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Let down by a recruiter? Here's how to find a good one

Frustrated

It sounds easy to be a recruiter. Everyone needs a job. All companies need to hire, once in a while if not always. Human resource is important to most organizations. It looks like opportunities are always there for recruiters.

Except they’re not.

Let’s face it: recruitment is a sales job. Most recruiters are on performance-related salaries and their jobs are highly KPI-driven (read: micromanaged).

Just like in most other industries, not everybody works with a lot of integrity and professionalism under such circumstances. There are many stories of candidates having bad experiences as a result, turning them away from finding or listening to recruiters again.

Looking at the other side, however, it also means recruiters can be good in some way. They care more about whether you get placed. They are usually more willing to reveal the information they have about a job (in-house HR simply cannot tell you some of the information e.g. age and gender preference or the reputation of the line manager). They sometimes have access to opportunities that you cannot access, especially senior and/or overseas positions.

Also, contrary to what most people believe, recruiters have no incentive to drive your salary down (yes it can be easier for recruiters to sell if you ask for less money, but if it is within the budget then it makes no sense for recruiters to deliberately sell you low, particularly if they are on a % of your salary as commission).

Therefore, the logical conclusion is not to generalise recruiters – some cannot help but some can. The key is to know who the good ones are.

Tips to identify a good recruiter

1. Good recruiters tell you the details of a job

We always do private searches. It is common you don’t know the company’s name until certain conditions are met, e.g. a face-to-face interview is done. It is also certain that you won’t find specific company information on a job advertisement posted by a recruiter.

It doesn’t mean you won’t know about the job details at all. Company nature, background, culture, job duties, functions… are all disclosable without the company name.

The question is whether the recruiter has the job, or any job, in hand. For a recruiter to be helpful, he/she should have a job for you at the very least, otherwise the meeting is for his/her KPI or data collection purposes only i.e. a waste of time for you.

Ask for details! The recruiter should have at least something to reveal if he is for real.

2. Good recruiters send you to specific jobs

Good recruiters can name the jobs that they are about to put you forward for and limit the sending there. Some recruiters “broadcast” your CV and that is not a good thing to do. Don’t ask me why, but some recruiters actually do that.

You might think it is better you have more opportunities.

Well, yes and no. This is only good when you are well informed about the opportunities. Sending your CV to companies you don’t like or know nothing about is a waste of time to all parties concerned. More importantly, it may have unexpected adverse effects.

Think: you are still in your current job, you don’t want people to know you’re looking for a move, yet somehow all 20 companies around you all got your CV applying for a job. Don’t be afraid to tell your recruiter to limit sending your CV to specific jobs – if you find it’s still broadcast, it’s best to cut ties and find someone else.

3. Good recruiters keep in touch with you after a placement

Sounds common, but really it is not. Like I said, recruiting is a sales job. Hit and run is common for salespeople. If you have a recruiter who is willing to keep in touch with you regularly, treasure them. They will help you find a suitable job, keep you in it, communicate with your HR or line manager in case it’s hard for you to do so, and bring you to another good new opportunity after around two years.

The last bit is so important – it is perhaps the most common way to get a pay rise in Hong Kong nowadays.

Always remember you have the right to say “no” to a recruiter, which means you have no cost in trying. Good recruiters are around and, when you find the right one, they can help you a big deal.

Team Vanna

Vanna's expert writing team

6 min read

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