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Hiring a Contract Recruiter? Here’s What Matters Most.

We’ve been hiring contract recruiters for many years and have learned what skills the best candidates possess. If you are filling this role, read what can help make your next contract recruiter your best contract recruiter!

The right experience

Industry experience may be crucial for some roles, but it’s not mandatory across the board. If, for example, you are seeking a recruiter in the area of software engineering, life science or medical devices, industry experience is important. It will give you a recruiter with the right network, the ability to talk about the technical aspects of the job and an understanding of the nuances that accompany the recruitment of niche professionals. They’ll also have the network to tap for referrals and will be more likely to find the coveted “passive job seeker” – someone who is employed but open to hearing about career opportunities. These specialized recruiters speak the language and understand the market; you will pay accordingly for this kind of recruiter, and it’s worth it.

If you are in a technical industry but are looking to fill corporate or non-technical jobs, or even more junior industry roles, specific industry experience is not crucial; don’t pass up a candidate who is an excellent cultural fit and has the right personality and background.

Agency and corporate backgrounds

When considering contract recruiter candidates, hiring companies like to see a blend of agency and corporate experience as each enriches the recruiter’s background. The agency side gives the candidate rock-solid headhunting skills; it’s the best training ground around. Someone with agency experience typically learns sourcing first – an invaluable skill for any recruiter. In contrast, corporate recruiters sometimes get a steady feed of candidates, so they are not focused on sourcing; this could be problematic in the hiring cycle. On the flip side, corporate training produces recruiters who are polished and have the finesse and professionalism needed to excel in the role. While you could get a top recruiter with either corporate or agency experience, someone with both is ideal.


A screening of corporate recruiter candidates should include an assessment of their abilities to reach a targeted network. For LinkedIn, hiring companies want to see a large number of connections. They also check what groups the candidate belongs to and their level of involvement and activity in those groups. Recommendations are important, too, and especially impressive when they come from a former manager. Finally, recruiters observe your overall professional social media activity. Why is all of this important? If the candidate is well connected and active in their networks, they are more likely to have strong sourcing abilities; they will have the contacts to find those hard-to-find candidates along with a network they can influence in a positive way.

Ability to partner and be service oriented

You want a professional who can build rapport quickly with the hiring manager and all members of the recruiting team. With contract recruiting, the hiring manager may work with three or four different recruiters during the course of a year. Because of the turnover, sometimes they lose trust and may not be as driven to build the relationship. Additionally, you need someone who can work well with all levels within the company from recruiting coordinators to senior managers. How do you assess these traits? Spend time during the interview focusing on the soft skills including whether they are friendly, outgoing, positive and personable. The rapport needs to be there from the start.

In addition to building relationships with everyone on the team, the best contract recruiters are service oriented. They know how to provide a high level of customer service to the hiring team they are supporting, as well as the candidates with whom they are communicating. Look for someone who is polite, professional, responsive and communicative with all constancies. Anything less and you risk damaging your department and company reputation.

Strong resume

We’ve spoken with hiring managers who are hesitant to hire career contract recruiters, but we see this background as a strength. Professional recruiters often seek-out a career in contracting. They are quick to build relationships with the hiring team, they adapt to new environments quickly, they understand their role and what they are to accomplish and they are laser-focused on getting the job done and done right. Don’t be quick to judge a resume if you see several contract assignments. When assessing a contract recruiter, look for roles that have lasted at least three months as well as consistent employment.

Champion for your company

A recruiter is often the first point of contact a candidate has with your company. You need someone who sounds sophisticated, excited, professional and who can sell the organization to the applicants. Most importantly, you want the candidate to end the conversation with a very positive impression of your company, and the right recruiter will ensure that happens every time.

Professionally persistent

Recruiters need drive, determination and self-motivation to be successful. The best recruiters are persistent without being unprofessional or bothersome. Tenacity helps recruiters identify hard-to-find candidates and sell these candidates on the company and role. Star recruiters can find a way to tell the company’s story and make a potential candidate think twice before hanging up the phone.

Hiring a contract recruiter is an ideal way to fulfill staff augmentation projects big and small. The key is to assess your needs carefully with your hiring team and take the time to hire a contract recruiter who embodies what you deem most crucial.

Photo credit: Pexels

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