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How to Choose a Recruiter

My husband works in real estate. Much like the recruiting business, there are all sorts of real estate agents: Ambitious, hard-working professionals, as well as part-timers and hobbyists looking to make a couple bucks on the side. When you’re making a serious decision – a home purchase or career change – you want to be working with a professional.

Here are some of the hallmarks of recruiting professionals:

  • Specialize in your industry and have more than a superficial understanding of what you do and what skills are required for specific jobs. You can tell this by the questions they ask you – E.g. Do they probe your experience? Is the recruiter familiar with the tools and words that you use every day in your job? Can they hold up their side of the conversation? Do you feel secure they can accurately represent your skills to an employer?
  • Have a good reputation and are selective about who they work with. Recruiters make a name for themselves and gain traction with companies by representing excellent, qualified people. They are careful to protect this reputation by only working with top talent, and presenting people that strongly match job requirements and company culture. Watch out for recruiters who seem overly eager to send your resume without properly vetting you.
  • Have close relationship and good knowledge of the hiring company. How long have they been working with the company? Do they personally know the leadership team, hiring managers, client business, and company culture?
  • Are trustworthy and diplomatic. They are discrete and sensitive about confidentiality concerns. You can trust them with your salary history. You know they’ll figure out a way to quietly vet you without alerting anyone to your job hunt. They don’t gossip or speak poorly of others in the industry.
  • Have successfully placed people just like you – Your skill set, level, etc. Ask: What are some examples of recent placements? Do they have relationships with the decision-makers? Are you certain they can get your resume in front of the right people?
  • Listen to your priorities. Can they play back your top job criteria? Do they keep careful notes and ensure that jobs are well-aligned with your skills, interests and goals? They provide useful guidance about what’s realistic, but they don’t ignore or insist you change your stripes.

Next week: FAQs about working with a recruiter.

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