Is Your Recruiter Right for You?


As an executive recruiter, I would always like to be in a position to help a job seeker. But here’s the honest truth: Sometimes I simply can’t.

Even if it’s an eminently capable person with an incredible CV who reaches out to me. Often, I still can’t. I would like to, of course, but I’m limited by the industry that I work in, the type of recruiting that I do and the needs of my clients.

Rules of the Game

What are some of the common reasons individuals approach recruiters to find a new position?

  1. There’s a good chance we’re more familiar with the job market and potential companies that are hiring in your industry.
  2. We can help you tweak and perfect résumé so you can get your foot in the door.
  3. Often recruiters are trusted 3rd party advisors to an organization. Impress us, and there’s a good chance that the hiring manager will pay close attention to your résumé.

However, these three advantages are contingent on the fact that you’ve approached the right kind of recruiter. Responding to your request to help identify opportunities, a recruiter on the other end of the telephone might say: “Sure, I can help you. Send over your CV.” But this may be less than 100% honest.

Say, for example, that you are a Project Management Professional in the social science research industry, specializing in non-profits. However, you inadvertently contacted a recruiter in for Project Management Professionals in the engineering industry. Despite your best intentions, there is very little chance this person will help you.

By the same token, if you’re a recent PhD graduate and you reach out to an executive recruiting firm that specializes in senior-level hires – even if they work in your field – you might have to wait to accumulate 10 years of experience before this firm places you somewhere! I’m sure this is not what you had in mind at all (disclaimer – this scenario presents itself to me here at Insight Executive Search quite often).


So before you stake your hopes for a career move on a recruiter be sure to do some important vetting of your own.

Always ask:

  1. Do you place people with my background and level of experience?
  2. Can you name me examples of people with my background whom you have recently helped find a job?
  3. When can I expect to hear back from you?

The reason for these simple reality checks is pretty simple. Often, recruiters will say they will be able to help you just to get another résumé to cushion their database and have you on file for a theoretical mandate that may or may not come his way sometime in the near or distant future.

This is a far cry from a recruiter who is at this moment rolling up his sleeves and getting to work identifying organizations who are actually looking for people like you now. If you’re serious about finding your next exciting opportunity, this is the kind of recruiter you’re looking for.

Like I said, I would really like to help everyone. Time is life’s most precious commodity. So even if I can’t help place you in your next role, hopefully I’ve helped you here by saving you time in your search for a recruiter who can.