Tips for Finding a Trustworthy Recruiter


Although most recruiters try to balance the needs of job hunters and hiring managers, surveys show that tech pros don’t always feel that third-party recruiters have their best interests at heart.

Unfortunately, some recruiters betray the trust of candidates by prioritizing the needs of employers, submitting résumés without permission, and advocating salary concessions just to line their own pockets.

So how can you tell if a tech recruiter is worthy of your trust?

“Trust is confidence born of three dimensions: Character, communication and competence,” explained Dennis Reina, co-founder of Reina, a trust building consultancy, and co-author of Trust and Betrayal in the Workplace, 3rd edition. “Trust is always present. So you may not realize that trust isn’t there until something is missing.”

You can’t be wary of your recruiter and still expect to develop a productive partnership. Here’s how to use the three dimensions of trust to identify an honorable recruiter.

Character and Integrity

An honest person keeps agreements and exhibits character traits such as loyalty and consistent behavior. In light of that, if a recruiter shows up on time for your initial interview and returns your calls promptly, those are early positive signs.

From the outset, an honest recruiter will also be clear and explicit about what they will or won’t do. Since body language speaks volumes about our true intentions, your initial meeting should be in-person or via a video conference; observe how the recruiter responds to direct questions about client relationships, references, or placement rates. A lack of eye contact or reluctance to answer specific questions may indicate a hidden agenda.

“Does the recruiter seem genuinely interested in helping you, or is it all about them?” asked Richard Palin, senior technical recruiter for AVID Technical Resources. “If somehow the conversation always turns to them and their needs, that recruiter may have selfish motives.”


If a recruiter appears to hoard or withhold pertinent information, or tries to placate you by telling you what you want to hear, those are major red flags.

After all, every job has its pros and cons. A recruiter should provide insights about a company’s culture, promotional practices, politics, and technical stack that are not readily available via a typical Web search. And he or she should involve you in decisions and ask for your input, not brush your concerns aside.

“You should be concerned if a recruiter won’t disclose key details like the name of the client, the size of the team or the need to wear multiple hats,” Palin said. “They should be eager to give you all the information you need to decide if an opportunity looks promising.”

A lack of transparency about compensation may pave the way for a bait-and-switch job offer down the road. And a recruiting professional who’s uncomfortable discussing money or sharing positive and negative feedback may “go silent” after an interview and leave you hanging.

Badmouthing others is also a troublesome sign. “You should be concerned if a recruiter speaks negatively about another recruiting firm or doesn’t take responsibility for their mistakes,” Reina said. “Responsibility is an essential element of integrity and a requirement for maintaining trusting relationships.”


Can a recruiter be trusted to negotiate a salary package? Let’s face it: anyone would need a certain amount of technical acumen and market awareness to effectively represent your skills and track record. Without that capability, they may cave in to a hiring manager’s demands or pressure you into accepting lower compensation just to close a deal.

“First impressions matter,” Palin noted. A competent, well-trained recruiter asks questions that are relevant to your role, experience level, and specialty during your very first meeting.

“Recruiters who are truly interested in creating a win-win-win do their homework and present jobs that are relevant to your skills, abilities, location and career goals,” he added. “And they won’t pressure you to accept a bad deal, because they take a long-term view.”

In other words, if they exhibit the right expertise and attitude from the outset, you can probably trust a recruiter to land you a job you desire.

10 Responses to “Tips for Finding a Trustworthy Recruiter”

  1. Agree with Kurt above….beware of Indian recruiters. They have lied to me about having an interview and said other falsehoods just to string me along. I never speak with Indian recruiters nowadays except to say, “thanks and goodbye”.

    U.S. recruiters are usually professional and interested in longer term relationships with job seekers. They will never ask right off about rate. U.S. recruiters care about one’s career path, benefits, the job FIT.

    I’ve been continuously employed in IT as a contractor & FT employee for about 2 decades and haven’t once landed a contract or job with an Indian recruiter.

    This is not to say there aren’t brilliant and talented Indian IT engineers; this post criticizes the Indian recruiting INDUSTRY, not the people nor the race, nor the country.

  2. What about outsourced recruiters? I get calls from people with fuzzy phone connections and thick accents who say they have jobs, but don’t seem to know my industry. They also ask for my social security number (or a part of it) that makes me wonder if I’m getting scammed.

  3. I agree with Steve; it is not racial or cultural. The off-shore recruiters are not playing by the rules of our business environment. US technical professionals are at a disadvantage and constantly blind-sided at multiple points within the recruitment phase for IT positions.

    A great number of my contacts with off-shore recruiters over the years have evaporated–number not valid, unrecognized email address, etc. In each case the “recruiter” collected identity information, references, copies of college degrees and work samples as if they were doing a placement. In addition, the use of references for aggressive “farming” has resulted in the refusal of managers to provide work references.

  4. A while back I had recruiters trying to get me into ATT Global Services. They would ask many questions and then ask for my SSN! They claimed they ran special ATT software to submit the application. I offered to come down to see it and then I would enter my SSN myself. They avoided the offer. It was a scam. You’re right Stacey, it’s a scam.

  5. Let’s face it, recruiters are paid by the clients, not us. I have never had any interviews when dealing with Indian recruiters, just hang up and delete their emails. Listen to how your recruiter speaks, do they sound like business professionals or do they sound like High School kids? If they are irritating to talk to, do you want them representing you to the client? There’s already too many recruiters out there. Be selective and don’t waste your time on amateurs.

  6. I agree with all of this especially your interaction with the recruiter. Being selective is very important. Many domestic recruiters are very young and lack mature communication skills. Some will attempt to connect with me on LinkedIn and when I look at their profile, they’ve been recruiting for less than a year. These are the ones I tend to avoid.

  7. Everyone needs to start somewhere. At one point we all had 0 years of experience, but doesn’t we couldn’t do the job. I judge individual recruiter on his/her professionalism, which is more of an attitude than experience. If the individual recruiter is willing to spend the time to do their homework and study their industry, make proper connections, and treat both client and job hunter with professional respect, I don’t see the reason why not giving them a chance.

    However, in my experiences, the Indian recruiters are very pushy and the companies they recruit for tend to have poor reputations. They don’t understand the industry and they can never tell you details about the job. Even if you ask what the company does and what is the project they need help with. They just rattle off key words with no clue on what those mean. Extremely frustrating getting 10 calls a day and about 10 – 20 emails a day from them, even though I am not actively looking for employment.

  8. Kevin Redcrow

    I have decided not to accept an assignment or project if the recruiter’s company has no office in my area. The onboarding process is nightmarish enough.

    Trying to understand a thick accent while it’s being transmitted through VOIP and then wireless media is difficult.

    A friend of mine was recruited for a job by a recruiter calling from 3,000 miles away. There was no local presence of that company. By the start day of the job, he had not been told where and whom to report to. It was not for a lack of trying on his part to get this information.

    The mistake I have made with recruiters is not getting the solid details about an assignment before accepting a project. I have let myself get roped into projects where I might get 20 hours of work for a week or two, and then nothing for 2 or 3 more weeks, and with no definite end in sight for the project.

    I could have ended the contract at any time, but I was new to IT and wanted to build up my experience and establish a good reputation.

  9. Brookwoods

    This is a very informative article. I think the first interview really matters a lot and one should be able to tell from that conversation whether the recruiter is trustworthy or not. Thanks for sharing these tips.