How Many Recruiters Should I Work With?

I appreciate everyone’s enthusiastic response to the idea I posted last week. For those of you that missed it, my idea was to take all of the questions I get and post them as articles. I realized that people have started to ask me the same questions, and it occurred to me that a lot of people have legitimate questions about how contingency recruiters work, and about the recruiting process. My idea was to solicit questions and I can pick one to answer and post on a weekly basis. This doesn’t mean you can’t ask me questions directly, whenever you want…you can continue to do that and I always to my best to help out. I just figured this might be a good way to spread the word about the external recruiting process…how it should work and how some recruiters abuse the process. Over the years I have seen too many candidates disillusioned with recruiters, and rightly so. So if you ever wondered why a recruiter did something specific, just ask! I’ll do my best to give an educated guess as to why they did that.

Thanks to everyone that sent in questions this week. There were a good amount of responses and everyone had valid questions, which I hope to get to in due time. I felt this question was a good starting point for this Recruiting Q&A I want to run, bc its basically the start of working with a recruiter…how many should you work with?

I’ve usually told candidates that 1-3 recruiters should suffice, as long as everyone brings something different to the table. It wouldn’t make sense to have 2 or 3 cooks in the kitchen if they are all making the same omelet. Its your job search, and you have a responsibility to yourself to put yourself in the best possibly position to land the job you are looking for. That being said, its not a numbers game…some might think “why limit myself to 1-3 recruiters? If I work with 10 recruiters I’ll find a job easier/faster, right? Law of averages and whatnot!” Sadly, that might be the case if all recruiters were ethical and/or competent.

If you literally got 10 recruiters in a room, and they were honest and they all brought something to the table that would assist your job search in a different way, then yes, odds are you would find a job quicker. BUT, not all recruiters work the same way…and neither do their firms. I can’t tell you how many times over the last 2 or 3 years that after spending a lot of time with a candidate, fully vetting them for my client, and really gauging the candidate’s interest in the firm, I then go to the Partner I am working with who is just thrilled with this candidate…only to get a call in a day or so that some recruiter, unbeknownst to the candidate, shot the resume to HR sometime within the past year where its been sitting in a file, and rather than argue over fees and representation, the firm just decides to move on. So imagine this happening 10 times with your resume. This past week I sent a candidate to a firm, only to find out that the resume has been sent to the firm 8 times in the last 3 months. The candidate didn’t know at all!  And you might even really trust your recruiter…and your recruiter might actually be ethical. BUT the 10 other recruiters in his group might just see your resume in the database and just shoot it off without EITHER of you knowing.

Circling back to my suggestion, I really do feel that 1-3 recruiters is a good setup for a job search. Start with one, talk to them, and see what they have to offer. How they would go about assisting your job search. If you like them and they have a good amount of options, stick with them. But if their options are limited, talk to another recruiter. If you are serious about making a move and know what you want, make sure you have options. Again, if you feel one recruiter has everything covered for you, great! You can feel in control of your job search. I personally feel that the more people that are involved, the amount of control that you give up can really come back to hurt you in the end…it would be a real shame if you were perfect for an opportunity only to have it not work out because of something out of your control.

Feel free to post any comments or questions below. I hope to make this a regular weekly feature, so please feel free to message me or email me ( any recruiting/recruiter questions you may have. And please feel free to check out my website for more information on me and full job descriptions of active searches I am running.

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