how to find a good recruiter

How To Find a Good Recruiter

Last week, a Twitter friend asked me, “How do I find a recruiter?” 

I’ve been pondering her question since then. It’s a good one because the right recruiter working for a quality company can accelerate your job search and lift your career a notch or two.

Good Recruiters Work for Companies Where You Want to Work

The best way to find a good recruiter is to target the companies you want to work for (or the recruiting firms you want to work with) and reach out to establish relationships with their recruiters.

You can find most company and third-party recruiters via LinkedIn.

How Do I Find a Recruiter on LinkedIn?

If you’re asking that question, do this:

  1. Go to the LinkedIn People search box here.
  2. Then, look to the right for “All filters.”
  3. Click “All filters” and scroll down to “Keywords.”
  4. Enter one “Title” at a time from the list below.
  5. Still in “Keywords,” add a “Company” name to the right of “Title.”
  6. Hit return.
  7. If you want, narrow your results with more filters.

The Most Common Keywords in Recruiters’ LinkedIn Job Titles

To speed up your searches, I put together this list of the 10 most common recruiter job titles and job title keywords:

Recruiter Job Titles

The results above come from current title search results since job seekers want to find people who recruit now, not in the past.

Your mileage may vary. LinkedIn’s search results can be fickle from one day to the next. Even so, it’s easy to see which words will get you the most hits and the more refined hits.

How to Reach Out

After you find recruiters of interest, send them a note like this:

Hi Amit,

I understand you’re the Finance Talent Acquisition Specialist at Red Bull.

I’m a degreed accountant who played a crucial role in reducing my company’s month-end close from 12 to 4 working days. Yes, we used a little Red Bull to help us get there!

I love your company’s products and want to be on your radar the next time you’re searching for someone like me.

Thanks in advance,


Be sure to:

  1. Tell the recruiter what you do.
  2. Describe the type of job that interests you.
  3. Give a quick example of a compelling accomplishment.
  4. Mention something positive about their company.
  5. Ask them to keep you in mind for future openings.

BTW, don’t ignore offshore recruiters because a 2015 Korn Ferry study found that 40% of U.S. companies offshore some or all of their recruiting.

Thus, if someone says they recruit for a particular company, don’t let their location prevent you from contacting them.

What If Your Target Companies Don’t Have Recruiters?

What if the company is too small to have an HR function or recruiters?

In that case, use LinkedIn to figure out who your hiring manager would be and reach out to connect with them.

What If They Aren’t Active on LinkedIn?

Then send them the note above via email or make a phone call.

Why Internal Connections Matter

If you make an internal connection before the company posts your dream job, and you’re a fit, there’s a good chance they will contact you early in their search.

That gets you into the first round of consideration, which is the best place to be. If they find their dream candidate in the first round, they’re done. Thus, you might eliminate some or all of your competition by getting in early!

How Do I Find Good External Recruiters That Work with My Companies of Interest?

Now, what about finding external recruiters?

In the case above, our hypothetical accountant can find good outside recruiters by using the process already described and by reaching out to:

  1. Former colleagues
  2. Classmates
  3. Outside auditors
  4. Other external recruiters (they know who recruits for whom)

Beyond that, you will find a list of the top 250 recruiting firms here and a list of the top 50 executive search firms here.

Niche Recruiters

The big firms are great, but it’s important to understand that one recruiter can’t handle very many clients. That’s why there are so many of them.

While large firms can be very helpful, you also want to know the niche players important to you.

Thus, be sure to look for recruiters who work:

  1. With your target companies
  2. In your industry and micro-industry
  3. With people who have your particular skillset

Long-Term Relationships with Outside Recruiters

Know that it’s never too early to start building recruiter relationships.

Smart careerists find and stay connected with recruiters over the long-term. They’re great resources when it’s time to find a job.

However, as emphasized above, people can also make their luck with direct outreach to potential employers.

Vet External Recruiters

BTW, finding an external recruiter is one thing; vetting them is another. Working with a recruiting firm can be a pleasure or a nightmare.

Here are some steps you can take to vet recruiters:

  1. Try to work with people with at least 2 years of experience.
  2. Ask if they’re on a contingent-fee (commission) or retained (consulting).
  3. Contingent-fee recruiters might be mainly motivated by their commission.
  4. Check the recruiter out with people you both know.

Be especially skeptical of anyone who wants you to pay them money to find you a job. Regardless of what they might claim, those people are not recruiters.

Let’s Connect on LinkedIn

Please invite me to connect on LinkedIn here. The more I know about my readers, the better I can make my blog.

Image: chathuporn
Updated December 2021

© 2015 – 2021, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.

Comments 3

  1. We are now in a world that is candidate rich and employers are doing all they can to cut hiring costs.

    Unless a recruiter is valued and has influence with hiring managers, my experience is that you are better off backing yourself and applying directly to organisations that you would like to work for.

    It shows initiative and organisational skills and importantly often means that you do not have to ascertain what a recruiters true motives are.

  2. Craig,

    I agree. It’s always best to try to get referred in by an employee or someone who knows an employee.

    Thank you,


  3. Donna, the list of job titles of recruiters is very helpful. I think most job seekers only know the term “recruiter”. This will broaden the list of recruiters they are able to find.

    And, one job title I don’t think many executives think of is: “Executive Search Consultant”, and yet I believe many executive-level recruiters have this title. This will help executive job seekers.

    The lists of external recruiters are very valuable to job seekers! I’m glad you included them here; especially because when a job seeker is doing a confidential search, they may not be able to reach out to their colleagues or classmates for leads to recruiters.

    I would add “Former vendors and customers” to the list of people who may help you find a quality recruiter.

    Here’s a small tip: if the job seeker is in a confidential job search, they can do a search the term “recruiter” on the contacts of colleagues and classmates.

    I am going to add a link to this wonderful resource to our Job Search Coaching resources webpage immediately! Thank you! I’m always so happy to be able to give quality resources to our clients (and many of the high-quality resources we have came from you).

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