The Difference Between a Good Recruiter and a Bad Recruiter

How do you distinguish between a good and a bad recruiter? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.

You can learn a lot about a person if you understand what drives her.

A good recruiter is a professional matchmaker who enjoys helping a company and the right candidate find each other across a crowded room.

A bad recruiter is motivated only by the commission they are getting today and does not bother with the long game: getting to know you or calling you back if the company has said they are not interested. This attitude betrays short sightedness: recruiting is a relationship business.

A good recruiter:

  • Can be trusted, is discreet, calls when she says she will, shows up to meetings and never fails to follow up.
  • Communicates clearly, asks the right questions, is direct, tells the truth and knows how to deliver difficult messages with grace. She is an ally, and the way she says things sheds light on what you need to work on for future interviews, such as “The company did not think you were right for this position because when you said you were mostly interested in strategy they got the impression you would consider tactical work to be beneath you.”
  • Understands that her only client is the candidate, not the company who pays her. This is because if the candidate is assisted in finding the right job, everything else falls into place, including the paying company feeling like the money they spent was worth it because they found exactly the person they were looking for.
  • Wants to listen. She does a better job if she understands what you are looking for, the kind of job you want now and the kind of career you might want later, the jobs where you have been the happiest and the situations that tend to set you up to succeed. Good recruiters have been working with the same candidates for years, build networks, are well connected, and get recommended through word of mouth.

A bad recruiter:

  • Has no intention of talking to you. She reaches out without knowing you and without asking you anything insists you look into jobs that you already know are not what you are looking for.
  • Does not have a good grasp on the job description and as such is unable to answer basic questions about what the company wants.
  • Takes advantage of your despair or lack of experience and insists the wrong job is actually right for you. This typically means that the candidates this recruiter recommends leave a few months after they are hired, which is bad for the candidate and for the company.
  • Is indiscreet, or gossips. You should be able to talk to a recruiter about the challenges your team faces, such as “we believe a certain employee will be leaving soon and want to keep an eye out for how to replace him so that we are ready, but none of this can yet be made public”. If a recruiter reveals information that clearly should not be shared chances are high that she talks to others about things you have told her in confidence.
  • Doesn’t follow through. If you don’t get a job you deserve a call back, and a clear explanation as to why the company chose not to hire you.

If the recruiter does their job right, they can continue working with you on other opportunities and you will think to call her the next time you are looking for a job.

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