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10/31/21 - How to Find a Recruiter to Level Up Your Job Search

By Gabrielle Gardiner 

Finding a recruiter in 2020 looks entirely different than it did last year. The effects of COVID-19 have severely impacted businesses around the globe, and the norms of recruiting and how to find a recruiter have changed. With such a high volume of applicants and a completely digital hiring process, it's more important than ever to stand out from the crowd. Working with a third-party recruiter could be exactly what you need to get ahead in this competitive job market. Keep in mind that headhunters and executive search professionals fall under the umbrella of the term "third-party recruiter."

Working with a recruiter can be a win-win situation that speeds up your job search. If you know how to find a recruiter and maximize your time working with one, it can be a game-changer for your career as well. Below, we've outlined our advice for finding the right recruiters and building mutually beneficial relationships with them.

Benefits of Working with a Recruiter
Working with a recruiter is a great move for goal-oriented job seekers. As you figure out how to find a recruiter, practice articulating your specific career goals. Since most third-party recruiters work on commission based on job placements, they want to help you land the right position efficiently. Some of the reasons people love working with recruiters include the ability to:

  • Access more jobs due to recruiters' running list of opportunities.
  • Network on a large scale thanks to recruiters' relationships with hiring managers.
  • Save time because recruiters narrow down potential positions to find the right match.
  • Stress less because if one opportunity doesn't work out, recruiters usually have a backlog of other options.

Recruiters have a vested interest in making sure a job is a good fit for you, but they don't necessarily provide career guidance. Most won't have the bandwidth to help you narrow down your interests and pinpoint potential jobs, so it's best to rethink the idea of working with a recruiter if you're still figuring out your desired career path.

5 Expert Tips On How to Find a Recruiter

1) Start by leveraging your contacts

In order to find a trusted recruiter, it helps to start within your personal and professional circles. Leverage your contacts and reach out to friends, family and even your school alumni network in your field. Ask if they can introduce you to any recruiters based on their experiences. Mutual connections help start a recruiter relationship off on the right foot. However, a glowing personal recommendation doesn't exempt you from vetting the recruiter yourself.

2) Evaluate recruiters based on your own criteria

Recruiters are similar to salespeople in the sense that they are "selling" jobs to candidates, and then selling those candidates to hiring managers. Be sure to do your due diligence to determine that you and your recruiter are on the same page. Understanding how recruiters find candidates can help you increase the likelihood of finding the right opportunity as quickly as possible. A few questions to ask yourself:

  • Is the recruiter professional, organized and tech-savvy?
  • Is the recruiter clear about when/how they can be reached? Are they responsive?
  • Is the recruiter willing to assist you in preparing for an interview they helped set up?
  • Does the recruiter seem to have your best interest in mind?
  • Does the recruiter seem willing to stay in touch, even if working with them doesn't work out the first time?

3) Use LinkedIn to maximize connections with recruiters

LinkedIn is one of the best platforms for connecting with recruiters. Recruiters on LinkedIn search for candidates based on their work history, job title or college. Here are a few ways to make sure your profile is helping you rather than hurting you:

  • Express your personal brand story on LinkedIn. Don't forget to optimize your LinkedIn summary with industry keywords, too.
  • Remove irrelevant work experience to accurately represent your goals. Make sure nothing is outdated so you appear in the right recruiter's searches.
  • Let recruiters know you're open to opportunities. Change your settings to "Letting Recruiters Know You're Open" on your LinkedIn profile.
  • Join and participate in LinkedIn Groups. Recruiters notice how active you are in your industry. Also, engage with industry leaders and the content they produce to stand out.
  • Update your skills section and request endorsements. LinkedIn takes endorsements seriously and recruiters may use these sections to filter out candidates. If it's appropriate, request a recommendation, too.

4) Focus on finding recruiters who understand your niche

Finding a recruiter who fully understands the nuances of your industry might take more work, but it will undoubtedly be worth it. Some of the best recruiters are industry-focused so they can use their expertise to make the most accurate matches. Linkedin is great for working with recruiters to a certain extent, but it has its limitations.

Depending on your profession and the stage of your career, you'll want to look into more advanced recruiter resources. For example, you might need to get creative with searching recruiter directories like Tools like these allow you to apply specialized filters for finding a recruiter. After all, highly sought-out recruiters who understand your niche can be difficult to find.

5) Build meaningful relationships with recruiters at scale

In an ultra-competitive world, you have to get in front of as many recruiters as possible to hedge your bets. Recruiters recognize the fact that you're working with multiple different people, but they won't be impressed if you advertise it. Avoid awkward mix-ups by using a spreadsheet or another organizational method to maintain information about your recruiter contacts. If you want to be memorable to recruiters, you'll want to prove you remember small details about your interactions with them.

Take thorough notes after every interaction, include the date and add them to your designated spreadsheet. It's a helpful habit to build personal recruiter relationships that go beyond the surface level. Especially in a world where you can only be judged by your digital interactions, it pays to follow up promptly and thoughtfully. Use the same strategy for fostering professional relationships through networking when you team up with recruiters. You'll be amazed at how eager recruiters will be to work with you.

As you navigate the competitive post-pandemic job market, working with a recruiter can help you level up your job search. Ideally, recruiters should be strategic partners in your job hunt who you can count on. If you're new to working with recruiters, don't get discouraged if your efforts aren't successful in the beginning.

Remember, working with recruiters is a long game. Persistence pays off. By adopting some of our strategies, we hope you'll start to receive more responses and notice recruiters seeking you out, too. 

Gabrielle Gardiner is a Manhattan-based content writer who creates helpful pieces about job hunting and professional development for LiveCareer. She’s passionate about sharing her insights to empower people to level up in their careers. In her free time she enjoys yoga, running, and exploring all that New York has to offer.