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The Attributes of a Good Recruiter

The profession of third party or “agency recruiting” is quite often viewed as a useless or self-serving industry.  They find recruiters to be greedy, selfish and care more about getting ANY candidate placed rather than making sure they are putting individuals in the best possible position to have successful careers.  Even used car salesman are starting to get better reputations and unfortunately there are many recruiters out there that are worthy of the bad recruiter title.

As a seasoned recruitment professional I tend to take offense when I hear people talk so poorly about a profession that I have worked so hard at and take very seriously.  I wanted to share my thoughts on what I feel are some key attributes of a good recruiter.

1. Does your recruiter truly understand your background and what is important to you?

The Bad Recruiter only has one task in mind and this task is to get you on the phone to determine if you are a “fit” or not. If you are a fit “in their mind” great they start to see the possibility of a higher commission check, if not they quickly dismiss the call and move on to the next dial.  They tend to view the recruitment process as more of a numbers game where they are bound to stumble upon the right individual with a higher number of dials per day.

The Good Recruiter tends to see the bigger picture in relationship building.  They will make sure that they are gathering the information that is important to your career and if it matches the open job, then great we are one step closer to building a relationship and hopefully helping you land a great job.  If not, that is okay too.  The goal is to establish a network of top candidates that are not necessarily looking to leave their current employer but would be open to hearing about great career opportunities with great cultured or reputable organizations.

2. How much do they know about the job they are recruiting for?

The Bad Recruiter only has one task in mind and this is to get a copy of the job description along with a client agreement to work on a specific open requirement.  To a bad recruiter, just getting this description or the “green light” from their client to engage on a particular position is considered “winning”.  This basic job description is what they will focus their screening process from because of this lack of information will pass over very well qualified candidates.

But a Good Recruiter will possess a strong business acumen that will give them a curiosity and the courage to dive deeper.  They will seek to understand things like, what are the attractive qualities of the company, why the position is open, team dynamics, reporting structure, scope of responsibility, personality traits of successful candidates, overall compensation package etc.  If a recruiter is just reading bullet points from a job description, you are at a significant disadvantage of fitting the “wish list” qualifications that companies tend to look for.

3. How are their follow up skills?

The Bad Recruiter will submit your CV and move on to filling their pipeline with other candidates who seem to be a close fit to what the job description is asking for.  They will only return calls or keep you abreast of your candidacy if or when their client shows interest in you and your talents.

The Good Recruiter sees themselves as the middleman in the process and should be keeping you up to date as to what is going on.  If they have not heard back from their client in 3 days, you should know that.  Although more times than not a client will go silent on recruiters and there is nothing they can do about it, however that should not mean the recruiter should go silent on you as well.

4. Are they serving your career interest and acting as your career coach?

The Bad Recruiter will blast through a 5-minute call and the next thing you know you are interviewing with a client with zero to minimal preparation or understanding of the role that you are interviewing for.

The Good Recruiter will take the time to understand your background in conjunction with their client’s job qualification requests.  Your conversation should be pretty through regarding your career competencies and you should have a strong understanding of the position in which you are being invited to interview for.  A good recruiter will also prepare you for interview questions and take the time to walk you through what to expect.


I have spent 18 years of my professional career trying to understand and perfect the third party recruitment life-cycle both from a client and a candidate’s perspective.  As with any profession there are good and bad representations of a particular career field.  I have found that a strong business acumen, having empathy for your candidate partners, being honest and proactive, responsive and last but not least taking a keen interest I helping others reach their career goals

is what every recruiter should strive for.  This is what separates the good recruiters from the self-serving ones labeled as bad recruiters in our profession.