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Working with a recruitment agency can often feel like a dead-end process. You submit your resume to one of their advertised jobs and no one gets back to you. You start to wonder why you haven’t been contacted, “Am I not good enough for that job? But I have all the requirements?”.

In the hopes of getting some clarity, you call the agency and ask to speak with the recruiter but you’re endlessly transferred until you finally make it through to someone who hasn’t even heard of the person you’re trying to reach in the first place! It’s at this point that the irony hits you. You realize the squashed stress ball in the palm of your hand displays the name of the firm you’re currently being sent down a telephone “black hole” with. Finally, a weird piece of marketing paraphernalia that you can use. 

It doesn’t have to be this way! Forming the initial relationship with the “RIGHT” recruiter shouldn’t be daunting or unsuccessful. There are some excellent recruiters out there who will go the extra mile and partner with you to help find what you’re looking for.

So here are my Golden Rules for when you’re looking to work with a new recruiter: 

1. Ask Around for Referrals and Meet Face to Face with a Few Recruiters

Working with a recruiter that has been recommended to you from a friend, ex-colleague, or contact is a great way for you to meet recruiters with a proven track record. It’s also good for you to be introduced to that recruiter by the person they already know as this gives them some comfort around your ability. Kind of like a business reference.

However, be careful not to fall into the trap of thinking that the recruiter that works best for your friend will be best for you. 

Find a recruiter who specializes in the area you work or are trying to get into. They will have more contacts in that specific area and also more market knowledge to share with you. Take some time to meet face to face with these people. If they won’t meet with you- they are not worth working with.  

2. Establish Ground Rules

Inquire about the recruiter’s process and ask when the best times are to get in touch. Equally share the best way to contact you and the best time to get hold of you. If both parties understand each other’s expectations, timeframes, and work schedules then it’s more likely to be a successful working relationship.

3. Treat Your Recruiter Like a Potential Employer

This is very important. After all, you never get a second chance to make a first impression! The recruiter holds that relationship with the client and it’s their job to find the best candidate. If you impress them they will not only recommend you to this particular client but will instead push as hard as they can to get you in the door at all their clients!

Dress to impress, be on time, have a clear understanding of why you are there, and be able to speak to your experience and have some smart, relevant questions for them. When you meet them, be prepared for a tough interview (a good recruiter will interview you well so that they can follow up with coaching advice, and determine cultural and technical fit before recommending to one of their clients).

As someone who has met with thousands of candidates throughout my career, making a good first impression with a recruiter will have a huge impact on your ability to secure the new job you have been searching for.

4. Don’t Use a Recruiter Who Isn’t Honest with You

You need to be able to trust your recruiter. Your recruiter should have the experience and knowledge to advise you through your interactions with the client. If they don’t tell you the truth about the companies or the candidates they represent, this is a huge red flag. If they don’t deliver on what they promise, it’s time to walk away.

Equally, be honest with your recruiter. Nothing frustrates a recruiter more than being lied to or not being fully updated as to what is going on elsewhere in your job search. I find most recruiters just want to know the truth so they can work with you rather than finding valuable information out the last minute.

If you’re dishonest with a recruiter then why would they be confident in recommending you to one of their clients?

5. Have Patience

Losing Patience

Just because you haven’t heard from your recruiter in a few days doesn’t mean they are working for you. Most recruiters will give you an idea of timelines and when they will be back in touch. Remember recruiters are at the mercy of their clients and getting feedback from clients can be a challenge. There’s nothing worse for a recruiter than receiving a call from you each day asking for an update.

Trust me, when they get feedback, they’ll call. A key is to remain in touch weekly and sometimes a simple email asking how things are going is enough to prompt an update from your recruiter. 

6. Remain in Contact Even When You Are Happily Employed

Any good business relationship is formed over meaningful touchpoints over some time. You wouldn’t expect to pick up where things left off with an acquaintance you hadn’t spoken to in a few years. The same applies to your recruiter.

If you secure a job by yourself, or circumstances change and you no longer need a recruiter to make sure to let them know and stay in touch. There will come a time when you’re again looking for a job you won’t have to do the obligatory recruiting courtship again.

You may think you no longer need that recruiter, but a good recruiter will call you for that dream job when it arises and you want to make sure you foster that relationship. If you shut the door to them and say “I’m sick of my recruiter always calling me about a new job” then you will undoubtedly miss out at some point. 

Final Thoughts

The key to your job success is identifying 2-3 good recruiters who demonstrate an understanding of what you’re looking for and maintain an open honest line of communication. Don’t pester, don’t “go dark” for months on end, offer market insight, and ask for some back.

Give referrals and show loyalty. If you invest your time and offer reciprocity in the relationship then you will no doubt see results.


Written By
Amanda Anderson is a Mergers and Acquisitions Associate, Business Owner, and Executive Recruiter with a focus on Information Technology in the Greater Toronto Area. She has over 9 years Business Consulting experience across Canada, Australia, and Middle East. She believes in customer experience and understands the importance of being able to offer specialist advice whether it be to businesses regarding their recruitment strategies or candidates making that next career move.

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