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What makes a good recruitment consultant?

When working as a contractor, it's inevitable that you'll speak to a number of recruitment consultants. The better ones will find you more work faster, so it's to your advantage to find these consultants and stick with them - but how do you know who they are?

The big concerns for many contractors are common to the vast majority of recruitment consultants, and really come down to a basic business acumen.

You want your consultant to be honest, and to follow through, and to keep his or her promises. All of these things are obviously important, but any recruitment consultant who doesn't do them isn't going to be in business very long.

Another big concern for many contractors is how high the recruitment consultant's margin is. This is really a non-issue; the ones that take a large fee can get that fee because they provide quality referrals (that means you), and the companies that care about quality referrals are perfectly willing to pay what you're worth.

What matters most about a recruitment consultant is the attention you receive, both when seeking a position and whilst on assignment. The best recruitment consultants will check in with you every few weeks, whether to make sure you're still happy in your current position, or to keep you in the loop about jobs they're pursuing on your behalf.

A common indicator of a below average consultant is one who doesn't quite hold a professional standard. Consultants who treat you like a personal friend, rather than a business client, are frequently covering up their lack of business skills. Be wary of consultants who invite you down the pub on the weekend, or call you "mate" after just a few minutes. Some of them may actually be earnest, and sincerely want to be your personal friend... but it pays to be cautious.

Once you've found a reliable and professional recruitment consultant, you'll want to stay in touch - even when you're not looking for a position. They're hard to come by, and it may be quite some time before you find another.

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