How to Evaluate and Select a Job Recruiter

Do you know what to ask when evaluating an IT job recruiter? Here are specific questions and considerations to help you select the right recruiter.

Ah, the job search – it can be exciting, stressful and agonizing all at the same time. In some cases, we find that some candidates are looking to move up to a higher level position but can’t necessarily get there in their current company whereas some are seeking a transition to a new career. And others are looking to move on from a role and/or organization that is not a great fit for them. Regardless of the impetus for your job search, one thing is clear: a job search is a “job” in and of itself!

As a top IT staffing firm, Eliassen Group recruiters often talk to candidates who initially go out on their own to seek a new position. This is a great first step in order to research and evaluate what’s out there in the market. Additionally, it’s a great opportunity to connect with former colleagues and managers, friends and others in your network to see if they are aware of jobs and companies where they may be able to assist you with introductions. These are all critical steps in the job search process.

But for many, having an advocate who understands what your current challenges are, what your goals are – both short- and long-term – as well as a firm grasp of what’s happening in the marketplace is the true key to success as it relates to your career path. That being said, should you just shoot a note or make a phone call to the first recruiting firm you come across? We strongly advise against this in favor of a much more targeted approach.

So where do you start when seeking out a job recruiter?

First and foremost, you should identify the type of role that you’re looking for, do some asking around, and locate a few firms that specialize in these specific skillsets. You should also make sure that these firms have a strong presence within the specific geography in which you’re located (or where you may be relocating to).

From there, it’s critical to do some research and speak with others who have recently conducted a job search. Of those who have worked with recruiting agencies, find out:

  • Which ones did they like working with? What were the successes?
  • Which firms did they dislike and why?

In this way, you are drawing from your referral network rather than applying blindly to a job that’s been posted.

But what if I’m interested in a specific job posted by a recruiter?

It’s a natural instinct, especially given today’s competitive job market, to want to jump on an existing position that has been posted but it’s important to take a pause and ask around about the recruiting firm. Find out if they have a solid recruiting team and a strong track record, if possible, before you jump in with both feet. Armed with recommendations from others, you can call and ask for a specific recruiter rather than firing your resume off blindly.

Also keep in mind that just because you see a position posted by one firm does not mean that there aren’t ten other agencies out there who also have the same position posted. Many client companies work with multiple agencies which means that you can afford to be a little more selective.

What kinds of questions should I ask a prospective recruiter to determine if he/she will add value to my career search?

Many job candidates forget something when they are seeking a recruiter to assist with their job search: it’s a two way street! Just as they are interviewing you and asking you questions about your qualifications, you should also be interviewing them to determine if he/she will truly be able to assist you in a way that adds value. Here are some critical questions to ask:

  • What has your relationship been like with this client?
  • Are you engaging directly with the hiring manager for this role?
  • Have you placed candidates with this client before?
  • Of the candidates placed, what has their experience been like?

Also remember that when considering opportunities with larger companies via recruiting agencies, there are often various tiers of recruiting vendors – if the firm is in the top tier, then the recruiter will be dealing directly with the client but some firms will subcontract out to other recruiting vendors. The more layers involved in the process, the harder it is to get your resume considered by the client.

What should I expect from a strong recruiting partner?

Great recruiters understand that their main job is to build relationships with job seekers rather than just driving more “transactions” in the form of “job starts.” In our world at Eliassen Group, we want to be your career advisor for the long haul, not just for the next job opportunity. In addition to sharing new career opportunities with you, we want to share information about market conditions, have honest conversations about salary and about the pros and cons of specific roles and clients. So when you’re having your initial conversations with various firms, find out if the recruiter has a long term approach that will suit your needs now and 10 years from now. Here are some additional questions to ask:

  • Assuming you place me successfully in this job, what will our ongoing relationships be like?
  • What kind of support do you offer?
  • What happens if my contract ends or this doesn’t work out? Who do I reach out to for redeployment?

Remember that communication is a two-way street.

Just as you expect your recruiter to be open and honest about his/her role and the positions you are exploring, remember that it’s very important that you are also candid about your skillset and job search activities. You should be honest with each other about where you are applying and where your information is being sent.

When seeking a new job, recruiters should understand that you may be working with multiple agencies. So be up front about it and you should expect your recruiters to be transparent, as well.

Do you have additional questions or are you interested in learning more about how Eliassen Group may be able to help you with your career search?

Contact us and ask us the questions mentioned above. We’d be happy to answer them!

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