Finding The Right Recruiter For You: Part 1

How to go about finding the right recruiter for you.

Today we are going to address the issues of finding the right recruiter for you and how to deal effectively with them for your optimal results. On the face of it, this should be an extremely easy topic to address; however, it is much more complicated than you may think. I am going to objectively discuss the recruiting industry and how you can get the most from it for your recruiting needs.

Words To Know Before You Look For The Right Recruiter For You

First, we will cover a few definitions to best find the right recruiter for you. Our first definitions are candidate versus client. The candidate’s perspective (your perspective) is from the employee that is looking for a new position while the client’s perspective (as it relates to a recruiter) is the company that will be paying the fee of a successful hire. Second definition we must look at is “job order” or words like that. A job order is when a client asks one or more recruiters to find a specific candidate in a specific market doing a specific job (or holding a specific position). Notice the redundancy of the word specific. That was deliberate as that is what a job order is. It is a specific detailed ask of a client. Most recruiters will operate based on job orders. Next there are two more terms that are equally important for you to know as a candidate or a client. That is contingency versus non-contingency agreements. A contingency recruiter will only get paid if the client hires a candidate and they remain in their position for the terms of the agreement’s guaranteed period. A non-contingency or retained client will pay the recruiter up front a fee and they will owe a recruiting firm the total fee whether they place someone or not. Like an attorney on a retainer.

The Contingency Recruiter

With the above as background, how does this affect you, the candidate, in finding the right recruiter for you? If you find a recruiter that is a contingency recruiter, they will represent you if you are a perfect match for the job orders that they may have under contract. They will expose you to the most opportunities, whether they are exactly right for you or not as they get paid only if you take a position. Therefore, it is in everyone’s best interest to introduce you to as many firms that you may be a potential fit for. The contingency based firm will do their best to place you quickly. However, the likelihood that you build up a long-lasting recruiting relationship is not likely. Do not get me wrong, they will do everything within their scope to try to get you a position.

The Retained Recruiter

The retained recruiter is a hired “gun” for a firm, and it is their responsibility to show as many good candidates as possible that they can to their retained clients. With a retainer, a client is going to expect performance. Performance translates into interviewing as many candidates as feasible for them to pick the right one from the pool of candidates presented by the retained firm. Once the candidates are selected, the retained firm will do everything possible to get one of their candidates hired, which is what they were first hired to do. Now you may be wondering which one of these two is the right recruiter for you.

The Search For The Right Recruiter For You

How do you find the right recruiter to represent you? First, word of mouth is by far the best tool. Find someone that just made a move that used a recruiter and ask about their experience collaborating with that recruiter. From your point of view, it should not matter if the recruiting firm is contingency or retained, since they will both present the qualified candidate accordingly. If you are unable to locate someone that collaborated with a recruiter in your industry, then start a google search for a recruiter within your area of expertise. Call them and interview them. Make sure they are a specialist in your field. Do not go to a generalist because they will not have the contacts that you need. This is the beginning of your process in finding the right recruiter for you. 

What’s Next? 

Now that you know the different types of recruiters, you have become a smarter and more informed candidate to find the right recruiter for you. I have no problem if anyone asks me how I get compensated as a recruiter. I share that I am a hybrid between the two as I have exclusive relationships, but I do not get a fee unless I place someone. Also, I choose to only introduce a candidate to one firm at a time. Which means if the first meeting goes well, the candidate is not introduced to a new firm simply for me to fill my pipeline and increase my chances of a placement. Next week we will continue to discuss how you best select a recruiter. I will offer specific questions to ask for you to choose the best one to work with.


If you would like to discuss your options, please reach out for a confidential conversation at 760-477-1284 or email at [email protected]. He can also be reached on LinkedIn. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter here, which is a compilation of our weekly blogs, so you never miss one. You can find our listing in the “supplier and services” section of the Red Book under the title of “executive recruiting”.

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all levels Public Finance Bankers, Healthcare Bankers, Municipal Advisors, Compliance Officers, Issuers, and Bond Counsels.