It’s always important to build strong relationships with Recruiters (Executive Search firms).
They are your partners to get jobs that may not get advertised in job platforms. These can be mid-senior positions to c-suite.
However, not all Recruiters work the same, not all are classified in similar qualities. Perhaps, there are some who are getting themselves up to speed (some examples of negative ones here). Therefore, it’s helpful to pin down a set of screening criteria to assess the best fit between them and you.
Likewise, they will be shortlisting the right incumbent for their client.
So, the end goal is to make sure the Recruiter represents you well, to sell you as a unique candidate to the Hiring Manager and to manage expectation such as remuneration and career progression.
For me, I use any of these 5 questions in my conversation with the Recruiter:
Can you tell me more about your profile?
Same as your own profile – now it’s the Recruiter’s background. Get a good sense of whom they are and their corporate experiences. Move on to their company’s history, offices, industry focus and credentials. If they sound dodgy to you – my advice is to seek another Recruiter.
What type of relationship do you have with your pool of clients?
It’s crucial to understand how deep the ties are and whether the Recruiter has placed candidates in the company previously. If the client trusts them, it’s easier for the Recruiter to put forth your profile. And you get the better advantage against external competition.
Supposedly, the Recruiter highlights that they have great relationship – follow up in the next question “how many people have you successfully placed in their organization?”
There is no magical number but I will think 3 and above is fantastic. Should there be none and yet they say fantastic relationship, that’s also fine – seek to inquire the reasons.
But how will one be able to validate their client-based relationship?
Unfortunately, I can’t think of any but one way is to judge the Recruiter’s style. For example – lives up to their promise, proactive follow ups, take you from end-to-end process.
Check out their LinkedIn page for any activities.
A good Recruiter knows how to develop their client relations in a company - ideally, the person who has excellent connections, including access to the senior management.
Can you give examples of some of the clients that have worked with you?
Get the names of several firms. Better still, the business unit of a specific company. Typically, one will not release the “name of the person who will hire you”.
If the Recruiter says Company A repeatedly and this same firm in LinkedIn states that they don’t accept resume from Recruiters - well, that tells you about this person's integrity.
A big red flag!
How do you manage to find me?
Seems a simple, innocent question?
Fundamentally, you can assess whether they take the effort to professionally shortlist the right candidate. Let’s say they manage to locate you via LinkedIn, they will have an idea about your expertise. It does sound silly if they don’t.
Seriously, there are folks out there who just do their prospecting very quickly without having a clue. Let’s say they get your contacts because you did several posts in LinkedIn with a specific theme – wow! That’s original. This Recruiter can be resourceful in selling you differently.
How are you different from the other Recruiters?
I have been hearing answers like personalized services though I am not clear how these can be measurable since it’s the first time interacting with a new Recruiter.
For me, I will think there needs to be a stronger differentiation. It can be a specialisation across a couple of industries, and if required dive into sub-sectors (e.g. aviation > technical specialist). Another way is to check their office presence. Some may be reputable in Australia only. So, if you will like to work in the land of kangaroos, you know who to look for.
Typically, Recruiters do have a reputation to build up. It’s a people-oriented business. Hence, getting to a pool of qualified Recruiters who understand you, able to identify your transferable soft skills, who are knowledgeable and put your interests first.