6 recommendations for a successful recruiter relationship

So you’re thinking about contacting a recruiter or you’re already in touch with one. Either way, you want that relationship to get off to the right start. You want it to develop into something fruitful. After all, recruiters have the skills and contacts to help you pull off your next career move.

I have supported many hundreds of candidates since forming Hathaway Recruitment in 2011. I find long-term relationships with candidates to be the most rewarding. Successful working relationships boil down to getting communication right.

As the people on the ‘other side’ of your call or email, we have experienced all kinds of communication with candidates. The good. The bad. And the unbelievable!

This article will give you the inside knowledge on successful communication with a recruiter. It covers topics like preparation, honesty and trust.

Be clear

It’s important to have an idea about what you’re looking for from the start. Know your goals. Know your skills, strengths, and weaknesses. Know the kind of company you want to work for. Know the kind of culture you will be comfortable with.

Before you talk to a recruiter, write a list of pros and cons about your current role and company. Have a think about your previous career history as well. What you’ve liked and not liked. Which job you enjoyed the most and why.

And why not be aspirational? Tell us about your dream position. Recruiters are not career counsellors but we can guide you in your career to a point.

We’re here to help and support your job search. That requires clarity from you.

Be honest

Any long-term working relationship is built on honesty and trust. Companies trust us to help them hire candidates that will fit their roles and their culture. For us to do that successfully, we need honesty from the candidates we put forward to companies.

Recruiters need honesty about what you want, what kind of culture fits your personality best, and your career background. Be clear about your strongest skills as well as those skills that need some development.

Also, be honest if you’re working with other recruiters or applying for roles directly. We understand that your goal is to secure a new role and you’ll have eggs in other baskets. If you tell a recruiter about the companies you’re interviewing or applying for, even without divulging the actual company name, you can help them understand more about the types of roles and industry sectors you’re interested in.

Being honest about all the places you have already applied means we won’t duplicate efforts. We work hard for our clients and it feels great to see that pay off. It feels less great to see that effort go to waste.

Presenting an honest picture of yourself also means keeping your CV up-to-date and accurate. If you have gaps in your CV or have held several short-term positions in a short space of time, tell us why. We can tell you how best to market your background and explain job changes to our clients.

Be trusting

Speaking of trust, you will be divulging lots of personal information to recruiters. So it’s important you trust them and can get along with them on a personal level.

Once you have found a recruiter that you think could help, commit to that relationship. Trust them to do their job and you can build a beneficial long-term relationship with them.

A good recruiter will take time to understand what you need and your strengths. They will also understand the needs of their clients (the companies they recruit for). It can often take time and a lot of hard work to match the two together successfully. A little bit of patience and a lot of trust can really pay off.

Be in touch

Effective communication is a two-way street. Good recruiters are busy. We’re focused on placing candidates into the right positions, and we have numerous candidates to support. Although we’d love to, we don’t have time to check in with everyone every week.

It’s in your benefit to put in a phone call, email or message via social media to give the recruiter a gentle reminder that you’re still looking for permanent roles or are available for interim work.

This is also an opportunity to ask for some constructive criticism. If opportunities aren’t forthcoming and things have gone quiet after some applications or interviews, follow up with the recruiter. Ask for details about what happened and for some advice on how to improve your chances.

It’s also worth establishing what method of communication is best for you and the recruiter. Some people love email, phone calls, or prefer to meet face-to-face. Some people are more comfortable with WhatsApp or video calls using Google Hangouts. Understanding this will lead to fewer missed messages and smoother communication.

And finally on this topic, it’s nice to keep in touch once you have landed a new role thanks to a recruiter’s hard work. If you developed a good relationship with them, stay in touch. You could write a short email every so often. You could refer friends and colleagues to them. This will make future work with the recruiter all the more pleasant.

Be courteous

Like anyone, recruiters want to work with people they like. People that treat them like respected professionals. Think of this relationship as practice for your future relationship with a hiring manager.

For example, if a recruiter gets in touch with you, always return their call or email or social media message. I know what you’re about to say; “But most recruiters never return my messages!” Not all recruiters are like this and the better ones will remember you if you come back to them promptly.

A recruiter will find it easy to recommend you for a role if your relationship with them has been positive and professional. After all, it’s their relationship with a company and the hiring manager on the line as well.

Be committed

This may seem like Job Search 101, but you should commit to any meetings or interviews. We recommend only committing to a date and time for an interview if you’re 100% certain you will follow-up and attend. And, of course, potentially want the job!

We want you to get the job and be successful in your career. We want a long-term relationship with you. A good recruiter is never satisfied with just filling roles. This kind of short-term approach will eventually backfire for everyone involved. Instead, they will match the right people with the right role after assessing things like experience, skills, and cultural fit.


Competition can be fierce for any kind of position in a good company. You need every advantage you can get. Developing a strong working relationship with a trusted recruiter will pay off now and in the future.

What next?

Why not have a look at how we help candidates like you:

You can also contact us for more information about anything covered in this article.