Recruiters have – in general – a pretty bad rap.  I know this because, well, I’m one of them and I hear it on a pretty regular basis.  It’s comparable to how people feel about, say, lawyers and politicians.  We’re often seen as too slick, arrogant, and money motivated.  We’re also tagged as selfish.  I’d like to say that these are complete misconceptions, but I can’t.  There are some bad apples in the profession, and since our work involves us talking to people one-on-one on a constant basis, it’s pretty easy for the bad players to generate a lot of ill will towards those of us who view this as a craft & a means to have a positive impact on the lives of the people we are working with.

That said, you can find a good recruiter.  You can find a lot of them on ZoomInfo, as well as on the Electronic Recruiting Exchange site.

 Here are a few of my thoughts on what to look for (as well as some of the red flags):


  • Knows how to listen – demonstrates this by asking good questions based on what you’ve told them (and by listening a lot more than they talk).
  • Wants a long-term relationship with you (they want to put you in touch with a company that matches your goals, and where you’ll stick & succeed – they’re interested in your career).
  • Has deep connections in the industry you work in, or works with someone at their agency who does.
  • Doesn’t fake it when they don’t have an answer – if they don’t they let you know that, but then try and get the answer for you, or point you towards resources that can help you.
  • When you do poorly on an interview, their client respects them enough to tell them why, and they in turn use this to prep you for your next interview.
  • Won’t try and jam you into a company/ role that’s clearly a mismatch.  That said, if you have some misconceptions about an opportunity, or about to make a bad decision (like, say taking a counter-offer), they have the ability to help you avoid making a mistake.
  • Preps you for your interviews, and gets your feedback on each one -if they’re good, they’re going to want details as well as your cooperation/ respect.
  • Isn’t a stalker.
  • Isn’t constantly in “sell” mode (if they’re that way with you, imagine what they’re like with their clients…).
  • Is proud of their profession, and views it as their career.  You always want to work with a craft-person.
  • Someone you’d be happy to recommend to your peers (if you wouldn’t, then why are you bothering with them).
  • Has the respect of their clients.
  • Wants you to give them a few references up front – they’re only willing to work with the best, which means that their clients are likely to be in the same bucket.
  • Gives you realistic feedback on your salary requirements, and is willing to remind you that a job change is rarely about the money.
  • Is willing to let you check some references on them, or has some written ones they can provide right away – this can be tricky, and I imagine some of my brethren are going to bark at me over this, as a lot of what we do is confidential.  All that said, they must have a few candidates they’ve already placed who are happy in their jobs but still think highly of them.  If not, well…


  • Only occasionally returns calls.
  • Thinks he/ she knows what’s best for you at all times (shows no respect).
  • Talks 80% of the time, and when they’re not, you can tell they’re not actively listening to you.
  • Sells 24/ 7.
  • Never seems to get feedback from any of the interviews they get you on.
  • Works with mainly second & third tier companies.
  • Gets evasive whenever you ask them a semi-pointed question.
  • Always offers the world/ over-promises – if they’re good, they’re going to undersell if anything.

So, just my thoughts – there’s more, but these are fairly fundamental.  And, now I imagine my peers are going to rip into me over some point or another…