First of all, remember: the best time to establish a relationship with a recruiter is not when you are in need of a job – the pressure can make you more likely to work with a bad recruiter out of desperation and lead you to accept a position that really isn’t a good fit for you. Instead, try to establish a relationship with recruiter as a passive candidate. That way you can focus on finding one who really works well in your area of expertise and it will allow you to make career decisions with a clear head. With that in mind, the real question becomes: How do you avoid the bad recruiters and work with the good ones?
Here are some questions you can ask when engaging with a recruiter to decide if he or she is the right fit for you:
Are other people you know connected with the recruiter? Look at his or her LinkedIn profile. Are the two of you connected to a lot of the same people, or is the recruiter connected to other people in your field? Do you belong to any common groups? Does the recruiter appear to be connected with employers you are interested in working for? Does the recruiter have a lot of good recommendations? These are all things that can give you an idea of whether or not this recruiter is the right one for you. How well does the recruiter communicate with you? Pay attention to your first few conversations. Does he or she seem interested in you as a person and appear to understand your career goals? How are you treated as the process moves forward? Do you feel that you are being provided with enough information? One common example I like to point out is at what stage in the process does the recruiter entrust you with the name of the client they are working for? This should be within the first or second conversation – If you are going to entrust your career to another person, the recruiter should trust you enough to provide you with the name of the employer they are working with. To build that bond of trust, it is very important that there be full disclosure. Does the recruiter understand what motivates you to make a decision? Your recruiter should take an interest in what is important for you when it comes to making a decision. A good recruiter will come to understand your thought process and what your priorities are (family, location, compensation etc…) and take those into consideration when presenting jobs to you. Does the recruiter seem honest? Never work with a recruiter who asks you to lie about your experience or on your resume. This is a red flag that the recruiter does not have your best interest at heart but is trying to “fit” you into a position. The recruiter should show genuine concern about why you are a good match for a position, based on your goals. If the recruiter does not pay attention to your wants and needs and is only in it for their personal benefit, this is not a relationship you want to pursue. What type of process does the recruiter use? Pay attention to the different methods your recruiter uses. Does he or she have the right technology to ensure a smooth hiring process? For example, notice how user-friendly the recruiter’s website is. Do you have to apply multiply times for different positions? Ideally, you should be able to apply once and be notified in the future for roles that interest you. Does the recruiter provide you with information and career advice? These are all signs that the recruiter understands what it takes to advance your career.
The next time you are approached by a recruiter, instead of ignoring the outreach, consider connecting with him or her and ask some of these questions. Not only will it help you weed out the recruiters you don’t want to work with, you may also be pleasantly surprised to find that you have connected with someone who can actually assist you in your career. The reward for both of you will be a valued relationship that continues to return for years to come.