Jeff Lipschultz’s Blog

I Think, Therefore I Blog

Recruiting Your Recruiter in the Job Search, Part II

When I launched the original blog post on “Recruiting your Recruiter in the Job Search,” my aim was two-fold: (1) offer sound advice on working with recruiters for the job seekers in my network, and (2) gather more great advice from other recruiters and job search service professionals in my network. The response was tremendous. The feedback I received was very positive and several folks took the time to offer their thoughts on the subject-matter.

This follow-up post is offered as a recap of their thoughts. Much of the commentary emphatically stated all this information should be “required reading for anyone using a recruiter.” More specifically, the more people that understand how to approach using a recruiter, the better the process works for everyone.

Author’s note: A compiled version of the two weblog posts to be used as a reference for all job seekers is available here: A-List Solutions Version of Recruiting your Recruiter for the Job Search.

Feedback from Job Search Professionals Around the Country (most of whom you can find on Twitter):


When it comes to my comments about building a relationship with your recruiter, Steve Jones emphasized that “recruiters talk to each other, and if a candidate burns a bridge with one recruiter he may be burning a bridge with many others, including clients.” David Benjamin agrees there are good and bad professionals in the recruiting just like every other industry. He highlighted that “a good recruiter cares more about ‘fit’ than making a placement.” Brad Hogenmiller emphasized once you find a recruiter you really like, “it’s important for job-seekers to maintain those relationships just as they would with an employer.”

Dawn Bugni whole-heartedly agreed about the advice, “Don’t do an end run around your recruiter.” She provided very important feedback that “many candidates think if two recruiters submit their information, they doubled their chance at the job. WRONG! They’ve just knocked themselves out of the running. Few companies get into a candidate/fee argument between two recruiters. They disqualify the candidate.”

Susan Burns shared that the #1 frustration she has heard from job seekers is that recruiters aren’t following up with them. She went on to say that often times, exec recruiters are responsive when they have a specific job they’re working on, but at other times when the job seeker is trying to reach out and build a relationship, too often the recruiter does not respond. She raised an interesting question that asks, “with the technology and tools available today, what should a job seeker expect from an exec recruiter?”

The answer to the question lies in understanding the recruiter’s world. Abby Locke’s article on Building Effective Relationships with Recruiters highlights that recruiters’ daily responsibilities may include:

  • four to five hours a day on the phone
  • making contact with about 500 people every week
  • receiving anywhere from 500 to 1,000 emails every day

Regardless of technology assistance, job seekers need to OWN the relationship with the recruiter. By this I mean, realize a job seeker can remember a lot more about their recruiter than the reverse. And, a job seeker can check in with them more consistently than the reverse. Additionally, the relationship can be further strengthened, as Abby suggests, by having:

  • specific job targets and a well-defined message
  • a “comprehensive” resume
  • a compelling subject line in all email correspondence
  • something to offer the recruiter

In reading my original post, Jenifer Olson thought it wise to share the difference between the two main types of recruiters: retained recruiters, who are paid by a company to focus on filling a particular position and who are more or less guaranteed payment (usually for a higher level management role); and, contingency recruiters, who compete with recruiters from a number of agencies to fill the position and who are paid only when and if their applicant is hired.

In Jennifer’s experience, the type of recruiter can make a big difference in both the amount and quality of time spent with a job seeker. Therefore, knowing which type you are dealing with is often helpful in managing your expectations about the recruiting process. I agree that retained recruiters may operate a little differently where they can take their time and not worry about competition. In the end, both SHOULD be searching for the best candidate. If a job seeker is a true fit and presents themselves as such, the right result should occur regardless of the type of recruiter. As Jennifer is eluding to, working with contingency recruiters can sometimes be challenging when they are only trying to present a high volume of candidates to increase their chances of placing a candidate. The best recruiters focus on the “A-List” (or best fit) candidates.

Jennifer McClure advised job seekers to “always ask the recruiter how their process works, what happens to their resume if they send it to the recruiter and what should they expect from the recruiter in terms of follow up or actions.” She added that many recruiters do not operate the same way, and “if job seekers would ask these questions of each recruiter they interact with, it would go a long way toward eliminating some of the frustrations with recruiters.”

One of my favorite peers in the industry, David Graziano, offered an additional resource on a related topic: How to Choose and Partner with a Recruiter. In this post, job seekers will learn, amongst other things, questions to ask the recruiter and what they should ask you.

Karla Porter and Grethen Benes appreciated the post and summarized the recruiters’ responsibilities well. Karla stated the post “serves as a great reminder to be all you can be with your clients.” Gretchen accurately stated, “It all comes down to the relationship and being “present” for the process and conversation.”


April 10, 2009 - Posted by | Careers, Job Search, Working with Recruiters


  1. Thanks for the mention!! It is my first. I am going to re-post this series on my web page. I can’t tell you the number of times I have had this discussion with my friends who are working with recruiters!

    Comment by Gretchen | April 10, 2009 | Reply

  2. Great post Jeff. Excellent techniques for the job seeker and credible resources for the job seeker to use in developing a jod search landscape of how to Recruit the Recruiter. I strongly agree withthe emphasis on relationship.

    Comment by David Graziano | April 10, 2009 | Reply

  3. […] of interviewing but Jeff Lipshultz has written a series on Recruiting the Recruiter (Part I) and Recruiting the Recruiter (Part II).  It is one best writings I have read on the “How To” of working with a recruiter; […]

    Pingback by Recruiting the Recruiter | Gretchen Benes | April 10, 2009 | Reply

  4. Jeff,

    This is all great investigative information. One thing I made add and I may have missed it from the series, in which case I am reiterating, is in regards to investigating whether your recruiter has thought about the specific position in which to submit the candidate for. In software (our niche) there are often times more than one position that a candidate is qualified for. We often times come across candidates that have previously been submitted to a company, but for the wrong position. Unfortunately, they company has already made up their mind and it becomes impossible to have a successful rethread of the candidate to a better suited opening. So my advice to the job seeker is to make sure the recruiter can tell you about specific positions and isnt simply blindly submitting you across the board.



    Comment by Gil Vander Voort | April 10, 2009 | Reply

  5. A good article with some excellent observations.

    Comment by Bill Vick | April 10, 2009 | Reply

  6. Great, in depth article.

    Comment by Martin Buckland | April 10, 2009 | Reply

  7. Jeff, you’ve simply done an awesome job of documenting an SOP for the Recruiter / Candidate relationship. It ocurred to me after reading this 2nd post on the subject that this relationship in not unlike that of a doctor and patient.

    A candidate cannot leave her future in the hands of a Recruiter without asking meaningful probing questions. A Recruiter is not a divine entity or a magician. The candidate has to participate in the process not just send a resume. A candidate has to be receptive to critical feedback and work hard at applying it.

    This relationship is sensitive and vital and when managed well by both the Recruiter and candidate leads to success.

    Comment by Karla Porter | April 10, 2009 | Reply

  8. Jeff, thanks for the mention. It’s always about relationships whether you’re selling a car, placing a candidate, or dating someone new. Mutual respect and common goals go a long way towards success. Keep up the great writing.

    Comment by David Benjamin | April 10, 2009 | Reply

  9. Jeff,

    Excellent series of posts on building a relationship with recruiters! Whether an independent consultant or looking for a new position, opportunities come from relationships in today’s economy. Relationships are like spring flowers, lit by respect, watered with care, and fed by mutual trust.

    These aren’t platitudes, but instructions. Respect is earned, but starts by offering it yourself. As you noted, as a candidate, ask about THEIR processes and needs. With this information, you can demonstrate care by offering to assist them with other candidates and leads. Mutual trust is the hardest to develop, as it must be earned and demonstrated.

    As a candidate, the number one way to LOSE trust is to do an “end-run” around a recruiter. For candidates not familiar with this phrase, doing an “end-run” around your recruiter is when a candidate submits their own name directly to a hiring firm after the recruiter opens up and shares that firm’s name with the candidate. As Steve Jones noted, recruiters talk, and an untrustworthy candidate burns many many bridges! I go so far as to emphasize to each recruiter I meet my own personal code of ethics, which begins with ‘The recruiter owns the client’, highlighting that I will not end-run them.

    That said, as a candidate I have a family to care for! So once a recruiter has decided that they do not want to present me to their client for a specific position, while I won’t do an end-run, if another recruiter contacts me for the same position I will then work with them.

    Thanks again Jeff!

    Mark Cummuta
    Twitter: @TriumphCIO
    LinkedIn: MarkCummuta

    Comment by Mark Cummuta | April 11, 2009 | Reply

  10. Jeff–
    Another great article in the series. I continue to coach candidates on how to effectively work with recruiters and am using your series as supporting information.

    I still find the number of candidates staggering who insist to play by their own rules, demand constant attention from the recruiter or get frustrated and try to go direct – even after professional consulting and reading articles from you and feedback from other recruiters.

    Keep up the good work.

    Steve Jones

    Comment by Steve Jones | April 13, 2009 | Reply

  11. […] Your Recruiter (1 and 2) Job Hunters should read this before engaging a recruiter. […]

    Pingback by 090413 Social Recruiting Links | Recruiting News and Views | April 13, 2009 | Reply

  12. Insightful article Jeff. Shares a very helpful perspective.

    Comment by Brenda McLaren | April 15, 2009 | Reply

  13. Great write up Jeff. It’s important for candidates to know how to get the most value from recruiters and you highlight quite a bit of that here. Being proactive is the name of the game.

    -Brad (@JavaSTL)

    Comment by Brad Hogenmiller | June 2, 2009 | Reply

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