"How Do I Recognize a Good Recruiter or Headhunting Firm? "
I'm going to give you the answer that you don't want to hear… But it is the truth.
The answer is you can't.
You can pickup a clue or 2 along the way but I think the issue is the disconnect between what you define as a good recruiter and what a client might define as a good recruiter.
To you, a good recruiter is someone who can find you a job. To a corporation, a good recruiter is someone who can fill a position, who has good discernment, who has the ability to understand a person's experience and ability. Who can understand with their particular corporate culture was like, save them time and deliver great potential new hires to them. The recruiter can't guarantee that the firm will actually hire someone from them, but they can't deliver good quality potential hires that make the decision difficult for an employer.
Let me go back to you, for example.
You want to hire someone who is a good recruiter or as a good headhunting firm. As a result, they have to have jobs that fit you. That basically translates into seeing what jobs that they have to fill in job hunters have a pretty loose idea of what fits their background. Judging by what I received in my inbox each day which tends to be hundred to 150 pieces of email that are little more than spam.
You send a resume to someone, you don't hear back. And you say to yourself, "Hey! This is a bad recruiter. They didn't call me!" However, you send a resume that did nothing to demonstrate that you are qualified for the role that they are trying to fill. So, to you, a good recruiter is always going to be the one who finds you a job.
I think there are clues to a successful recruiter or a good recruiter through longevity with one agency. For example, if you see someone who has been with the firm for 10 or 15 years, you know they are filling jobs. You know that firm has an environment for them that allows them to be able to perform at a high level for their corporate clients. That's one indicator that guarantees that there is a possibility they could be effective for you, but there are no guarantees.
How can you recognize a good headhunting firm?
Longevity is normally a variable. As the firm did in operation for, I don't know, pick a number of years? However, there are people who start off firms who may be out on their own now. They had been with the firm for 10 or 15 years and recently started a search firm that is only been open for 3 months. Does that make them less capable? I don't think so.
I don't think size of firm matters. After all, you can contact Robert Half, 1 of the largest recruiting firms in the world or Manpower, again, 1 of the largest recruiting firms in the world, you got the wrong person, what happens is that they miss out on opportunities for you. They aren't sending you out on things because he got the wrong person at the right firm. To be clear, I am not endorsing either of those firms in case you misconstrue that I was using their names as an endorsement. I was just using them as an example of huge firms in the recruiting sector.
There are boutique firms that do a far better job than the larger firms, but they are specialized or "narrow focused." They may be a part of a network of recruiting firms like n NPA Worldwide that allows firms to have good market penetration so that even though this person might be a solopreneur, they have access to 500+ other recruiting firms around the world and can submit your resume to affiliates in other places. Again, it doesn't guarantee anything.
At the end of the day, I think the issue comes down to the question and how the question really implies, "Who can get me a job?" Remember, there are no guarantees. After all, all they can do is get you in the door. They can't get you the job because your performance on the interviews may stink, your expectations may be atrocious, the resume is even worse, yada, yada, yada.
The fact is 70% of all positions are filled as a result of networking. 70% of those 70% are filled. As a result of introductions to people that you didn't know at the beginning of your job search. You need to go out there and network and not just simply outsource your efforts to recruiting firms. Don't just simply apply to job boards because, between job boards and recruiting firms, they only fill 30% of all jobs.
Don't be a fool. Get out there and start meeting new people. Start talking to others. Don't outsource just to recruiters.