How to spot the best recruiters for your business

Posted by Guest Contributor

April 24, 2014

Having a great recruitment professional on your side can help to shape your company. Here’s how to spot the best ones. 

By Janine Davis


Having a great recruiter in your corner can make hiring simple. Everyone should have at least one go-to recruiter that becomes their career partner in crime. Someone who has known you for years, tracks your career and business, provides advice just to be a nice person, and knows your personality and quirks when it’s your turn to hire. I’m not talking about the used car salesman type that only remembers you when they need you. I’m talking about a professional that is your sounding board, keeps you in mind and calls you when something of interest comes in, and knows your career motivations and passions. 

Fetch came up with this “List of Qualities that make Successful Recruiters” as part of our internal hiring process. Here I’m sharing a slightly modified version of it, since I’m often asked how someone can assess a good recruiter (whether you are a client or a candidate). There are nuances depending on which side of the hiring equation you are on, but the basics apply regardless. Be on the lookout for these qualities. The ones that are soft in nature are obviously harder to gauge (The Soft Stuff), but there are also three solid tangible barometers (The Hard Stuff) you can use.

The Hard Stuff:

  1. Most good recruiters have at least a few decent recommendations on LinkedIn. They speak volumes. A lack of recommendations speaks volumes, too.
  2. Given market conditions (huge demand/tiny supply), if a recruiter is cold calling you to get business, run for the hills. Granted, there are exceptions – there may be a gem that is just working at a Dialing-For-Dollars agency where they are obligated to make cold calls, or it may just be someone junior that has yet to build up a network and reputation that will yield referrals. But most good agencies are driven 100% by referrals.
  3. Ask your network for recommendations. Both candidates and clients should have 2-3 solid recruiters on tap. If any of them try to tell you that they need your exclusivity (unless it’s for a retained search), kindly decline. No single agency can cover every bit of the map, and if they say they can, they are clearly not putting your best interests at heart. 

The Soft Stuff:

  1. Does the recruiter have what I like to call “good manners”?  It’s not just professionalism I’m talking about here. I mean good, old fashioned manners. Do they return your calls and emails in a timely manner?  Do they say “thank you” when a thank you is due?
  2. Integrity may be the toughest quality to judge (especially if it’s someone you just met), but integrity should course through the blood of the person you pick as your recruiting partner.  Does the person do what they say they are going to do? Do they offer to introduce you to those in their network even if they are not going to make a buck on you? Do they try to find out what makes you tick – what motivates you, or are they just focused on checking off a bunch of boxes? 
  3. A great recruiter couples a strong backbone with a healthy dose of compassion and understanding.  Ultimately, career choices – whether you have a job offer in hand as a candidate or about to offer someone a job at your company – are very personal decisions. A great recruiter knows that, and never deludes themselves into thinking it’s about them. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have and can’t voice an opinion. In fact, they should. It’s their job. If you originally came to them saying your primary motivation was to be closer to home, and you’re about to take a job at a company requiring a 3 hour commute, they should be the little voice in your head saying “Hello, what are you doing?” Balancing being persuasive without being pushy is a fine art perfected by a great recruiter. 

Happy Hunting!

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Janine Davis is one of the Founding Principals at Fetch Recruiting, a So Cal focused boutique technical recruiting firm with a mission to maximize the hit ratio, and minimize the sleaze. Follow Janine and Fetch Recruiting on Twitter at @janineenerd and @FetchLA.



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Topics: Recruiting & Sourcing