November 7, 2013 by Walter Colgan

Have you even been approached by a recruiter from a firm you have never heard of previously? It happens to most people who have skills and experience that are in demand in the job market.
Sometimes people may feel flattered that they’ve received a call from a recruiter. Sometimes, people may also feel annoyed because you’ve been interrupted from your work. Regardless of how you feel at the moment, the good news is that someone who knows of a job opportunity that may advance your career in a significant way just identified you as a potential candidate for a possible life changing event. I would always advise you to take the call and listen for a couple of minutes to see if the opportunity interests you.

After listening, you will want to ask three important questions of this recruiter to determine if you should spend your time learning more. These three questions will help you to quickly identify if this recruiter is going to potentially advance your career or just waste your time.

The first question to ask is how long this recruiter has actually been in the recruiting business. This is important to know because like any other career, the best recruiters have been in the business a long time and have vast experience that they can bring to bear for your candidacy. There is a lot of turnover in the recruiting business but the best recruiters have been at it for years.

The second question you should ask is their knowledge about the position. If the recruiter does not have deep knowledge about this job over and above what is in the job description that should raise a big red flag in the back of your mind that they do not know the job description behind the job description. What that means is that they probably have never spoken directly to the hiring manager and do not know exactly what that specific hiring manager thinks is the absolute best candidate for the job. Having first-hand knowledge directly from the hiring manager will always increase the odds of a recruiter bringing the best talent to the table for their client, will allow them to provide the best representation to their candidate, and it increases the odds of a successful placement.

Finally, the third question should always be to ask what the recruiter knows about the culture at the client they are representing. Every company has their own unique culture. If the recruiter tries to tap dance around that question it means they really do not have any strong relationships at this particular company and have probably never even visited their offices or personally met their clients. This lack of knowledge should alert you to the fact that this recruiter is not considered a valued adviser to this particular client and that should always be of concern you.

It is important to remember that as a candidate, it’s just as important for you to screen out potential recruiters who may do more harm than good to your career as it is for the recruiter to screen you to see if you are a potential fit for their client. Asking a few good questions will be the simplest and most effective way for you to perform your due diligence. To further discuss, feel free to reach out to me at

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