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How to Get The Best From a Professional Recruiter

When looking to get the most out of working with recruiters, the best place to start is getting a clear understanding of how recruiters earn their fees. It is important to realise that a recruiter, in providing their services to you, is doing so in order to earn a fee from their client company. The client will only be prepared to pay a fee if they believe they receive a valuable service which enhances their ability to reach and recruit the best candidates available in the market.

The recruiters’ job is to match the most employable candidate with the most attractive role. Each recruiter can only manage a finite number of roles at any one time; they therefore look for clients who offer competitive packages to their employees, a pleasant working environment, and the opportunity for training and career advancement.  Once they have established a relationship with a number of companies within their niche market, they will engage with the potential candidate pool.  This is where you have to position yourself as the most employable candidate, and where your ‘Personal Brand’ is important.

The next step is to ensure there is a match with technical skills, cultural compatibility, and that both candidate and client have shared goals and aspirations. The recruiter will now present the client with the top 3 most employable candidates for the role. To decide the top 3 they will review, depending on the scarcity of the skills, anything up to 30 candidates and will have detailed conversations with 15 – 20, until deciding their top 6 candidates. The next part of the process is to qualify each candidate in detail; to draw out any impediment to a successful placement.  Finally, the top 3 are decided and a detailed candidate profile is written to support each individual.

How do you ensure you are one of the top 3 candidates? Firstly, build a relationship with the recruiter. This is best done by restricting the number of staffing agencies you work with; this will increase your chance of success, especially if you use a specialist. This gives you time to research the opportunities presented, avoids confusion, and builds trust between you and the Recruiter.

You can help yourself by utilising the recruiters’ knowledge. Listen to the advice they give to you prior to interview, they are working in your best interest as it is also their best interest. They can prepare you with an understanding of what is important to the hiring manager.  They will also understand the soft skills that the client is looking for, which will give you a competitive advantage.

The recruiter needs to believe you are going to be a good ambassador for them and their company, so make sure you play your part in thoroughly researching the client, by visiting their website, Linkedin and Facebook pages and following them on Twitter. You need to demonstrate your knowledge and commitment to the interview process and your ultimate goal of receiving a job offer. Prepare thoroughly for the interview by reviewing the requirements of the position on offer and ensuring you can demonstrate that your experience is relevant. Prepare your answers and communicate beforehand with the recruiter; their knowledge of the client will help you. Remember that good preparation reduces interview nerves. It is very important to be open and honest at all times as this will enable the recruiter to overcome any objections the employer may have, either when reviewing your CV or following the interview.

Finally, keep in mind that you and the recruiter are in this together. You landing the job of your dreams is what you are both working towards.


  • Build Rapport and a Relationship with the Recruiter
  • Restrict the number of Recruiters and use a Specialist
  • Listen to their Advice and Use their Knowledge
  • Show you are going to be a Great Ambassador for the Recruiter
  • Thoroughly prepare for the Interview
  • Keep the Recruiter Informed and be Open and Honest

This article is brought to you by Capital International Staffing.

By Karen Silk - Capital International Staffing


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3 thoughts on “How to Get The Best From a Professional Recruiter”

  1. Andy

    Whilst the article is absolutely correct in principle, reality is somewhat different.

    Recruiters often are not specialists in the areas in which they’re recruiting and simply look for key words on a CV. Many recruiters invest very little time and effort in reviewing suitability and simply make contact based on the key word match. It’s not uncommon for a recruiter to call and ask the candidate what they are doing, where they are working, and whether they have X-skill, despite it all being clearly displayed on a CV and can be found within 15 seconds of glancing over it.

    Furthermore, recruiters will bulk-spam candidates for roles that are wholly unsuitable simply because of keyword matches and then have the brazen cheek to note ‘if this role isn;t suitable for you but you know someone who is suitable ….’ effectively outsourcing their time and efforts to candidates. As a hiring manager, I find this frustrating as I’m paying a not insubstantial amount of money in fees for the services to find the best candidate and outsourcing this assignment is lazy recruiting.

    From a candidate perspective, looking for new opportunities is often a meat-market in which several job-boards online are reviewed and irrespective of the agency in question, roles are applied for if they meet the locale, remuneration, and job title required. There is often little to be gained in building up relationships with the purveyors of roles when agencies behave in the manners listed above.

    I appreciate my view is a little more cynical than that of the article, and in an ideal world reality would match the article closer to my diatribe, but experience (from hirer and candidate) tells me that idealism doesn’t match reality.

    • Andy

      … and within minutes of posting the above, here’s a great example of the kind of pointless spam sent out by recruiters (Please note, I have NO Mitel qualifications, None of my former roles have been as a communications engineer or anything close, my last 5 roles were as a manager in Windows technologies, and I live in the south of England:

      “I have an urgent requirement for a Communications Engineer to join a project looking at the deployment of a contact centre starting next Wednesday.

      This role is based in Scotland. Immediate start. Candidates must have Mitel accreditations.

      If interested please get in touch asap with your relevant CV and a call.

      If you’re not suitable to this position please let me know anyone who maybe relevant?”

  2. Richard

    I’m with Andy on this one. It would be great if recruiters did act in the way this article suggests, but I’ve very rarely experienced any of this.

    “Build a relationship with the recruiter”
    After three years in one role, I should have had a fairly good relationship with the agency and I expected them to make some effort to try and place me somewhere else. When the role finished, it was like I’d never existed. And this wasn’t a tiddly agency, this was one of the major firms.
    What if I spend my time building a relationship with a select band of recruiters and they don’t have the role that I’m interested in? It doesn’t seem like a good investment to me.

    “a recruiter, in providing their services to you, is doing so in order to earn a fee from their client company”
    This is fairly key. The recruiter is mostly interested in the fee; they have to play both sides of the board at the same time, but the bias is always going to be towards the side that gives them money. The candidate is a means to that end.

    “How do you ensure you are one of the top 3 candidates?”
    By putting yourself forward for roles that you are very well suited for and by having a good, standout cv that reflects this. The relationship you’ve carefully crafted with your specialist recruiter isn’t going to count for anything if the recruiter doesn’t have that role, or you’re not a good fit.

    “Show you are going to be a Great Ambassador for the Recruiter”
    I’ve never, in twenty years, had an end client that regarded me as anything to do with the agency or recruiter. How I acted and performed reflected on me, not them.

    My approach has always been to look for roles that I can do on the job boards, that my cv already fits in some way. Send my cv off to all that are advertising the role. The first agency that gets back to me positively, gets to put me forward, the rest get told not to bother. I have had some recruiters in this kind of mix not get back to me at all, while others are keen as mustard for the same role, so carefully selecting which ones to approach, for me doesn’t work. If some agents want to build up some kind of rapport, that’s fine, but I’ll let them do the work.

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