How To Pick an Executive Recruiter


The recruitment industry can often be perceived in the wrong light, largely down to negative experiences gained through working with recruiters who don’t deliver, or those who demonstrate a poor candidate or client experience. This is often brought up in initial conversations with consultants at CSG Talent, when candidates are hesitant to engage with a recruiter for their job search.  

As a candidate, there’s little more frustrating than knowing you’ve wasted time on the wrong recruiter. You invested time and effort in telling someone about your experience, your career aspirations, and what you are looking for in your next role, only to be matched with completely irrelevant roles or never to be spoken to again. It’s important then to know that the ones you speak to have your best interests at heart and will strive to source you the best job opportunity with a company you feel aligned to and that lives up to as many, if not all of your motivations and preferences.  

If we know one thing at CSG Talentit’s what makes a good recruiter; our teams are top-performing for that very reason. To help you in your job search, we’ve put together a checklist of what to look for when you’re deciding who to work with when making the next step in your career: 

1. Find a specialist recruiter who will deliver 

The first, blindingly obvious trait of a bad recruiter is someone who asks “tell me about you and your current situation” and leaves it at that. Even worse, someone who approaches you with a role that ‘you will be perfect for’ without even hearing what you have to say first. 

To gain a true understanding of what you’re looking for in a new role – and what you can bring to an employer – good recruiters will delve deeper. What experience are you looking to gain from your next position? What business culture are you looking for? What are your main strengths? They will want to know what stage you’re at currently, as well as where you want to be in 2, 5, 10 years’ time. They will want to know your long-term goals so that they can align your next career move with them. 

Good recruiters won’t just ask you set questions, they’ll also use your responses as prompts for more. What you say will help them to formulate more specific questions, to gain a more detailed understanding of your experience and put together a thorough profile of you as an individual. These won’t be just technical questions such as industry qualifications and projects you’ve managed either, but also personal. They know that success in a new role extends beyond daily tasks and also into how you align with your employer and fit into the culture. 

2. Make sure they have a good knowledge and an expert othe industry you work within 

It quickly becomes apparent whether the recruiter you’re working with actually knows what they’re talking about or they’re just reading off a checklist. Industry knowledge is hugely important. You want to work with someone who understands all of the nuances of your role so that they can match you to positions of the appropriate skill level. Not only that, you want someone who can gauge a true understanding of the value you can add to a company, so that they can convey that to potential employers. 

When a recruiter knows their industry, they’ll know the businesses within it and which organisations you will suit the most. They’ll have the best chance of getting you placed there too; a recruiter well established in their field will possess a strong network of business contacts. That also means they’ll have their finger on the pulse of new and emerging opportunities. 

Finally, perhaps the biggest advantage of a knowledgeable recruiter is that any questions you have – role or company, technical or otherwise – can be answered. Having detailed discussions about a role prior to the interview process will mean no time is wasted as you’ll know quickly whether or not the role is right for you. That way, when you meet the employer, you can spend that time asking more important questions. 

3. Look for a Recruiter who will give honest feedback and advice 

Recruiters aren’t simply there to point you to a job and leave the rest up to you; a good, well-rounded recruiter will use their knowledge of both the client and the industry to guide you through the process, to give you the best possible chance of success. 

A big part of this is giving honest feedback. If your CV doesn’t represent you in the best light, you want to know. If your potential interview answer is too short or too long winded, an outside perspective can make all the difference. Working with a recruiter who will tell you what needs work can give you that winning edge. 

They’ll also be able to adjust your expectations, knowing what salary and package is realistic and what is not. 

4. Be Sure That They See Your Potential 

The best recruiters will double as your career mentors, pushing you on to go for the roles you wouldn’t have otherwise. They’ll help you through the process: role plays, advice about the client, presentation tips, the lot. They will be able to see your potential and make sure you’re fulfilling it, even if that means going outside of your comfort zone. 

By effectively representing you good recruiters will show the client that you are worth investing in. That means working hard on negotiations for you, getting the best possible deal for both parties. 

5. Look for a recruiter who has a great balance with communications 

Perhaps the best trait of a good recruiter is a respect for personal space. They will keep you updated throughout the process of course, but they will appreciate that you may not be able to come to an immediate decision; they will give you the time and distance needed to mull it over. 

At the same time, they will always be there for a chat when you need, to answer further questions about the client and the role, talk you through the process and provide advice on actions or development areas to work on. 

If you follow our guide and stick to these qualifiers, it will allow you to establish who the best recruiter is to support with your job search and ongoing career development. 

Above all else, a good recruiter will go the extra mile. Whether that’s the extra phone call to keep you in the loop or a face-to-face meeting to prep you for interview, they will forge a relationship to last the long run. Someone knowledgeable about your field and who has followed your whole career journey can double as your mentor, your sounding board for promotions and for future opportunities, there to work on your behalf whenever you need. Not every recruiter is in it solely for the fee, you just need to give them the chance to show that. 

CSG Talent work exclusively at senior level with clients worldwide, across seven distinct practice areas. Our success is grounded in our staff: recruiters with specialist knowledge of their industries, who care for their candidates and who perform the leg work needed to land them those niche, dream roles. 

If you’re a candidate who would benefit from our candidate services – whether that be searching for a new role or simply some career advice – please don’t hesitate tget in touch, or view our current vacancies.