Deeper Dive - How to Work with Agency Recruiters

finding a job job search strategies recruiters Jul 02, 2023
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Ever had something like this show up in your inbox?

“I’ve got the perfect role for you! Competitive pay, amazing culture! Please send me your resume and salary requirements so I can submit you as a candidate.”


Throughout my career, I have gotten a bazillion emails, calls, and LinkedIn DMS like this. Most of them have come from agency recruiters, with the occasional corporate recruiter in the mix. (You can learn more about these roles in my article about demystifying coaching and recruiting roles.)

 Anyway. I’ve worked extensively with agency recruiters over the years – as a contractor candidate, a direct-hire candidate, a referrer, and now as a consulting partner. 

*heart* great agency recruiters. 

Heck, I even thought about BECOMING an agency recruiter at one point.

Over time, though, I’ve learned that many of my clients are confused and fearful about working with agency recruiters.

They DO NOT *heart* agency recruiters.

Many of them find agency recruiters sort of icky. 

It’s not unexpected that they would feel that way.

Why? Sometimes the email about the “perfect” role is for something they did 10 years ago, and the pay range is tens of thousands less than they are worth in the market today.

I don’t want you to hate working with agency recruiters, though.

Instead, I’d rather equip you to see them as a valuable tool in your job search and career development by helping you to better understand agency recruiters and their goals.

Here's what we'll learn about in this article.

  • Why Companies Hire Agency Recruiters
  • Motivations of the Agency Recruiter 
  • The Agency Recruiter’s Work Environment
  • How to Work Effectively with an Agency Recruiter

Why Companies Hire Agency Recruiters

We’ve all heard that companies may get hundreds of applicants per job posting – many of whom are not remotely qualified – that their corporate recruiting team then needs to sift through, screen, and narrow down to a handful of candidates for the hiring manager to interview.

Enter the agency recruiter.  Agency recruiters source, screen, and provide a small handful of finalists to the company after sorting through an inundation of resumes. Outsourcing this work is a HUGE benefit to companies AND candidates because it speeds up the hiring process.

Motivations of the Agency Recruiter 

Agency recruiters are highly motivated to find candidates that meet their client’s requirements for skills, experience, and ability to mesh with the team.  


Because agency recruiters get paid when they place candidates. 

No placements, no commissions. 

And since agency recruiters like to eat and live indoors, just like you and me, those commissions are critical. 

Great agency recruiters use a combination of people they already have strong relationships with and new candidates they discover via LinkedIn or other networking platforms to curate a set of candidates.  

Agency recruiters who have been in the business for decades typically have deep networks they can tap. Newer agency recruiters do more cold-calling and cold emailing until they have built up the proverbial Rolodex. 

Agency Recruiter’s Work Environment

There are many different ways that agency recruiters work – some are independent solopreneurs, some work for large national companies, and others are part of small boutique firms. 

There are a couple of things all agency recruiters face, though.

  • Expectation to hit metrics. Every firm has different metrics that recruiters are required to meet. Many agencies require their recruiters to make a certain number of outreach calls per day or week or face disciplinary action. (Those are the firms most likely to email you about the “perfect role” that is for work you haven’t done for 10 years.) One firm I have worked with extensively measures a single metric for its recruiters – how many candidates you submitted to clients – and lets each recruiter figure out the best way to meet their target.
  • Most of the process is out of their control. You know how nervous you get waiting to hear back about an offer? The recruiter is JUST as anxious. Why? Because any number of things can hold up the process – ranging from hiring managers being slow with decisions, to companies suddenly deciding they don’t want to use an agency so they can save money, to the role suddenly being placed on hold. 
  • Clients often don’t know what they want. Yup, you read that right – clients will decide to open jobs without knowing what they want. It’s tough to source the perfect candidate when the client is confused! The best agency recruiters work hard to ensure that the clients seek the type of role and candidate they actually need. Still, some clients resist going through this process, which wastes everyone’s time.

How to Work Effectively with Agency Recruiters

I could probably write a whole book on working with agency recruiters, but I’ll narrow it down to a few key things.

  •  Remember that agency recruiters are PEOPLE with challenging jobs. It’s hard AF to find the perfect human for a role that may be a moving target. They are trying to make a living, just like you.
  •  Don’t be afraid to connect with agency recruiters, especially on LinkedIn. I almost always accept connection requests from agency recruiters. Why? Because they know people. They can connect you to opportunities you wouldn’t expect. Sure, if they continually spam me with unsuitable roles or confuse LinkedIn with Tinder, I will block them. But other than that, I look at agency recruiters as a great resource.
  • Keep your profiles and resume up to date – especially on LinkedIn. I’ve worked in a zillion roles over the years – developer, tester, project manager, account manager, business analyst, coach, consultant, and more. When I keep my profiles updated with info about the roles, industry, company size, and geographical area I have worked in and am interested in, it attracts the right kind of opportunity.  
  • Build long-term relationships with a small handful of trusted agency recruiters. I have forged strong relationships with about 4-5 recruiters throughout my career. These are the people I have lunch with at least once a year and talk to on the phone to catch up every few months. As a result, I’ve landed full-time jobs, contract jobs, and consulting opportunities, and so have people I’ve referred to them.

Agency recruiters can be an excellent resource for your job search and career development. Don’t misuse this great tool or let it get rusty!

Are you ready to take a no-BS approach to find the right role with a straightforward career coach? Great! I encourage you to book an intro call with me. We’ll identify your needs and get to work.