How to Spot a Great Recruiter from a Mediocre One

A bad recruiter is easily spotted. They pressure you, are into the fast sale, promise you the world, and don’t have a track record to prove it. You can’t find anyone who has ever hired them and once you turn them down, they won’t go away.

A mediocre recruiter is a much more sinister sort because, on the surface, they seem a lot like a good recruiter. It’s not until you start asking the tough questions that you’re able to see this person is just not a good fit for you and your organization.

But what are those tough questions and how can you tell a great recruiter from one that’s only going to cause you delay?

4 Tips for Recognizing a Great Recruiter

In over eighteen years of recruiting, I’ve developed a pretty keen sense of what differentiates a good recruiter from a mediocre one. Here’s how you can too.

A mediocre recruiter:

Doesn’t know your industry. Industry experience is important for two reasons. The recruiter can hit the ground running and there’s no learning curve on what you need, and they already have relationships within the candidate pool. This is especially important if you work in a niche like tech transfer.

When you work in a specialized industry, you need someone who understands what you do and the intricacies involved. We made the decision years ago to only serve tech transfer and we’ve built amazing relationships in the field. Our clients know this and that’s why they hire us. If you are in a specialized market, make sure you work with someone who understands. After all, when you hire a specialized recruiter, you’re also getting the advantage of those relationships, which means quicker placement.

Is afraid to ask questions or push back. Clarification can shorten searches. If the recruiter doesn’t ask the right questions, they will go down the wrong path in recruiting. Knowing what someone needs, and clarifying when necessary, will ensure everyone is happy with the candidate slate.

Won’t have someone in mind. A great recruiter will hear what you’re looking for and, most likely, based on their relationships already have someone in mind. A mediocre recruiter will begin from scratch each and every time because they haven’t built up the relationships.

Won’t give you feedback. A recruiter is in the unique position to hear from the hiring manager and the candidate. An outstanding recruiter will share candidate feedback with you so you know where you stand and have all the information you need to make a good hiring decision. A mediocre recruiter fears sharing too much.

Have you ever been burned by a lackluster recruiter? Don’t make that mistake again. Look for the warning signs and have the hard conversations up front before you sign a recruiting agreement.

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