Find the Right Niche Recruiter For Your Job Search

Find the Right Niche Recruiter For Your Job Search

Job hunting?  If you are, you’re loving the recent U.S. employment numbers.  As business confidence grows, more new jobs are being added.  Unemployment rates continue to fall.  And even if you hadn’t planned a job search this year, you may be getting emails, InMails and calls from recruiters pitching open positions to you.

If you’re contemplating a job search, one of the first questions you should ask yourself is this:  do I need a recruiter?  Here’s my answer: in most cases, yes, you probably do.  As you grow in your career and begin eyeing positions of increased responsibility (and, often, higher compensation), you should know that many of the best opportunities will never show up on an online job board.  They may not even appear on the employer’s own career site.  Why?  Because often, employers assign their mid- and upper-level positions to executive recruiters.  Doing so saves them time, money and the hassle of sifting through mountains of applications and resumes.  More importantly, when employers hire experienced “niche” recruiters – those headhunters who specialize, either by industry or role – they’re not only taking advantage of that recruiter’s highly specialized expertise.  They’re gaining access to their deep industry relationships and extensive networks.

What does that mean to you?  It means that, unless you’re talking to a niche recruiter, you’re likely missing out on a lot of opportunities.

Even if you’re a master networker, yourself, who is well connected to the job pipelines in your field, why wouldn’t you want to expand your reach within your niche by partnering with a recruiter?  Great recruiters can also help you refine your own job search parameters, give you invaluable feedback on your resume and interviewing skills, and help you sort through your options at offer time.  But before you say yes to the first person who calls, be sure you take the time to choose a recruiter that specializes in your desired field.

Here are several different ways of locating the right niche recruiter for your search.

Look online for Jobs.

Established recruiters have up-to-date profiles on professional networking sites like, where a fairly simple search can help you zero in on an initial list in your area – both geographically and professionally.  To get started, try this this useful infographic I found on LinkedIn.  Whittle down your list by looking more closely at each recruiter’s recent placements. How is their track record?  Who is endorsing and recommending them?  Once you have a short list of finalists, check out their own websites.  What does their brand stand for?  What are their core values? How do they work with clients and candidates?  Make sure there is nothing glaringly incompatible with your needs and values.

Use your own network.

When professional people have a great experience with a headhunter, they talk about it.  When they have an awful experience with a headhunter, they talk about it more. Ask around.  Share the names you’ve gathered from your initial online search and get feedback.  And if you hear a name you hadn’t found on your own, check that person out, too.  

Read, watch and listen to industry news.

Top recruiters are often highly sought by business reporters and media.  Who’s getting quoted more often?  More importantly, what are they saying?  Do they strike you as credible?  Look them up, bounce their names off your network and add them to your list if they pass muster.

Reach out.

You’ve done your initial homework.  Now it’s time to take a closer look at your final few.  Reach out to recruiters who interest you.  Send them your resume, along with a brief cover letter outlining your strengths, successes, career aspirations and core values.  Ask for an interview, whether it’s face-to-face or via phone.  Note the response you get and how you feel about it.  Remember, this is the courtship phase.  If you don’t feel valued and respected now, it’s unlikely to get better later.  Ask specific questions about their experience, ability and interest in working with positions like the one you want.   Do they have any now?  If not, do they anticipate something in the near future?  How would like they to stay in touch?  Beware any slick presentations of multiple “amazing” positions.  Ask about their client lists and the frequency with which they handle positions that might fit you.  If nothing feels quite right, slow down and see how things unfold.  Don’t rush into anything.  If you’ve made contact with a great recruiter and they’ve told you they might have something in the future, they probably will.  And when that email comes in, you’ll be ready.