Consultant Checklist – Holding Recruiters to a Higher Standard

By: John Hutchins, VP of Client Relations 

Does this sound familiar?  You’re driving your kids somewhere and get an unexpected call from a recruiter:


Recruiter: “Hi, this is Beth from XYZ Consulting Group.  I found your resume on Dice and thought you might be interested in a software development opportunity that just opened up.”

“Sure, tell me about it.”

Recruiter: “Well, I don’t have much detail.  It’s with a company in Denver and they need someone with three skills – Java, J2EE and Agile.  Does that fit your skill set?”

“Yes, it does.”

Recruiter: “Great!  I’ll submit you immediately. Does $75 per hour sound fair?”

“Yeah, that works.”

Recruiter: “Great! Talk to you later. Bye.”

You’re busy, you possess a skill set that is in high demand and recruiters are calling you all of the time with opportunities that rarely come to fruition.  I get it that many recruiters don’t do a good job and, as a result, you don’t want to spend much time talking with them, but a lack of curiosity on the part of consultants only contributes to the problem and may very well come back to bite you!  Here’s a checklist of the minimum information you should require of a recruiter before giving them permission to represent you:

  • Client Name: It is amazing to me how many consultants give permission to be represented by a recruiter without knowing the name of the end client.  If you don’t know the name of the client, how do you keep track of where you’re being submitted?  Many clients are unwilling to consider you if they receive your resume from multiple recruiters.  If a recruiter is unwilling to divulge the name of the client, something is wrong.  Maybe the recruiter doesn’t have permission to recruit for that client.  Plain and simple – don’t give permission to be submitted without knowing where you’re being submitted.
  • Project Details: The recruiter may not be able to answer all of your questions or know intimate details, but they should be able to provide the basics regarding the opportunity.  What does the client do?  What will I be working on?  How big is the team?  Why are they filling this position?  These are basic questions the recruiter should be able to answer.  If they can’t answer these questions or are unable / unwilling to get the answers, I recommend thinking twice before letting them represent you.  They obviously either don’t have a good relationship with the client or don’t know what they’re doing.
  • You would think this is so basic that it goes without mentioning, but there are candidates out there who agree to be submitted to a client without fully understanding where they will be working or whether they’ll be reimbursed for relocation and travel expenses.  It’s a waste of time for everyone if you go through the process and get an offer, only to find out that the lodging expense is far higher than you imagined.  Be sure to work out the location details in advance and do your homework so that you know what you’re getting yourself into.
  • Employment Status: Recruiters are sometimes able to work with you in a variety of ways, such as a W2 employee or 1099 subcontractor or 1099 corp to corp.  If you’re planning to be their employee, they may have options with regard to the benefits they offer.  Before letting a recruiter submit you to a client, be sure to understand what your employment status will be and the benefits or perks to which you’ll be entitled.  It’s better to nail this down up front when you have some negotiating power, rather than waiting until after you’ve gone through the interview process and the offer is on the table.
  • I’ve never actually run across a consultant who has agreed to be submitted without discussing rate in some fashion.  I, however, have talked with consultants who weren’t provided a specific rate, but a rate range.  Don’t settle for a “rate range.”  The recruiter will likely be thinking the low end of the range and you’ll likely be thinking the top end of the range.  Allowing the recruiter to submit you to their client based on a rate range will only create the potential for chaos at the end of the process.  Agreeing to a specific rate up front will make the offer and acceptance stage more enjoyable and less stressful.

The moral to this story is to take responsibility for yourself, demand quality information from the recruiters with whom you work and be organized in your approach to consulting.  Once you start requiring recruiters to act like the professionals they claim to be, the good recruiters will rise to the challenge and you’ll find they can add value by helping you find quality consulting gigs.

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