Main image of article 5 Signs of a Highly Competent Technical Recruiter

Whether you’re actively looking for a new job or patiently waiting for the perfect opportunity to come along, working with a highly competent tech recruiter can be extremely beneficial to your search.

Good recruiters have access to openings that are not advertised on job boards and proactive hiring needs that will only be filled when the right person comes along. They also form strong relationships with hiring managers to get the inside scoop about organizations’ preferences and hiring practices.

But let’s face it: not all tech recruiters have the connections and experience you need. Here are some ways to identify a recruiter who can actually help you land your dream job and take the next step in your career.

Good Tech Recruiters Build Trust Through Competence

A good tech recruiter distinguishes themselves from competitors by presenting a role that anticipates your next move and is capable of accelerating your career progression, explained Mei Lu, a career development coach and founder and CEO of Jobfully and Geekology.

To be fair, the job they initially present may not be exactly what you want or check all of the boxes on your list, but it should be in the ballpark. It should be apparent that the recruiter has researched your background and understands the career path that you’re on when they reach out, not throwing darts in the dark, Lu said.

Great Tech Recruiters Ask Great Questions… and Listen Even Better

A good tech recruiter is competent. A great recruiter strives for better.

For instance, a great tech recruiter asks insightful questions that explore your past accomplishments and future career goals. They are not afraid to probe deeper and sometimes even challenge, but always with the intent of helping candidates get a clearer picture of what they really want, noted Melvin Suen, managing principal of tech recruiting firm, Plus10.

As a benchmark, Suen says that if your initial exchanges with the recruiter don’t get you thinking, then the recruiter is likely not thinking deeply, either. You want to avoid a recruiter who seems like they are reading from a script or going through the motions just to fill a position.

Great recruiters don't just talk, however: they are also excellent listeners.

They don’t treat you like a product or try to pressure you into accepting an interview. They are empathetic and understand that changing jobs can be a challenging and risky endeavor. A great recruiter listens and understands what you really want; then they help you make the right choice when you're making a career change, by considering both the logical and emotional factors.

Great Tech Recruiters Paint an Accurate Picture

Especially in today’s workplace where much of the work is remote or hybrid, a great technical recruiter can visualize what an organization potentially needs. They get inside the mind of the hiring manager to understand how the teams interact, as well as how they collaborate and approach problem-solving.

These recruiters can paint an accurate picture of an organization’s culture and technical environment, to help you imagine what working there is really like before you agree to a job interview. They are also fully transparent when describing your working relationship and what the hiring process will be like. 

Great Tech Recruiters Coach You Up

A great tech recruiter can actually give you advice that makes you a stronger candidate.

For instance, they might suggest more effective and engaging ways to present your transferable skills and experience in your resume and during interviews.

As a litmus test, their recommendations should not only make sense, but should make it easier to sell your capabilities to hiring managers.

However, one thing a recruiter should never do is ask you to lie or embellish your skills. If a recruiter ever asks you to bend the truth, run the other way.

Elite Tech Recruiters Share Strategies for Reaching the Next Level in Your Career

An elite tech recruiter not only does all of these things, but can also give you technical advice to move your career in the right direction.

For instance, they might recommend adding a tool or programming language to your toolbox that can significantly boost your productivity and your marketability.  

For example, they might suggest that a senior Java developer learn TypeScript to show employers that they are capable of using prior knowledge to build new skills and are motivated to continue their professional growth. Or they might point out the one thing you need to add to your portfolio to make yourself a valuable, complete senior web developer candidate.

An elite recruiter understands the distinction and the small differences in the scope of responsibilities between different roles, such as a senior and principal engineer, Lu said.

While they may not have hands-on technical experience, an elite recruiter has enough knowledge to have an effective career development conversation with someone who is looking to move up or even switch to a brand-new specialty or career.