have recruiters that work in your field of interest. Explain your priorities, such as work location, culture and salary expectations. Staffing agencies usually use a database to monitor vacant and upcoming roles, so you can contact them often to learn if a new opportunity has arisen.

Related: How Do Staffing Agencies Work?

3. Use your network

Many of your friends and colleagues may have worked with recruiters and be willing to provide recommendations. Your network could introduce you to a recruiter directly, making your application more noticeable. Finding recruiters through your personal contacts is an excellent method to ensure that you find a recruiter in your field who can prioritize your job search.

If you're a college student or a recent college graduate, you can use the career services department at the university to connect with a recruiter. You can also attend career friends to meet recruiters and learn more about companies that may interest you.

Related: 7 Tips for Building a Strong Professional Network

4. Consult with industry groups

Recruiters often join associations and attend conferences related to their specialty. If you're searching for a job in a particular industry, pay attention to any staffing agencies that regularly attend events in your field. If you're a member of a professional organization, consider searching the membership directory for any recruiters.

Related: What is a Recruiting Firm? (Versus a Staffing Agency)

5. Reach out to top companies

If you're interested in working with a particular company, consider reaching out directly. You may be able to speak with a human resources representative and ask them to connect you with a recruiter.

If they outsource their talent acquisition to another company, ask for the name of the staffing agencies they use. Although this information may not be available, reaching out to top companies in your field can let them know of your interest and enter you in their database for possible candidates.

Related: How Recruiting Agencies Can Help Find You a Job in 3 Steps

6. Post your resume

Just as you may be searching for a recruiter on a job board, recruiters often use job sites to find talent. Create a professional resume and post it on your job board profile so that employers can easily find you. Ensure that regularly update your contact information and job history to show that you're available and interested in new positions.

Related: 10 Tips to Help You Network Like a Pro

How to choose a recruiter

During the job search, you may likely come into contact with a wide variety of recruiters. When selecting a recruiter, consider the attributes that are important to you and your particular job search. The right recruiter for you can ideally become a consistent resource for new opportunities in your career. Your recruiter can show an interest in your professional goals and those of the company they represent. These steps can help you vet potential recruiters before committing to a professional relationship:

1. Research the recruiter's network.

By using social media and job websites, you can often get a good idea of your potential recruiter's network. If you're working with a staffing agency, ask which companies they have as clients. A good recruiter may have a large network of human resources specialists that they regularly connect with about job openings.

2. Seek out testimonials.

Ask others in your industry about their experience with various recruiters. A recruiter with a long history of successful placements is more likely to be an asset to your job search than one who has moved around from agency to agency.

3. Consider their specialty.

Although some recruiters work in a variety of industries, you may want to choose a recruiter that specialized in your field. Recruiters can specialize in a particular industry or a particular level of skill, such as executive management. A recruiter within a specialty is more likely to be educated on the requirements of a job and the type of candidate who can excel in that position.

4. Narrow your options.

Though you may be tempted to work with several different recruiters or agencies, devoting your time to one committed recruiter is a more effective strategy. By building a strong bond with a recruiter, you can be confident in their commitment to finding you a great job.

Related: Recruiter Ghosting: Why It Happens and How To Handle It

What questions can you ask a recruiter?

After selecting a few recruiters that have the proper qualifications, you can ask questions to find out who can be the most helpful during your job search. Just as an employer interviews a candidate to assess how well they can do a job, you can interview your recruiter. By asking about their experience, you can also begin to build a working relationship. The following questions provide a basic guideline for screening potential recruiters:

  • How long have you been a recruiter in this specialty?

  • Do your clients have regular openings in my area of expertise?

  • Do you have any testimonials from people you have placed?

  • What type of positions have you placed for candidates with a similar background to mine?

Related: How To Become a Strategic Recruiter in 5 Steps (With Benefits)

Tips recruiters give candidates

A recruiter can provide you with specialized advice on how to get a job in your industry that suits your level of experience. Recruiters can help you increase your visibility to employers by utilizing their network and expertise. There are a few basic suggestions that recruiters give to clients regardless of the type of position they are seeking. These tips can help you move your job search forward when working with a recruiter:

  • Promote your professional experience online.

  • Proofread applications and emails.

  • Follow up with employers.

  • Practice being interviewed.

  • Attend industry events.

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