How to Spot Good (and Bad) Recruiters in an Age of Remote Work

When you’re searching for a new job, you want to work with highly effective, knowledgeable and personable recruiters. How can you find a recruiter who has adapted and remained relevant with all the recent changes to the hiring process?

Here are some ways to distinguish between good (and bad) recruiters right off the bat in the age of fully remote recruiting.

They Give, Not Just Take

The best recruiters know what’s happening in the marketplace and willingly share knowledge and advice with the members of their network and the greater tech community; the takers only post jobs.

You should be able to reach out publicly or privately and have a genuine conversation with a recruiter about market conditions. They should tell you what to expect in terms of the hiring process and timeline without you having to submit a résumé or application, noted Bill Boorman, a talent acquisition advisor and consultant to tech companies and startups.

For instance, fully remote hiring processes often have fewer steps, but getting an offer can take longer because managers have a hard time trusting someone they haven’t met in person, Boorman added. A good recruiter can help you establish trust and land an offer since you’ll know what to expect.

Your first step in finding a competent recruiter is to look for someone who contributes to the community and who responds quickly to inquiries without asking for anything in return.

They Respect Your Time

No one has the time to read every unsolicited job description they receive from recruiters. That’s why good recruiters provide all the key information up-front (including the job title, name of the company and compensation range) so you know whether the job is potentially worth your time, said Scott Swedberg, CEO and founder of The Job Sauce.

Good recruiters also work very hard on relevancy and alignment and provide fully transparent communication. They take the time to read your profile and connect the dots before emailing you about an opportunity. They explain the details of the entire hiring process and the characteristics of the work environment, both positive and negative.

Bad recruiters take a high-volume approach. By necessity, they try to force candidates through a process and hope something will stick, Swedberg said.

They Empathize with the Job Hunter

You can spot capacity for empathy from the first “hello.” The best recruiters practice empathy at every stage of the hiring process. They understand your feelings and fears and try to put themselves in your shoes. They patiently provide coaching and moral support and suggest ways to improve your market presence and help you advance through the hiring process.

Bad recruiters support the preconception that recruiters are self-serving. They think of interviews as transactional and are only interested in pitching their current openings or closing a deal. 

They Follow the 80/20 Rule

The best recruiters invest time in getting to know you as an individual, including your skills and interests and what you need to take the next step in your career. The bad recruiters are focused on building their pipeline.

Choosing a recruiter who is genuinely interested in being your advocate and helping you achieve your career and financial goals is often something you can tell from the first conversation or email. A good recruiter spends 80 percent of the time listening and asking questions, and won’t discuss a job until they know what’s important to you. A bad recruiter pitches you jobs that aren’t a good fit and focuses on immediate results. A good tech recruiter will make sure both the tech manager and the tech job seeker find what they’re looking for.

They Prioritize Quality Over Quantity

The best recruiters are working with fewer candidates but making more placements, Boorman said. How is that possible?  

Good recruiters have figured out that a fully remote recruiting process requires greater attention to detail, deeper knowledge of candidates and hiring managers, and more time developing relationships and building rapport. The more successful recruiters provide a highly personalized experience; they spend less time chasing new business and more time serving existing clients.

Bad recruiters haven’t adapted to the current environment. The continue to believe (and act like) recruiting is a numbers game… and no one likes being treated like a number.

6 Responses to “How to Spot Good (and Bad) Recruiters in an Age of Remote Work”

  1. Semi-retired

    I hear from a lot of recruiters. In a busy week there are 30 to 40 and in a slow week there are 10 to 12. About 99 percent are Indian and of those about 99 percent are incompetent and worthless and hit all of the bad recruiter points in this Dice article. It is obvious that most of them never read my resume before contacting me. The ones that cold call me almost never provide the key information up-front and have no respect for my time, especially when my resume says “Please absolutely no phone calls”. I don’t know where they get my phone number from. The ones that lie about the position being 100 percent remote or remaining remote are just transactional. Dice has a service for recruiters and job seekers but it is filled with the standard bad Indian recruiters. The service allows you to block a recruiter after they contact you. As in the well-read Reddit post says “I’ve concluded INDIAN RECRUITER = BAD JOB”.

  2. Experienced

    How about these same recruiters having no idea of the platform the application they are recruiting for. That had happened some many times in my experience. It is very obvious to an experienced person when they have made no attempt to actually read a resume.

  3. Semi-retired

    I got a call today from another Indian recruiter. His accent was unintelligible and the connect was so bad that he must have been located offshore in India. He was calling me about a chemist job. I am in IT and not chemistry, but I once worked at a laboratory so maybe his word search caught the word “laboratory”. These Indian recruiters are incompetent and worthless.

  4. I too have had this extremely unprofessional experience with INDIAN recruiters to the extent that I just immediately make their email go to SPAM. The most annoying thing is the part at the end of their email that says I can UNSUBSCRIBE from them when I never subscribed to them in the first place. Since I do ask where they got my contact info 100% say they got it from DICE…can’t you stop just letting these HORRIBLE people getting our contact info? Most are in a three level scam to place us at an INDIAN contracting company like INFOSYS, COGNIZANT, TATA,, and others who claim to have an exclusive contract with the final client and 9 times out of 10 it is a bold faced LIE. I am using other pathways and approaches to get opportunities and if this keeps up I will HAVE to cease any profile on here…

  5. Almost hired

    I’ve dealt with a lot of recruiters this time round, but I think it’s helped me get crystal clear on what I want – so no, I’m not going to accept less than what I told you is my minimum hourly rate and I’m not going to lie about where I’m located. There’s room for improvement .