How to choose the best agency recruiter ?

Research  tells us that candidates are taking, on average of more than 10 weeks to find a new job. So, not only is it proving a tough climate for job seekers looking to get ahead, the situation has been getting harder. This means that candidates need to be optimizing their use of all the job finding resources available to them, that is if they are to find the best opportunities and land their dream job in the shortest possible time.


One key resource that should not be overlooked is the agency recruiter. Recruiters are the fourth most influential source of hire with 9.1 percent of roles being filled using the services of any agency recruiter. This means that agency recruiters should form a core part of any candidate’s job seeking strategy.

However, all agency recruiters are not the same and some will be better equipped to help you find a job than others. And it is important that you properly assess the marketplace for recruiters before choosing the agent to represent you. This will help ensure that you are working with a top recruiter who is best placed to sell you to the marketplace and get you your dream job. Below, you will find several questions that you, as a job seeker, can ask potential recruiters in order to assess how well placed they are to help you with your job hunt.

  1. Do you specialize in my industry or professional area?

This is a crucial question. The best employers like to work with recruitment agents who specialize in their industry or profession area. So, if you want to access the best jobs/firms, choose a specialist agency. As well as the agency itself being a specialist, the agency’s recruiter should have at least two years of specialism in your niche too, and the longer the better. The best way to establish this information is by asking and by reviewing the agency team’s individual LinkedIn profiles.

  1. Can you tell me the number of placements you have made in the last six months and the titles of these roles?

Recruiters should be able to provide you with details of placements that they have made that are similar in nature to roles that you would be suited for. They may be reluctant to give you specific names of employers though.

You also want to see if they have a good pipeline of opportunities in your niche, e.g. if they place two or three people a month in your niche then this sounds like a well connected recruiter, but if he/she has only placed one in six months it could mean that they are outside the loop and opportunities may be thin on the ground, which suggests it could be worth looking elsewhere.

  1. What is their process, i.e. how will they market you to employers?

You need to establish things like whether they will be proactively marketing you to a range of employers. Or will they simply contact you when they have an opportunity that suits your skills and experience? If so, how many suitable opportunities do they expect to come in during a typical month? If they appear highly proactive and confident that they will provide a good volume of opportunities, you might consider working with them exclusively. If not, you should probably consider working with additional recruiters to ensure you get enough opportunities coming in to your inbox.

  1. How many people do they typically put forward for a role?

The best recruiters will be focused on quality and not quantity and will provide their clients with high-quality shortlists of around four-to-six people. This will not only increase your chances of being selected for interview (assuming you are shortlisted), but it can also indicate that the agent has a strong relationship with the employer, which means that their candidates may be given priority over other agency’s candidates.

  1. Can you tell me how I rank against my peers? There are other variations of this question that you can ask to get the same effect. For example:
  • Do you have a lot of job seekers on your books with similar skills to me?
  • What makes me stand out from the crowd?
  • Why would you shortlist me for a role over other candidates?
  • Are there any roles that my skill set/background makes me especially suited to?

This relates to question four. If they answer this well and can demonstrate that they believe you stand out from the crowd, then it is very likely you will make it to their shortlists, and this is a good agent to be working with. If you appear to just be one of a crowd, then you may fail to be noticed and your chances of being shortlisted may be slim. This means you might need to consider another agent who may potentially work harder for you.

  1. Do you have any exclusivity agreements with your clients? Roughly what percentage of your engagements are exclusive?

This is important. Where possible, work with agents who have exclusivity agreements with a client, as this means your resume will not be competing with resumes from other agents, increasing your chance of interview.

  1. How long do you estimate that someone with my skills and experience will take to get a job with your agency, based on your experience with candidates?

The best recruiters who are experienced in your sector should be able to provide you with an individualized estimated time to hire, even if it does have some caveats. If a recruiter is uncertain about when they can place you by, it means that they are not confident in your level of employability, which suggests they might not work that hard for you and means it could be worth looking elsewhere.


“people are not your most important asset. the right people are.” – jim collins


By Malbert Rodrigues