It is a chilly Monday morning after a great weekend and now you’re back at your desk picking up where you left off on Friday. Time to look for something new.  You need a career not just a job.  Something with meaning.  For an employer that appreciates you and takes care of their employees.

OK, here we go. Post resume job board. Check. Network with colleagues. Check. Update LinkedIn. Check.  Peruse some online job postings. Now what happens?

Some recruiter from a staffing agency recruiter calls you. Chances are they have a job they want to pitch you….but wait, Hold On! Who are they? Do they understand why you  are looking or what you are looking for in a new job?

There are a lot of questions you should be asking before deciding to work with a staffing agency.

 5 Things to Know When Working with an Agency Recruiter

How did the recruiter contact you? First impressions matter and you can tell a lot by the recruiter’s initial approach.

  • Email or LinkedIn InMail: Was it well written? Did they use an email template or was the email personalized to you referencing where you work now or what you do? Are they just emailing you a job description or are they interested in talking to you so they can understand your situation? Be picky.
  • Phone: How is their introduction? Do they take the time to talk about their company and their specialization? Do they ask good open-ended questions about what type of position you are seeking? Style is important and so are listening skills. For example, it is a waste of your time to have them pitch you a job that is contract if you only want permanent.
  • Referral: Who referred them to you? If it is someone you respect that is a good sign. Hopefully the person that referred thought highly enough of this staffing agency to refer you.

What is their story? Does the agency specialize in certain disciplines? What are some of the differentiating factors?

  • You should really ask as many qualifying questions as possible to determine your comfort level. There are no right answers here. I wouldn’t assume that just because a recruiter has been in the business for less than a year that they are any less capable then someone who has been doing it for 10 years. The Recruiters Lounge writes about the different types of recruiters: Are You An Old School Or New School Recruiter?
  • Most importantly you should feel that the recruiter is providing you with some sort of value proposition as to why you should work with them versus any of the other hundreds of other staffing agencies out there.

What is their process prior to them submitting your resume to one of their clients? This is very important and will tell you a lot about them. Two key things to consider.

  • First, you want their pre-screen process to be thorough as it is best to work with picky recruiters. Why? Selective recruiters tend to be able to weed out the inappropriate jobs for you and are more successful at getting you an interview for a position for which you are truly a match. For technical positions they should understand technology enough to know what you do and exactly what type of positions are most appropriate for your background.
  • Second, if you send them your resume do they officially (written or verbally) ask for your consent to send your resume to a specific company for a specific position? If not it means they may be sending your resume to companies without your knowledge and submitting your resume to jobs to which you have already applied.

What you don’t hear or see up front my surprise you. How can you figure out the quality of their “back-end” services once you decide you want them to submit your resume to one of their clients? Here are some good questions to help vet this out:

  • When should I expect to hear back from you regarding feedback from your client? If I do get an interview, what is their interview process like?
  • Who is the Account Manager that works with the client? Do they work directly with the hiring manager, through Human Resources, or through a Vendor Management System (VMS)?
  • How long have you worked with the client? How many candidates have you placed there?
  • If you place me on a contract position do you offer benefits? 401K?
  • Who will I deal with after I start working for one of your clients? How often will they touch base with me to make sure everything is going okay?

Style! Ultimately you simply must feel comfortable with the Recruiter and their approach. If you feel they are pushy and don’t listen to you, chances are they are not the right fit to help you find your next career.

Written: November 2015