Pick any profession and you will find some great practitioners and others that are dreadfully bad and completely incompetent. We all know someone who has dealt with, or have experienced first hand, a supposed reputable accountant who has led us to a very unpleasant encounter with the Internal Revenue Service. The beautiful dream home that the realtor raved about turned into a money-pit nightmare that cost tens of thousands of dollars of extra work and the plumbing still backs up and floods the master bedroom. Speaking of plumbers, they along with surgeons (and all manner of professionals) always claim that they are the best, smartest and most capable in their respective industries. Some of them suck, but are great salespeople, so you believe them. However, reality turns out otherwise—all talk, no substance and a botched nose job.
I can’t harp on doctors and plumbers, but since I have been in recruiting for most of my adult life (and I’m getting kind-of old, so that’s about 20-plus years), I would like to offer you some color on what a remarkable recruiter should exemplify. This is the type of professional you would like to partner with throughout your career. Also, by pointing out the attributes of a great recruiter, you’ll be able to suss out the losers and posers.
Here are the signs of a remarkable, reputable recruiter:
- He or she is someone who will listen to you. It sounds simple, but many recruiters—similar to most of your family, friends and co-workers—don't bother to listen to you. They pretend that they are; however, they are just biding time until they can talk and set you straight with their brilliant ideas. A remarkable recruiter will ask what you are looking for in a new job. They will also inquire into your long-term career goals and aspirations. This type of high-end recruiter will feel out your risk tolerance level relative to a new job, the compensation and corporate title you require and the type of company you’d like to join. Then, they will actively listen to your answers. When you try to explain to the recruiter what you desire, they won’t talk over you. A top recruiter is someone who puts their ego aside, asks pointed questions that prompt you to critically think about what you are looking for in your next opportunity and what specific objectives you have for your career. They will then patiently listen and absorb all of your answers to really understand you as a person.
- A great recruiter will have an in-depth, intimate knowledge of your industry. When you first meet with a sharp recruiter, they will intuitively understand what you are currently doing in your job and they will be cognizant of the companies that would be a good next step in your career. You would not have to take a deep breath and spend the next hour and a half explaining to them—as if they were a third grader—the nuances of your job and how it's viewed within the industry that you are involved with. The recruiter will immediately know important people that they could introduce you to and also the companies and managers to avoid. They will most likely have more insider knowledge of your space than you have and will gladly share that intelligence with you.
- The recruiter is available when you need them. Surprisingly, they are not always in a meeting, on a conference call, or out of the office and are available to answer your important call. When you call their office you don’t get, “Hello, how may I help you? Who is this? What do you want? I’m sorry. Who are you? Please hold. How do you spell your name? Are you sure you are a client? Please hold. Wait, what’s your name again? Oh, they are not available. No, they can't get back to you since they’re on a four-week scuba diving and windsurfing vacation in Anse La Raie, Mauritius.” The real-deal recruiter will either answer the call or—if busy—return it promptly. If you are having a panic attack before the big interview, they are there for you. They will make sure that you are well prepared for the interview way ahead of time. The top recruiter will offer their assistance at all hours of the day if you need to brainstorm, find an email address to send a thank you letter, stalk the interviewer on LinkedIn on your behalf and and will always provide tips on making a memorable presentation.
- They will offer feedback and constructive criticism throughout the interview process. You don't want a “yes” person who only tells you what you want to hear. If you can't clearly articulate what you do or fail to answer easy softball questions, they will politely point out your challenges and then help you improve.
- In addition to the feedback, a stellar recruiter will be honest with you. Sometimes you need a person to give you the real-deal answers, even if you don't want to hear them. The job you want may be out of your league. The money you desire may be too much. You may not like to hear it, but you need the truth told to you in a kind and sympathetic manner.
- When the job is right, a good recruiter will fight for you. They will negotiate hard and tirelessly work toward getting you the best possible offer. They will also be skilled enough not to lose the offer because of being too pushy or obnoxious.
- A good recruiter will be a cheerleader and encourage you to achieve your goals. When you become afraid to go after your dreams, they will push you to move forward. They will encourage you to go outside your comfort zone. Before an interview, they will help perfect the way you can sell and market yourself, role play what may occur in the meetings, describe the personalities of the interviewers, share where they stand within the organization and infuse you with the knowledge and courage to succeed. If things don’t go well, they will be there too. Just because you may strike out at some interviews, they won't desert you and will stick with you through thick and thin.
- Also, a great recruiter will know when to pull back and not push you. Sometimes you need alone time to reflect and process everything that is happening. A recruiter with high emotional intelligence will perceive this need and will gladly give you time to think without being a nag.
- A great recruiter won't give you sleazy sales pitches, and only share solid appropriate jobs that you would be interested in and are relevant to your experience, background and that offer growth potential and the money you seek.
- A remarkable recruiter will forge a relationship for the long run. You want someone who is a professional that has a long-term, time horizon. They don't look at you as a one-off transaction. Rather, they view you as a mutually beneficial relationship that will last a long time. Even if you are not looking for a job, the recruiter will serve as a sounding board for when you are unsure of whether to take an internal promotion. They will be available to discuss your concerns that you are not receiving a fair raise and address how your compensation compares to others in your field.