An Easy Checklist To Qualify Recruiters

Last week my article "How To Choose A Recruiter" generated more views than almost all of my previous articles combined, and I was flooded with more than 100 messages and emails thanking me for explaining my reasoning. I also received more than 200 requests asking for the checklist that I referenced in the article, so I decided I would create a long form article explaining the checklist, and how it can help you fully qualify recruiters that reach out to you. The checklist basically takes my previous article (found here if you haven't read it yet: ) and puts it into action, showing you how to best utilize the information. I am more than happy to send you a PDF copy if you want for your own use.

o How did you find me?

*This gives you some insight as to how the recruiter operates. Did they find your profile on LinkedIn? Facebook? Corporate directory/website? Did they find your contact info already in their database?

o Are you contacting me about a particular job or just general interest?

*This questions helps determine if the recruiter is more opportunity-based or network-based. It helps focus the endpoint/goals of this specific candidate/recruiter interaction. I describe the difference as either a proactive recruiter, or a reactive recruiter. If there is a particular opportunity, there is a chance that when you reply back or hang up the phone, you may never hear from the recruiter again. If someone else in the agency rejects your candidacy for the role, they may just move on...same if the client rejects you, or if they come across candidates that they feel are better to submit (meaning they may not even submit you). At that point your information is in a database and the next time an opportunity pops up, someone in the agency will find your info in a search and reach out. But if the recruiter is more proactive, they will take more time to learn about what you may be looking for, and develop a plan to help you find those particular opportunities.

o How long have you worked at your firm? Where did you work prior?

*This can help the candidate establish how successful the recruiter is. If s/he hasn't worked there long, they may be just bulking up their candidate database/network by basically introducing themselves. Asking them where they worked prior is important as well, to establish how experienced they are in the field they are recruiting for...or if they come from a sales background. As I described in my previous article, a sales background is great for obtaining company clients, but you don't want them using their sales techniques to close you as a candidate.

o What industries do you recruit for? Did you recruit for prior industries?

*This establishes if they are an expert in their field and how much time and is usually an indicator of how much focus they will place on helping place you. If you are a Sr. Tax Partner, you don't want them splitting their time and energy also looking to place a Director or IT or some industrial labor. The more industries they recruit for, that usually means they are desperate to fill jobs and will take on any job order that comes in. That also usually means they don't fully understand the intricacies and issues of your particular industry .

o What were your last 3 successful searches?

*Again, establishing the fact that the recruiter is successful is important. You want to know that the recruiter is capable of actually placing you. Plus if its been months, or their last job fill was nothing relevant to your industry, move on.

o When/How often should I expect to hear updates from you? Will I be updated when you are updated?

*You have a great discussion, you send your resume and blow in the wind for weeks. Recruiters are notorious for lack of follow up and just moving on to the next deal. Establish guidelines for working together! Make sure they follow up when they say they will follow up.

o Are you working directly with the client, or is someone else at your firm the client contact?

*Ideally you want to work with a recruiter that is also working directly with the client. Those recruiters usually know/understand the client best and can answer detailed questions. Otherwise it usually leads to time lags and potential for miscommunication.

o How long have you worked with this particular client?

*Related to the want to be sure the recruiter really understands the client, the client's goals, and what the client is actually like, to help you make informed decisions.

o Will you revise my resume without my knowledge?

*Some recruiters revise resumes. You want to make sure you require approval before they do that. You don't want them lying on your can really backfire. Let them know that it is not ok to do without discussing first.

o Have you sent resumes without candidate knowledge? 

*I can't tell you how many candidates, when I am discussing firms, say the phrase "not that I know of." You want to know every single place your resume is being sent. You want to make sure 1) You have not sent your resume there previously 2) Make sure they are not sending to a firm where you know the professionals OR the professionals there are close with your current firm 3) That you have a chance to fully check out the company and make sure you are actually interested. Some recruiters think its ok to send out your resume after you provide it. They really do feel that once you provide the resume, you are tacitly agreeing to be blasted out. Make sure you set the ground rules ahead of time to avoid catastrophe.

o I would prefer to hold off on providing references until a client requests them, preferably closer to the offer stage. Do you respect that?

*A common recruiter practice, esp. in large agencies, is to request references in the beginning of the job search. They may agree to not contact the references until later on in the job search, but what you DON'T know is that they are calling those references as leads...either as job/client leads or as candidate leads. Recruiters are taught to call the references in the hopes of getting them as clients...esp. if the candidate is going to accept a new job eventually...this is a warm lead. The recruiter knows there will be an opening soon, so they try to establish a relationship. Or they flat out try to recruit the reference. Recruiting firms have "call days" and are always looking to add names to their target lists.

o Do you agree to obtain my consent prior to submitting a resume to a firm?

*If they say no, move on. Simple as that.

o If you submit my resume to a firm without my knowledge, do you agree to relinquish the rights to my resume if I (or another recruiter) submits a resume to the same company?

*If they say no, move on. Simple as that. If they agree to get your consent, and then send the resume without your permission, make sure they do not have a claim to a fee. Here is a scenario that has affected me at least 50 times. I recruit a candidate and fully vet them for a position at Company X. The candidate does their due diligence and is extremely interested in Company X. I go to the hiring manager/Partner and discuss the candidate. Company X is now interested. The hiring manager/Partner sends the resume off to HR to schedule an interview/start the interview process. HR realizes that a recruiter, without the candidates knowledge, sent the resume 6 months prior. Now, even though I am the one that made the connection and generated Company X's interest, the other recruiter is the one who is legally owed the fee because they sent the resume "first." Most companies don't feel like enduring a recruiting firm headache and simply pass on the candidate. The candidate loses out, plain and simple. The same happens if your resume is already at a client that you see an ad for and apply. They may like you, but aren't in a position/willing to pay a fee right now and your candidacy is over before it began.

You don't know which recruiter to use? Utilize the checklist. Look at the answers they give you. If you are uncomfortable with any of them, just move on. You don't have to settle, and you don't have to agree to their terms. It's their sale. It's your career.

For more about me, please visit my profile @

For more information about my firm, or the positions I am currently working on, please visit

Views: 72


You need to be a member of RecruitingBlogs to add comments!

Join RecruitingBlogs


All the recruiting news you see here, delivered straight to your inbox.

Just enter your e-mail address below


RecruitingBlogs on Twitter

© 2020   All Rights Reserved   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Privacy Policy  |  Terms of Service