Choosing the Right Recruiter

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After fielding too many cold calls from headhunters, some cynics might argue it's not so much "how to choose a recruiter," as "how to avoid being chosen." But that's just the cynics. There's no doubt that if you want to change jobs, it helps to be proactive. So how do you choose?

Belinda Martin, manager at the London financial services recruitment company Joslin Rowe, offers advice on how to choose the right recruiter. Her tips:

Ask a Friend

Consult your friends or colleagues in similar fields. Ask who they've used in the past, and who they'd recommend. A good recruitment firm will generally source at least a third of its new candidates via word of mouth from satisfied customers, so this is one of the quickest and most effective ways of finding a great agency. And your friend will probably be a winner: Most agencies offer the original referrer a small reward for recommending new people.

Do Your Own Research

If you can't ask anyone else for their opinion, or if you're worried your friend's head has been turned by the promise of a golf shop gift certificate, you will need to do your own research.

To start, look for a recruitmenter that specializes in the area you work in. This might sound obvious, but many agencies do a little bit of everything, and you need to find a recruitment firm that's an expert in your field. Take a look in the trade press for firms advertising or commenting on industry issues, or look online - on, say, Google - for the areas you wish to work in.

It's generally best to use an agency that has the capability to find both temporary and permanent jobs, as it gives you greater flexibility in your job search. Some agencies still only do one or the other.

Check the Web sites

Next, visit the Web sites of the recruitment firms you've shortlisted. This will give you an idea of their pedigree (When were they established? Have they won any awards for service?), the clients they recruit for (Does their client list look impressive? Are clients happy to have their logos displayed?), and their current vacancies.

Be Selective

Finally, make your decision and call or send your CV to your preferred agency. Remember, there's very little point in blasting out your CV to everyone. If you've done your research, the agency you choose will invariably be the one with the pick of the jobs.