How to Get the Most Out of Working With a Recruiter

Female recruiter woking with a female hiring manager meeting in an office sitting across from each other mid conversation

Working with a recruiter or headhunter can be a rewarding and beneficial process — they can be a tremendous resource for your company. In addition to having the knowledge and expertise for delivering top talent, an experienced and reliable staffing agency will have a clear understanding of what to look for (and avoid) when screening and placing candidates.

Types of Recruiters

  • Reactive — Working with a job recruiter who operates in a reactive manner ensures that your positions will be posted indiscriminately on various job boards. This type of recruiter limits themselves to a pool of random (and often unqualified) applicants who apply, rather than taking a strategic and targeted approach to recruitment.
  • Proactive — This recruiter uses sales techniques to target and attract higher-quality candidates. While more successful than reactive recruiters overall, these professionals are still missing out on crucial recruiting and placement opportunities.
  • Interactive — This interactive recruiter focuses on building relationships with top-performing talent — including passive candidates who are not actively looking for a new job. They also know how to showcase your brand to attract the best candidates.

As a professional recruiting and staffing agency, we work with various small and large employers across nearly every industry. As such, we would like to share some of the ways small business owners, HR teams, and managers can get the most from their experience when working with a job recruiter.

Is Working With a Recruiter Worth It?

Whether it’s “worth it” to work with a recruiter will depend on many factors, including your company’s size, budget, hiring needs, growth plans, and internal capabilities. 

There are many circumstances where a company’s staffing requirements extend beyond its current hiring abilities, like during periods of rapid growth or when specialized technical expertise is required. In these situations, a recruiter can help the organization maintain smooth operations while avoiding sloppy, inaccurate hiring. 

Working with a recruiter is an investment, but in many cases, it can save companies money in the long run. Since recruiters specialize in hiring, they can often do so with greater accuracy and speed than an internal team member who’s juggling other responsibilities on top of talent acquisition. This minimizes the costs associated with poor hires and extended vacancies. Recruiters may also be able to help companies save on marketing costs, like advertising and job board subscription fees since these are rolled into a recruiting contract. 

To determine whether working with a recruiter is practical, each company should weigh the costs against the potential benefits, which we’ll cover next.

Reasons to Work With a Recruiter

Talent access

Good recruiters have extensive professional networks and well-established databases of qualified candidates. This can provide companies with access to a broader and more diverse talent pool than they might reach through traditional hiring methods or their own networks.

Time savings

When you work with a recruiter, you can offload many time-consuming hiring tasks like screening a large volume of applications and scheduling interviews. This allows you to focus more time on activities that drive business, like customer service and market research, or activities that strengthen your workforce, like employee development. 

Specialized expertise

Recruiters who specialize in specific industries or job functions bring valuable insights and expertise to the hiring process. This is useful when hiring in niche fields like IT and healthcare. They also bring an understanding of market trends and salary expectations, which can be beneficial during negotiations. 


In situations where you need to conduct a confidential search, like hiring an executive, recruiters can provide a level of discretion and confidentiality that may be challenging for the company to maintain on its own.

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Connect with our recruiters today.

Tips for How to Work With Recruiters Effectively

Knowing how to effectively work with recruiters and headhunters is essential to becoming more comfortable and familiar with the process. Answering the question “how does a recruiter work?” will help prepare you for this process.

Related: How Does An Employment Agency Work?

Here are a few key things to keep in mind to make the most of your time and money when working with a recruiter from a third-party firm:

Be transparent

Professional recruiters screen and place candidates based on both their market knowledge and the criteria you provide — the more specific the information, the better your results.

Recruiters work most effectively when they have a clear understanding of your goals and expectations. Some of the specific types of information your recruiter will need to know when screening individual candidates include:

  • Values, beliefs, and mindset — Do each candidate’s traits align with those of your organization?
  • Skills — Do they possess the skills you need for the role?
  • Knowledge — Do they have the knowledge needed for the position?
  • Experience — Do they have experience in your industry or a similar role?
  • Expertise — Experience isn’t enough; do they have the expertise required to meet the rigorous needs of the position?

Be responsive

The best “working with a recruiter etiquette” advice we can offer is to respond promptly to emails and phone calls from your recruiter. One of the most frustrating scenarios as a professional recruiter is working with a client who is unresponsive or inaccessible.

The recruiting and hiring process must move quickly to keep the best-qualified talent from being snatched up by a competitor. Being responsive to your recruiter:

  • Shortens the hiring process (saving you both time and money);
  • Leaves candidates with a positive impression of your company or brand; and
  • Helps to make your company more productive by placing the best people in the right positions.

Trust their expertise

As with any professional partnership, trust is an integral component of working with a recruiter. Not only is it important to trust the relationship you have with your external recruiter, but you also should be able to rely on their expertise. A reliable and experienced professional recruiter invests countless hours developing and nurturing relationships with their large pool of active candidates as well as their network of passive candidates.

If you do not feel like you can trust your recruiter to put the needs of your company first, or that they can’t competently screen and place candidates, then it’s time to find a new recruiter.

Find the right recruiter

Sourcing the best talent with the right values, mindset, knowledge, and skills is a challenge on its own. Trying to find them at the right time makes the process even more complicated. This is where working with a specialized recruiter — someone with experience hiring for roles in your niche field or industry — can be highly beneficial.

Partnering with a professional recruiting and staffing agency with specialized experience adds a higher level of structure to the recruitment process. This is because they are more likely to have:

  • An in-depth understanding of your market and industry trends concerning talent;
  • Access to an extensive network of candidates; and
  • Relationships with passive candidates who are experts in your field.

Build a long-term relationship

The more time you spend working with a job recruiter or headhunter who demonstrates extensive experience and expertise, the more they will get to know your company. The better the recruiter knows you, the more they can help sell your company and make it stand out to candidates in a competitive job market.

Ultimately, the job of a professional staffing agency is to act as an extension of your company while attracting and screening the best talent. Regardless of the size of your business, working with a recruiter who is the right fit for your business can help you attract and hire the best talent in a tight job market.

Focus on integrity 

There is something to be said about integrity in recruiting — not only concerning the conduct of job seekers or employers, but how the professional recruiters they work with operate as well. No one likes to be lied to, which is why honesty is important in every type of relationship (including professional ones).

When all sides value honesty and are truthful throughout the recruiting process, everybody wins:

  • Employers land their ideal candidates,
  • Applicants get the jobs they desire, and
  • Recruiters keep their clients and candidates happy.

Honesty is the best policy 

Although it may be tempting to gloss over undesirable aspects of your openings, like a challenging company culture or a below-market salary, being evasive with a recruiter will only hurt your results in the long run. A recruiter needs to know what they’re working with so they can match you with the correct candidates from the start. Avoid wasting anyone’s time by having a frank discussion about your hiring needs–the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

Set clear expectations 

The more upfront you are throughout the recruiting process, the more effective your headhunter can be in finding you the best candidates. If you’re vague about the skills, expertise, and other factors you’re seeking, or if you say you want quality A when you’re really looking for quality B, you’ll be less likely to get the ideal applicants you want.

Be honest about your organizational culture:

  • Is it very hierarchical in nature?
  • Does your organization promote specific values?
  • Is your organization more laid back or is it a stricter and more professional environment?

Being open about these factors will help to attract the right candidates and eliminate ones who may not be the right fit. This saves time while leaving applicants with a positive impression of your organization.

Establish benchmarks

As the relationship kicks off, one of the things you should discuss with your recruiter is how success will be measured. Work together to establish KPIs for important metrics like time to hire and new hire retention rate. Then, set regular check-ins to assess progress toward these KPIs and address any aspects of your hiring strategy that need improvement. 

Provide–and receive–constructive feedback

Recruiting relationships often go sideways when company leaders believe they know it all. However, the best recruiting arrangements are those that function as a true partnership. To establish a partnership, each party must feel their expectations are being met. During your regular check-ins with your recruiting team, share constructive feedback and ask for it in return. This allows you to continuously strengthen your relationship and the processes used to attract great talent.

Don’t wait to make a move 

Our last piece of advice for employers is this: If you like a candidate and think they are a good fit for your position and organization, do not wait. As a recruiting firm, we’ve seen this happen a lot — a client loves a candidate after interviewing them but delays on making an offer because they want to interview other candidates for comparison. 

Good candidates are hard to find, so do not wait! In the end, it may mean you will lose the candidate you should’ve hired in the first place. In other words, don’t be afraid to commit when you find the right person to hire — even if it’s the first one you interview.

Work With a Recruiter That’s The Right Fit For Your Company

Don’t hire just any recruiting and staffing firm — make sure you’re working with a job recruiter who is the right fit for your business. We are a nationally renowned staffing agency that works with businesses around the United States.

We hope this information helps you get the most out of working with a professional recruiter to help you meet all of your company’s staffing and hiring needs. Contact our team of experts today to learn more about working with a professional recruiting and staffing agency.

Pete Newsome

About Pete Newsome

Pete Newsome is the President of 4 Corner Resources, the staffing and recruiting firm he founded in 2005. 4 Corner is a member of the American Staffing Association and TechServe Alliance, and the top-rated staffing company in Central Florida. Recent awards and recognition include being named to Forbes’ Best Recruiting Firms in America, The Seminole 100, and The Golden 100. Pete also founded zengig, to offer comprehensive career advice, tools, and resources for students and professionals. He hosts two podcasts, Hire Calling and Finding Career Zen, and is blazing new trails in recruitment marketing with the latest artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Connect with Pete on LinkedIn