What makes a good recruiter?

10 mins

The IT industry has gradually transitioned recruitment towards external agencies over the la...

The IT industry has gradually transitioned recruitment towards external agencies over the last decade. This is due to the number of vacancies being far too many for internal functions to manage alone. From small companies with a minimal HR team who need someone to manage the whole process for them and grow the team, to larger corporate companies with tight deadlines who cannot afford to rely solely on the internal recruitment team.

With so many agencies competing for spots on a company's Preferred Suppliers List (known to some as a PSL) it can be hard to know which agencies are the best, based on their sales pitch - which at first is the only evidence a hiring manager or HR team has.

Different recruitment agencies will have their own benefits, from small start-ups to much larger firms and will also have their own unique ways of doing things that separate them from the competition. However, as a company who are looking to choose their best recruiter(s) - whether it be for the first time or for a review, there needs to be a comfort in knowing you have made the right choice. So the question is; how do you know you have picked the right agency?

I have prepared a detailed list of 5 attributes of a typically good recruiter. This is both for candidates and clients.

A Consultative and Professional approach

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As a hiring manager you may know what it is that you need the recruiter to look for, and you are able to inform about your organisation and the job role. However from time to time you may need some advice on certain things. This could be around market trends (i.e how many candidates are out there locally? What is the average market rate? What do they tend to want from a new role?) or it could be based around the interview process (i.e how many stages should we do to ensure we qualify a candidate without scaring them off? should we do a test?). A good recruiter will have a very consultative, informative and helpful approach to this, without being too much of a sales person. They will guide you through any questions you might have, and take it upon themselves to make you aware of any additional information you might need. This might be things that you may not want to but need to hear in order to understand how to fill the role efficiently.

From a candidate perspective this is the same. A recruiter will explain in detail everything about the role they are putting you forward for, and leave it up-to you. They will offer advice on anything you may need for any tests or interviews to make sure that you are 100% prepared.

A typically bad recruiter will not spend the extra time on consulting or prepping you for interviews, which may be down to the personality of that recruiter, but also might be a confidence issue.

Good Market knowledge/No spamming of irrelavent CV's

This goes out to candidates and hiring managers. It is important that the recruiter is very well trained on their specialist field. Otherwise what you may find is a recruiter will look for a few buzz words on a CV and chuck over as many candidates as possible, playing the numbers game. As a hiring manager, this will just waste your time having to read through candidates CV's who are not right, just in the hope that you might find a unicorn. Now as important as it is to give a candidate a chance to secure a position, speaking to a recruiter who does not have a clue what they are looking for a will not be a good use of your time as a candidate either.


Trust is a huge factor in building partnerships. If you are going to be paying money to a recruiter to fill a position for you, you want to make sure that you will get 100% honesty from them, rather than pure sales and a greedy mindset. As a hiring manager, a good recruiter will give you an honest insight to a candidate's background, what salary/rate they are looking for. They will also give you honesty in terms of what efforts you are making to vet candidates, what the market looks like, what areas you cover as a business etc.

A typically bad recruiter might send candidates at a higher salary than they actually asked for with the hope that if hired, their commission/billings will be higher.

As a candidate, a good recruiter will give you a full, descriptive and honest insight to the position(s) that they are discussing with you, and if you are not right for it they will tell you. They will also give you feedback from their client post interviews/CV reviews so you are never in the dark.


As a hiring manager, it is important to meet deadlines and often when a position is signed off - whether contract or permanent, you will need to get that perfect candidate onboard sooner rather than later. Whether this is a back-fill and you want to give the candidate handover time with the team member who is leaving, or the project is growing and you need additional resource.

In order to put your trust and commitment with a recruiter to help you fill a role, you need to know that they will be doing everything they can to get the role filled efficiently for you. This goes from vetting candidates, to booking in interviews and sending technical tests with all of the correct details.

A typically bad recruiter might be a bit lazy. For example, their lunch is at 1pm and you have requested at 12.55 for a candidate to be booked in this afternoon for a telephone interview. The recruiter decides to sort it out after lunch. When they get back it is too short notice for the candidate and both hiring manager and candidate miss out. A typically good recruiter would do what is necessary to get this booked in, from making phone calls, to sending invitations and emails with both client and candidate - and if necessary working through their lunch to do so.

Another example is a hiring manager calls in with an urgent job for the recruiter to fill at 5pm. A good recruiter will stay behind and work late in order to fill the role.

Attention to detail

When speccing out a position with a hiring manager it is important for a recruiter to not miss anything. This could be from working hours and flexibility (i.e remote work) to specific project details - for example the successful candidate might have to work with an end client. This is all in order to be able to paint a full picture to the candidate.

Typically good traits of a recruiter with attention to detail would be recruiters spending 20-30 minutes on the phone discussing the role with a hiring manager rather than just reading off a spec to candidates. They should also want to come down and visit the office, so they can describe it all to a candidate in detail.

A typically bad recruiter may not push attention to detail due to their bad time management or lazy approach. They may also not have the confidence in their own market knowledge to push detailed questions out to the hiring manager.

Of course there are plenty more factors to consider in addition to they above but I thought I would give you a flavour of what to look out for.

As always, if you have any questions or queries, please don’t hesitate to drop me a message as I will be more than happy to help!

Thanks for reading.