The time to contact a recruiter is at the beginning of your search, not after you’ve sent your resume to every company in the industry or geographical area that you’re willing to entertain. Your resume is already on every company’s desk, and a recruiter can’t open a door that you’ve already tried to open yourself-and failed.
One of the most reliable ways in which to find a reputable recruiter is through your associates -certainly ones who have left the company, and especially if they left through a recruiter. Word of mouth is usually a credible way to find a service provider who will perform in a manner agreeable to you. But asking current associates can sometimes compromise your confidentiality unless you absolutely know that you can trust the person.
Try making some cold calls for referrals. Large companies use recruiters with frequency, though they may go through the HR department, so start with asking to speak to one of the executive secretaries. Introduce yourself and see if her boss, or any of the other executives, regularly use a particular firm or individual. You may not get anywhere right off the bat – and you may get sent to HR – but keep trying. You won’t always get warm, fuzzy responses, but as I said, keep phoning. You’re looking for information, not a new best friend.
You can ask HR, although recruiters should work with the hiring authority. That’s not always possible, however, and it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ineffective.
Here are four additional ways to find a recruiter
- Another easy and reputable way to locate an effective recruiter is through previous supervisors. Since you should be in touch with each of them for reference purposes, ask for any recommendations. Chances are one of them has used one or two firms to interview a candidate – or even to change jobs himself at some point – and will be able to tell you if the recruiter paid attention to what he was looking for or merely tried to slam a placement with pressure tactics. At the very least, each boss surely received calls and business cards from several firms seeking to do business and can give you some insight based on the conversations.
- Kennedy Publications prints an annual guide called The Directory of Executive Recruiters. It’s a thick, red book available in the reference section of large public libraries. There are a great many changes each year, so obtaining the most recent edition is important. It lists both retained and contingency firms alphabetically as well as by function, industry and geographic location, and specialties by recruiter name with their corresponding firm. You can also buy a 1-year, online subscription at purpose not a job
- Retained firms generally handle positions with salaries of $150K and above. If your salary is $100K and lower, start with the contingency firms. The salary range between the two can fall either way – usually toward retained – but there are always a few long-term gurus who began contingency and choose to remain contingency. Their career history is long and solid, and so is their client list.
- Choose your category in the Kennedy guide depending on your priorities. If you need to stay within Chicago, scan by geography for firms that handle your specialty. If you’re willing to move anywhere, then choose by specialty instead. Some retained firms won’t list an area of concentration. Many of them are generalists or change their focus from time to time and thus don’t mention what industries they handle.
- The Employment Agency section of the yellow pages in your local phone book lists more than just secretarial, entry-level, and temporary help. You might find a few out-of-state firms listed because they have connections in your market, though you’ll need to call to learn their specialties.