How to spot a genuine ‘specialist' recruiter (amidst the crowds of impostors)

11 June 2016 By Alastair Cleland

1460 Original

​Internal HR recruiters answer 100’s of calls a week from (self-titled) ‘specialists’ in their niche. But what makes a true specialist, and how can you spot the real deal?

This article was originally published by Pentasia consultant Lee Stockley on LinkedIn

I do feel for the internal recruitment team of today’s businesses. Not only are they becoming more and more responsible for every facet of recruitment for the company they work for, but they also have to fend off thousands of recruiters stating proudly that they are “specialists in their area”.

It’s 2016: business is tougher than ever, budgets are tighter, competition for talent fiercer. To truly serve their clients, recruiters need to constantly up their game. That includes learning about their clients’ business, culture and needs.

We recruiters have recognised that, due to the ever expanding world of IT, and the vast diversity of the roles within this industry, we have to gain deep understanding of niche fields (be it Infosec, Devops or perhaps BI/MI) and “specialise” within it.

But it’s easy for us recruiters to call ourselves ‘specialist’.

So easy, in fact, that in-house teams - barraged by calls - know all too well how throwaway the title can be. Every Tom, Dick and Harry calls themselves a ‘specialist’ in this or that.

So which recruiters really justify the title? What gave them the right to call themselves a specialist?

When can a recruiter call themselves ‘specialist’?

Specialists are marked out by their passion, their expertise and their commitment. No one size fits all, but in my experience the following are usually true:

  • They’re curious, not just professionally but personally. They are genuinely interested in the profession, its challenges and direction.

  • They pay attention, researching the company and industry independently, relying on their own expertise rather than being a mere go-between.

  • They always strive to gain understanding from the professionals in their specialist area. Professionals are, after all, the people who know exactly what it is to be a “Information Security Analyst” or “C# Developer”. Who better to learn from?

  • (And they definitely don’t spam HR with 1000s of CVs a day, with no consideration for either the candidates’ or the clients’ needs!)

How to spot the real deal: A specialist recruiter in your niche

Amidst the huge numbers of recruiters out there, it can be hard to spot a true specialist who can deliver results. How do you identify real value?

My advice: above all, listen carefully to the recruiters’ questions.

If a recruiter is sounding particularly interested in what you do, they will ask questions that seem more informed than the general dribble. If you’re hearing “when is your PSL up for renewal” or “where have you interviewed” within the first two sentences, you’re more than likely speaking to someone who’s done little research into you or your company.

If you want to work with a recruiter who genuinely wants to work with you, listen for the question that proves their specialist knowledge…

You’ll discover more efficiency, better understanding and, above all, a vastly more successful recruitment process.