Should you work with a recruiter?

Considering contacting a recruiter for your job search? You’ll need to first understand how this relationship works, then locate and nurture the best sources of recruiters for your field.

First of all, your best option is to contact more than one recruiter during a job search.

For jobseekers who don’t grasp the overall strategy of recruiting, this may seem confusing. Can’t the recruiter you called just find you a job?

Well, no. The companies that contact recruiters to fulfill their hiring needs are the recruiter’s true clients (not jobseekers).
Therefore, since recruiters work for (and are paid by) client companies, they do not have allegiance to any particular candidate and WILL NOT FIND JOBS FOR YOU—unless your expertise matches their client’s needs.
In addition, many recruiters now work globally to source the best candidates for their clients. Therefore, a recruiter based in Texas may recruit a Colorado candidate to fill an open slot in New York City. Given that recruiters are looking for that perfect match, it can be in your best interest to present your resume to more than one recruiter or recruiting firm.
Here are 3 ways to find and make the best use of recruiter contacts:

1 – Find recruiters that specialize in your area of expertise.
Google for recruiters that fit your skills and field, using search terms such as “recruiter IT” or “recruiter operations” to get lists of firms that source candidates for particular fields. Some websites, such The Riley Guide, also offer lists of recruiting firms by specialty.
Another option is to use a recruiter directory such as or Here, you can specify either a location or a particular field in order to guide you to firms that fit your situation.
Yet another alternative is to send out a recruiter email distribution. While this is certainly NOT a guaranteed strategy, it can save you many hours of time (if you intend to spend those hours emailing your resume to recruiters).
Many firms offer resume distribution, with fees that vary from $50 to more than $300. The general feedback on these services is that you get what you pay for in terms of better quality contacts. Of course, using this method means that you will lose the personal touch associated with calling each agency.
Larger, well-known recruiting firms, such as Heidrick & Struggles and Korn Ferry also specialize in executive recruiting for varied skill sets.
2 – Adjust your resume style for a recruiter.
Recruiters often scan resumes very quickly for experience and education, and prefer straightforward, chronological resumes. They are usually looking for job histories that match specific criteria—meaning that they are not able to match candidates to jobs outside of their experience.
If you plan to change careers or industries, it is best to avoid contacting recruiters, as their client companies pay them to find seasoned candidates with specific experience in the desired field.
However, if you plan to stay in the same industry and have a solid career background, you will be an attractive candidate for recruiters. An impressive academic background is also desirable, as is the candidate who has held no more than 3 jobs in the past 10 years.
3 – Cultivate long-term recruiter relationships.
Keep in mind that many recruiters stay in touch with their clients on a regular basis, and are therefore a great source of information on the industry or a particular field of expertise.
It’s a good idea to stay in touch with a recruiter from time to time, as new job requirements can pop up even months after you’ve first contacted them. As many recruiters fill a multitude of job orders and talk with many candidates, they may not recall your area of expertise unless you stay on their radar.
Most importantly, treat the recruiter relationship as you would any business arrangement, with courtesy and attention to follow-up. Offer to pass along the recruiter’s contact information to other valuable candidates as well, as most recruiters will appreciate—and remember—your responsiveness and professionalism.

One thought on “Should you work with a recruiter?

  1. Sophie Mortimer says:

    Thanks for the strategies! Your tips on how to adapt a resume for a recruiter were helpful. I had a question about one of your points, though. You said that one attractive aspect of a resume for recruiters is that the applicant had no more than 3 jobs in the last 10 years. Does this apply if each job is a step up from the last? I don’t know many people who pass up an opportunity for career advancement. Would having 5 jobs in 10 years (each better than the last) be considered a red flag to executive search firms?

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