Recently a TechRepublic member emailed me and asked, "How do you find a "good" recruiter/head-hunter in your location? Googling for one seems like a "shot in the dark."
I asked Tim Heard, President of eSearch Associates and a frequent contributor to TechRepublic, to address this question. He cautioned first about companies who help job seekers for a fee. He said that most of these companies require that you agree to pay a portion of your income to them once you get a job.
As for someone considering a traditional recruiter, here are some tips:
With respect to more traditional recruiters, whose job it is to help companies fill open positions, word of mouth is certainly a good place to start. Ask people you know who they have worked with and what their experience was. Did the recruiter make inflated promises and then never deliver? Does the recruiter make out every job opportunity to be the opportunity of a lifetime or do they give realistic previews of what to expect?
If you're new in a city, or if your contacts simply can't think of any recruiters that they really trust, then LinkedIn might be a good place to look. Do a search in a city using a search string in the job title that's something like "recruiter OR recruiting OR talent OR people OR employment." Then try listing them according to their number of connections, then again based on their relationship to you + recommendations. One challenge is that LinkedIn has limited the level of detail that Basic members can access when performing searches so that a free (Basic) member can't even see the names of third-degree connections that come up in searches. So if you don't have a paid membership, you might need to get some help from someone who does.
Toni Bowers is the former Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.