Does Your Recruiter Have the Skills to Get You the Right Job?

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A recruiter who uncovers the right opportunities can quickly become a job hunter’s best friend. But not all recruiters boast an insider’s knowledge of the tech industry, much less the deep technical understanding necessary to properly vet opportunities as they arise. In light of that, when you meet with a recruiter, it’s worth asking some questions that go beyond job requirements and salary. Here’s a few you might consider.

How long have you been a recruiter? Can you tell me a bit about your background?

As conversation-starters go, this one is perfect. “I think it’s important to understand the background of the recruiter who’s representing you,” Jim Glab, director of recruiting for Objective Paradigm in Chicago, said in an interview. That means knowing the recruiter as an individual, not just as the representative of a recruiting company. In that same vein, it’s also worth asking recruiters about the types of professionals they’ve recently placed in positions—is there a level of experience, job title, or company they typically represent? A good follow-up question is how many candidates they’ve actually placed in jobs over the past 12 months.

How long have you been working with the client company? What’s your relationship with them like?

Find out if the recruiter works directly with a company’s hiring manager, and if that relationship is exclusive. If the recruiter regularly represents the company, it’s more likely they can give you the insider’s scoop on the position (plus, any candidates presented to the company by that recruiter will likely be taken more seriously). If they’re not working with the hiring manager directly, the recruiter might be working through the HR department or, even worse, a vendor management system.

What do you know about the position and why do you think I would be a good fit for it?

The recruiter should know the specifics of the job. According to Jennifer Bensusen, senior recruitment partner and technology lead at Irvine, California-based Decision Toolbox, the recruiter should be able to tell you what the competition looks like, and how you stack up against them. It’s smart to assess whether or not the recruiter knows you and your capabilities, whether they’re paying attention to your needs, and whether they answer your questions.

What technologies will I be using on a daily basis? Can you offer a breakdown of what percentage of the day I’ll be working with each one?

“If you’re working in IT, you want to work with a recruiter who understands IT,” said Chris Brinkman, regional vice president for Robert Half Technology in Menlo Park, CA. The recruiter must be knowledgeable about the tech environment and the specifics of the tech job; he or she should be able to run through an average day for a DevOps engineer or systems architect, for example. “Ask yourself if this is someone who would best represent your interests,” Brinkman added.

How long have you been working on this position?

If a particular job’s been open for a long time, it might mean the recruiter isn’t doing their job in finding a candidate. It could also indicate that the recruiter doesn’t have a good grip on what the job requires, or their relationship with the company isn’t what it should be. Or another factor might be involved. “The recruiter may not be at fault at all, so look for a gap in pay or skills,” Brinkman said.

(For more questions to ask recruiters, take a look at our ’10 Questions to Ask a Recruiter Before You Sign On.’)

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2 Responses to “Does Your Recruiter Have the Skills to Get You the Right Job?”

  1. Recruiters - a necessary(?) evil

    Unfortunately, most recruiters are a required evil. I insist that recruiters use e-mails to provide a written detailed description of the position. Most want to do “touchy-feely” phone-calls. Why? So there is no history of what was stated / promised. It also lets them control you, forcing you to call them at their convenience or sit around and wait for them to call when they get around to it. They want you to jump through hoops so they know you will accept whatever crumbs they through your way. I’ve been amazed by the number of recruiters who are totally wrong about the position they describe. Many recruiters will call your number (even if not provided). It is amazing how many barely speak English. Oddly, these are often the same positions that are pushing for H1Bs to apply and/or use overseas outsourcing centers to steal American jobs. When you do finally get “submitted”, they disappear and will never provide feedback as to whether a position is interviewing, filled, canceled, etc. Then a week later, a different recruiter from the same firm will call you can have no idea that anyone else has spoken to you. Don’t they share notes? The IT world would be better off if there was a requirement that recruiters and the client’s HR was staffed with people who understand what they are talking about and are able to do so in English.