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How to Spot Good (and Bad) Recruiters in an Age of Remote Work

How can you find a recruiter who has adapted and remained relevant with all the recent changes to the hiring process?

Leslie Stevens-Huffman, Dice Insights

May 16, 2022

When you’re searching for a new job, you want to work with highly effective, knowledgeable and personable recruiters. How can you find a recruiter who has adapted and remained relevant with all the recent changes to the hiring process?

Here are some ways to distinguish between good (and bad) recruiters right off the bat in the age of fully remote recruiting.

They Give, Not Just Take

The best recruiters know what’s happening in the marketplace and willingly share knowledge and advice with the members of their network and the greater tech community; the takers only post jobs.

You should be able to reach out publicly or privately and have a genuine conversation with a recruiter about market conditions. They should tell you what to expect in terms of the hiring process and timeline without you having to submit a résumé or application, noted Bill Boorman, a talent acquisition advisor and consultant to tech companies and startups.

For instance, fully remote hiring processes often have fewer steps, but getting an offer can take longer because managers have a hard time trusting someone they haven’t met in person, Boorman added. A good recruiter can help you establish trust and land an offer since you’ll know what to expect.

Your first step in finding a competent recruiter is to look for someone who contributes to the community and who responds quickly to inquiries without asking for anything in return.

They Respect Your Time

No one has the time to read every unsolicited job description they receive from recruiters. That’s why good recruiters provide all the key information up-front (including the job title, name of the company and compensation range) so you know whether the job is potentially worth your time, said Scott Swedberg, CEO and founder of The Job Sauce.

Good recruiters also work very hard on relevancy and alignment and provide fully transparent communication. They take the time to read your profile and connect the dots before emailing you about an opportunity. They explain the details of the entire hiring process and the characteristics of the work environment, both positive and negative.

Bad recruiters take a high-volume approach. By necessity, they try to force candidates through a process and hope something will stick, Swedberg said.

They Empathize with the Job Hunter

You can spot capacity for empathy from the first “hello.” The best recruiters practice empathy at every stage of the hiring process. They understand your feelings and fears and try to put themselves in your shoes. They patiently provide coaching and moral support and suggest ways to improve your market presence and help you advance through the hiring process.

Bad recruiters support the preconception that recruiters are self-serving. They think of interviews as transactional and are only interested in pitching their current openings or closing a deal. 

They Follow the 80/20 Rule

The best recruiters invest time in getting to know you as an individual, including your skills and interests and what you need to take the next step in your career. The bad recruiters are focused on building their pipeline.

Choosing a recruiter who is genuinely interested in being your advocate and helping you achieve your career and financial goals is often something you can tell from the first conversation or email. A good recruiter spends 80 percent of the time listening and asking questions, and won’t discuss a job until they know what’s important to you. A bad recruiter pitches you jobs that aren’t a good fit and focuses on immediate results. A good tech recruiter will make sure both the tech manager and the tech job seeker find what they’re looking for.

They Prioritize Quality Over Quantity

The best recruiters are working with fewer candidates but making more placements, Boorman said. How is that possible?  

Good recruiters have figured out that a fully remote recruiting process requires greater attention to detail, deeper knowledge of candidates and hiring managers, and more time developing relationships and building rapport. The more successful recruiters provide a highly personalized experience; they spend less time chasing new business and more time serving existing clients.

Bad recruiters haven’t adapted to the current environment. The continue to believe (and act like) recruiting is a numbers game… and no one likes being treated like a number.

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