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How to find a recruiter that's right for you

How to find a recruiter that's right for you

Artwork by: Daria Sukhanova

  •  The two main types of recruiters
  • So what’s the difference?
  • How do I reach a recruiter to find a job?
  • Finding a recruiter who fits your needs
  • How do I get recruiters to find me
  • Knowing if a recruiter is right for you
  • Knowing who is who
  • Getting to know your recruiter
  • It’s a two-way street
  • Key takeaways

Searching for a job can be tough, but you don't have to go it alone. Working with a recruiter could be helpful to find your next job, so we'll discuss the different kinds of recruiters and what they can do for you.

Recruiters can be great allies in your job hunt. After all, it’s their job to find you a job, right? The answer is — sort of.  There are a lot of moving parts in the hiring industry, and it can be intimidating if you don't know where to start. It's important to understand that not all recruiters are created equal. Each recruiter or recruitment firm has different skill sets, specialties, goals, and values.  

In this article, we’ll discuss the ins and outs of working with a recruiter so you can one that meets your needs, including:

  • Types of recruiters 

  • How to find a recruiter

  • Deciding whether a recruiter is right for you

 The two main types of recruiters

There are two primary types of recruiters: internal and external. An internal (or in-house recruiter), works for one specific company and only fills positions for them. An external, or "agency" recruiter is someone who works for a recruitment company. They may work on many accounts filling roles for several different companies at a time. Many recruitment agencies specialize in certain roles or industries, but they can also fill positions at all levels - from entry-level to C-suite executives

Within the realm of agency recruiters, there are also two sub-groups: 

  1. Retained agency recruiters. They have exclusive contracts with the company that hired them and tend to be quite selective when compiling a candidate shortlist

  2. Contingent agency recruiters. They are paid per position, so they don't get paid until a candidate accepts a position with a client company

Make sure you're aware of who the recruiter works for, so you can get a feel for how many jobs you'll be submitting for.

So what’s the difference?

In general, working with a retained recruiter means you’re likely to have more information about the role and help with preparation and interviews. But a contingent recruiter is more motivated to advocate for you personally and use their proactive sales skills for you — and to do it fast.

Agency recruiters will have a greater number and a wider variety of open listings, while an in-house recruiter will have a more intimate and detailed knowledge of the company and position requirements. In either case, it’s important to remember that the recruiter’s “client” is a company - not you, the candidate.

How do I reach a recruiter to find a job?

Don’t worry, recruiters aren’t like the elusive Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot; they definitely can be found if you know where to look. In fact, you have several options. If you want to target a specific company that has an internal recruiting team, then LinkedIn is your best bet. Go to the company’s LinkedIn profile, then hit the “people” tab and search for people with job titles like “Talent Acquisition” or simply “Recruiter.” Alternatively, there may be contact information for the recruitment team on the company website, usually under “Careers,” “About Us,” “Contact Us,” or “Meet the Team.”

Finding a recruiter who fits your needs

LinkedIn is still an option to find a recruiter, but a Google search of your location and phrases like "search firms," "recruiters," and "employment agencies" will give you quicker results. If you’re overwhelmed with listings, try adding your industry or career level as keywords to narrow down your search. There are also online directories like Online Recruiters Directory, and i-Recruit that let you search for agencies by location, specialty, and industry.

Expert Tip

Don't forget word of mouth. It's likely that someone you know got their job through a recruitment firm. Check-in with your colleagues, contacts, and friends about their experience with recruiters. The odds are good that one of them has a recommendation for you.

How do I get recruiters to find me

There are a few ways you can increase your visibility. Keeping an active and detailed LinkedIn profile that shows you as available for work is a good way to attract recruiters, as is having a current profile in resume databases like Monster and Indeed as well. If you stay visible, through writing, speaking, or simply commenting and sharing online, you will increase your chances of being engaged by a recruiter.

Knowing if a recruiter is right for you

Many inexperienced job seekers will make the mistake of submitting their resumes to every recruiter they can find. This actually hurts your chances because recruiters often have a shared client pool, which means that if a hiring company is using six recruitment firms and you've submitted to all of them, some hiring managers will skip you completely rather than deal with the conflict and decide which firm to pay. It's better to find one or two recruiters/agencies that specialize in the work you do and spend the time to build a relationship with them. That way they know what you're looking for and can find roles specific to you.

Knowing who is who

Let’s say a recruiter reaches out to you, unsolicited. How do you know if you’re dealing with a retained or contingent recruiter? Ask them questions like:

  • How did you gain access to this job listing?

  • Do you have any direct connections with the hiring manager?

  • Can I expect to be contacted by other recruiters for this same position?

  • How did you get my name? (Make sure they answer specifically here, not just “a colleague.”)

Getting to know your recruiter

Working with a recruiter might be about business, but it’s also a personal relationship. You’ll be working with someone who will know your job history, your education, your skills, and who you are as a person. That’s a big responsibility! Here are some other questions you can ask to help you determine whether it's a relationship worth pursuing:

  • How long have you been recruiting?

  • What industries/types of roles do you specialize in?

  • Can you name some clients that are looking for people with my experience and skill set?

  • How many people with my background have you placed in the last six months?

  • Can I ask some of your clients about their experiences?

It’s a two-way street

A good recruiter will also spend some time asking questions about your plans and goals, as well. Remember, you’re in the driver’s seat, and these people are auditioning to be your job search partner. The most important thing is to trust your instincts. If something about the way a recruiter handles themselves bothers you, or something about the offer makes you uncomfortable, it’s okay to walk away. Nothing says you have to work with a recruiter just because they call you.

  • Be clear about your career goals. A recruiter isn’t a mind reader.
  • Remain professional with the recruiter, even if you don’t get the job.
  • Share important details — be honest and upfront.
  • Be wishy-washy. Have a good idea of your goals before you work with a recruiter.
  • Stalk the recruiter. You don’t have to check in every day.
  • Back out after you’ve committed to a job.

Your relationship with your recruiter is an important tool in your job search, but it's just one of many tools you can use. It's not necessarily easier to get a job with a recruiter. There is a limit to how much they're interested in advocating for you, and a recruiter is only as good as the information they are given. You have to continue to do the work and keep applying, networking, and working with your career coach. Used correctly, recruiters can open up many new opportunities. But it's also important to know what you're getting into and make smart decisions about who you work with.

While you're looking for the right recruiter, check out our Job Search tool on Career.io!

Key takeaways

  1. Make sure you're aware of who the recruiter works for to get a feel for how many jobs may be available to you.

  2. If you want to reach out to a recruiter, you have to know where to look. Check out sites like LinkedIn or the company website for information on who's in charge of hiring.

  3. The best way to find a recruiter is by staying visible on professional networking sites.

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