Confused by all the recruiters contacting you? Not sure who to trust?

Work Safe,Be Safe.
Work Safe,Be Safe.

Start by realising that as much as you’re a key component in the recruitment process, you don’t pay the bill. The recruiter exists due to fees paid by the employer and this can put you a lower pegging.

On the flip side, remember deep down that you’re their bread and butter. No introduction means no fee!

Sort the wheat from the chaff using some or all of the pointers below;


As with anything, a recommendation from a trusted source can go a long way. Be specific though, ask why they’re different and how they went above and beyond. Recruiters are many and one is often much the same as the last. What makes the recommended recruiter different? Do they add anything extra to the process?

Face to face

Do you want to meet your recruiter face to face? Is it necessary? Does the recruiter provide that facility? This all depends on the nature of your industry, safeguarding requirements and the types of role you’re going for.

Company Pedigree

Ask questions. Which companies do they usually work with? How many openings do they have in your line of work? How long have they been in business? Are they solvent?

Freedom of Information

Good relationships are built on trust.

If you’re confident enough applying directly you have a better chance of getting a job. However, if you’re talking to recruiters you probably haven’t got time to fully research the vacancies on your market.

This Catch 22 means that recruiters often won’t want to tell you who they’re recruiting for. Think of all the ads you see starting with ‘My Client…’ – this also serves to shield their business from competitor recruiters.

How open a recruiter is with you about who they’re recruiting for is a tell as to how strong their relationship is with their client. If they’re very protective then they don’t trust you and there are likely multiple recruiters working on the vacancy. You can infer something about the client and the vacancy from this too. You don’t want to work with ‘bums on seats’ or ‘smash and grab’ recruiters or clients.


There are pros to big and small much the same as any industry. You can argue that you’ll get more attention, less of a number service, from smaller consultancies but you can also access more vacancies and a bigger consultant base in a large company. Size of the business is less important than the individual you choose to work with and the good ones can work for either large or small consultancies.

The Individual

When possible, connect and reach out to a particular recruiter at a company rather than just emailing a generic address.

It’s a people driven business and good recruitment, like many industries, is built on the strength of those relationships. If they work well with you, they likely work well with those they’re recruiting for.

Terms & Conditions

You should never, ever pay a recruiter. You can sometimes pay to have your CV written but any recruiter should do this for free is they’re serious about working with you

Trade Bodies

Many agencies are part of governing bodies, the Recruitment Employment Confederation (REC) is one you may have heard of. It is worth noting that barriers of entry to being part of one of these are low and subscription led. They exist to provide support to recruiters and their logo for marketing purposes.

It is generally a good sign if a recruiter is a member of IRP or REC or similar but it also shouldn’t be a pre-requisite to who you work with.

Standard of Communication

Check over their email correspondence and job adverts.

On email, are they directed specifically towards you? Have they done any research before contacting you? Are they polite and do they aim to work with you how you want to be worked with? Pay attention to the frequency and whether they’re actually relevant or not. When a conversation has been initiated, are the replies consistently timely throughout the recruitment process. Do they follow up well with updates good and bad?

Check out their job ads; are they written with care and attention? If you click to view all of their ads, do they represent a specialist or generalist agency? Where do they advertise? If they’re not where you expect them to be, ask them why.

Spelling, punctuation and grammar! The odd typo is ok but if there is a pattern of consistent error it can be an indicator of poor attention to detail, high workload, poor development in this area or just lack of care. Do they use terminology and abbreviations appropriately? They’re representing you so these errors could reflect on you.

Market Knowledge

Look for a company that focuses on your industry or, even better, your skillset within your industry. This means that they are more likely to really understand your job, your work and your typical career path. Be wary of generalists operating across multiple sectors – imagine teaching every subject; would this give you time to be truly proficient at teaching one or a few focused subjects?

What’s in it for you?

Technology is affecting the recruitment industry along with everything else.   With information becoming increasingly available, recruiters have to do more to justify their fees. The majority are just about getting around to engaging you more perhaps by producing some relevant content, some offer CPD and others cash back for referrals (often laced with caveats – it’s an easy thing to offer as it doesn’t require up front investment). Who’s going further? Do you get loyalty points in return for contract hours? Are there meaningful resources on offer? What perks are on offer? Worth asking the question…


Respect yourself and others in the jobhunting process. Don’t roll over. Don’t de desperate. Be nice. Be honest. Work hard for it and hopefully others will for you too.

Next Steps

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There were no obstacles from the initial call I felt at ease Alex is very knowledgeable and helpful at drawing up of contracts and his support service is excellent.

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I would not hesitate working with Alex his support network is very reassuring.

Alex has an excellent network of experts who he can call upon to assist you in your chosen field. He understands your needs and values your opinions he fully understands you needs and expectations and his attention to detail is very impressive and reassuring.

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