By Dan Simmons

We recently discussed the “WOW!” factor when offering a prospective employee a position with your company and drew the analogy between a diamond engagement ring and the sign-on bonus. Clearly, when you’re out to acquire the “ring,” you’re going to go to the most reputable jeweler in the area and will no doubt discuss the four “Cs” of a diamond.

However, where do you go to find that prospective employee? After you’ve exhausted your internal and traditional external resources and decide to engage a recruiter—how do you decide which one to use? Consider the four “Cs” of a quality recruiter: character, connections, communication, and commitment.

Let’s take a moment and discuss each one of these attributes and why they are important to you.

By this, we don’t mean are they a character – but do they possess the attributes that you look for in people you prefer to deal with? Do they present themselves with integrity? In other words, when they tell you they won’t recruit out of your company, do you believe them? Character is important because you need to be able to trust the information that is given, the judgment of the person giving it, and the motivation behind it.

Do they have the resources to provide the services they offer? If working in a tight niche area, are they familiar with your competitors and the people who work within that niche? Do you discuss with them the competitors from which you would like to acquire people, or do you leave it up to them to acquire the appropriate applicants? If working in a more generalist role, do they have contacts throughout your industry that will allow them to be responsive to your varying demands? Recruiters who have significant network connections complete assignments more quickly than those who do not.

This is the key to an effective relationship. Does your recruiter not only communicate with you, but do they communicate effectively? Are they getting you the information you require in the way that is most conducive with your operating procedures? And are you effectively communicating with them? Are you both emailing when you should be talking? Email is a great way to transmit data, but relationships and rapport are built through talking to one another. How well do you know the people you are dealing with? Face-to-face meetings are the most effective way to communicate. Recruiters who listen and communicate effectively provide candidates who are both technically and culturally a fit.


How willing are they to “complete” the search? Do you get the feeling that once a recruiter has searched their database and found nothing, their search efforts have concluded? How much times do they spend trying to get to know not only about the particular search assignment you may have, but also about your organization, its culture, and philosophy? Are they asking the kinds of questions that will help them to sell a prospective candidate on coming to work for your company?

After years in the recruiting business, I can offer this advice: you want to deal with a recruiter who demonstrates a high level of character; who instills trust; who has the connections to find the people you need; who listens and effectively communicates that information to you; and who is committed to not only finishing the assignment, but to continually building a long-term relationship by keeping you apprised of appropriate talent.

If you have any questions about this topic, please contact me at