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How to select a Staffing Agency or Head hunter for your job search

Anyone who is looking for a new job whether you are unemployed, under employed, or even just employed can (will) tell you how frustrating it is. The steps to do this effectively like preparing your professional resume or CV, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, submitting your resume to job boards, and the like are extremely time consuming activities. Even Hiring Managers who have evaluated other professionals’ resumes can have trouble working on their own resume.

It’s becoming more and more popular to outsource these tasks to Professional Resume writing services, Head Hunters, Staffing Firms and Career Coaches. What many candidates don’t know is how damaging it can be choosing a bad Head Hunter or working with subpar staffing firms. This isn’t hyperbole, it could literally cost you the job of your dreams. 

The recruiting industry is saturated with under trained recruiters and outsourced services spamming every candidate inbox and phone number that they can find. Here are a few tips to selecting the optimal job search partner(s).

A Recruiters Professional Network

One of the greatest resources a Recruiter or Staffing Firm can offer is their network. A Recruiter is only as good as their ability to connect top performing candidates with top employers. If they have a small or nonexistent network that will be hard for them to do.  To be clear, if they do not have the perfect connections that doesn’t necessarily mean they aren’t right for the job. But if all their connections are in the software and technology space and you’re looking for a job in insurance they may not be right for you.

Recruiters Industry & Subject Knowledge

The importance of a Recruiter’s knowledge on your industry and profession is important because the technical knowledge deficit a recruiter has can cause a stop or slow in your job search. They may not be asking you the correct questions, portraying your background correctly to prospecting employers, and may not understand the opportunity that is being presented to you. Recruiters are generally not as proficient in the subject matter as you or their client are, but should be able to understand general terminology, business structures, compensation structures and the like.


With the globalization of business and increasing use of a remote workforce location has been an increasingly interesting area of debate for Recruiters. Many of us staff companies nationally, but we still tend to have geographic areas of interest, or hotspots for the industries we work in. If you are relocating it is particularly important to know the geographic characteristics of your work site. Commute, housing, cost of living, schools, and entertainment should all be taken into consideration and are very relative to you as an employee. Some of our candidates in Texas don’t mind driving an hour to work, while our candidates in the New York or Boston area tend not to like to drive more than 30 minutes.  While our candidates in Los Angeles may spend over an hour to drive less distance than both.  If your Recruiter doesn’t know, make sure you or your potential employer does.

Professional References

One of the best ways to vet a good Head Hunter is to be referred to one by someone who has worked with them. The important part is not if they were successful placed with the staffing firm, but that may be an indication of their effectiveness. The important part is to understand their process, communication, network, and results.

Recruitment Process and Communication

This tends to be the biggest source of blunders for candidates.  There are many types of Recruiters including; corporate recruiters, agency recruiters, temporary or contract recruiters. This article has been concentrating on agency recruiters, who may place candidates in permanent or contract (temporary) capacities. The recruiter’s clients are the companies, unless they are explicitly representing you, they are representing their clients. Hence the nick name Head Hunter, and not “Head Placer”.

 Recruiters will generally not offer to update your resume, cover page, or career counsel you unless you are a potential candidate for a role they are contracted on.  Therefore, many people feel they have been ghosted by their Head Hunter, because the Recruiter grabbed some basic information from them, updated their staffing firm’s database and then it went nowhere. If you are looking for someone to prepare a professional resume, cover letter, or anything else find someone who offers that as a service don’t expect it from your Recruiter. 

Another big point is Recruiters may use your profile to attract new clients. It’s not uncommon, nor is necessarily bad for the candidate they are doing it with. But because the staffing industry is full of bad Recruiters many will “shotgun” out your information in a way that can hurt your candidacy. Your first impression may come from a bad Recruiter. Make sure they are not sending your resume to anyone without your permission.

If they are sending it to someone, they are not contracted with make sure they send a redacted resume to avoid contractual issues. If they are not successful at getting you into the organization, you should apply directly or reach out to an internal contact. But, make sure to give the recruiter enough time with their approach. A good recruiter will get you in front of opportunities and people that you will rarely get from throwing your resume in the candidate application stack.

You can also bet that how Recruiters are communicating to you; How responsive they are and how professional you perceive them is often correlated to what their client companies experience. Remember they are representing you, if you don’t like their approach you can end the relationship. Knowing the process up front can help you avoid situations

Your relationship with a Head Hunter, or Recruiter in general should be collaborative. Our job is to give you and the employer as much information as possible to make an informed decision. Good Recruiters know that trying to force something that isn’t meant to be is a waste for everyone involved. Good Recruiters know a collaborative and consultative relationship will lead to plenty of business over sloppy quick money.

Reach out to with any questions or concerns you may have.