How can software developers find a great recruiter?

The tech job market is booming, and if you’re a software developer or engineer, you may well feel bombarded by eager tech recruiters offering you jobs

If you’re an experienced software engineer, you may consider the number of calls you receive irritating at best.  You've got the pick of the jobs on the market and are headhunted constantly - you don't need recruiters and you don't appreciate those that do a poor job.  However, a great recruiter who can represent you and understand your needs, eliminating any irritating nonsense, is worth their weight in gold when the time is right

At the other end of the spectrum – if you’re a junior developer, you’ll benefit from someone trustworthy who can connect you to great jobs and support you while you grow your developer career

Over the length of your developer work life, a good recruiter might even become your friend! (yes - it does happen)

So if you need help finding the best (and possibly hidden) jobs on the market for your skill set and experience –or are looking for a recruitment partner to help grow your team and advise you - how do you recognise those that will be a joy to work with in comparison to a run of the mill irritation (or worse)?

We’ve put together 10 traits below to help you identify when you're working with a super recruiter - one of the good guys who will look after you, understand your needs correctly and support you for the long term

  1. They’re a specialist in your skillset

If your recruiter is focused on your technology specifically, they will understand the trends in your market better - who’s hiring and who the competition is – plus what the future looks like and the necessary steps you should take to further your career

They should have the right connections with the right type of companies and be able to market you appropriately to those companies based on a deeper understanding of what you do and how that fits into the company as a whole

  1. They keep you in the loop both in the short and long term

This topic is a frequent candidate bugbear when recruiters don’t return phone calls or emails to those in the hiring process.  A great recruiter should have your best interests at heart, be attentive and have you in mind throughout the process – ensuring that you feel looked after - even if that means letting you know when there is ‘nothing new to know’

They should be transparent about the job, the company and the challenges you’ll face and ever mindful of the emotional anxiety that a lack of contact can cause

  1. They’re curious about tech and up to date on tech trends

The tech stack is evolving so fast that even tech leaders find it hard to keep up to date.  Recruiters aren’t expected to know everything about development, but they should want to research their niche to enable them to understand what candidates and hiring managers are talking about and to realise when a candidate is of the right quality for the job

Curiosity is crucial, and a great recruiter will want to understand how a particular technology works, its usage and what the latest market trends are

They attend tech conferences and meetups and talk to industry experts about where the market is going, what languages will be needed and translate that into what a cv needs to include for the latest hot roles.  Moreover, they know those roles well – the experience required, the languages, tools and frameworks – and when an inexperienced candidate is bending the truth!

  1. They’ve got great relationships and an extensive network of contacts

A great tech recruiter connects to a wide range of job opportunities in their niche at both large and small companies – often those that a software developer might not find without help

They build long term relationships and rapport with tech talent enabling them to find the perfect person quickly if the right opportunity arises.  You may not be right for a particular role at a specific time but when you’ve gained further experience - and you’ve got a great relationship with your recruiter -  they should have an eye on what may suit you in the future and be able to pinpoint when the perfect career move presents itself

Recruiters should also be highly active and keen to embrace their tech communities by attending relevant events.  Being at the heart of a community enables recruiters to find out what is happening in relevant companies first hand, but more importantly, it is an excellent way of learning more about the technology itself, the people who use it and enjoying being part of that tech world and the camaraderie within

Find the largest list of UK Tech and Developer Events here  and New York Tech, Developer and Startup Events here

  1. They’re great communicators and know the right questions to ask

Recruiters are all talkers and love a chat, but the greatest ones know how to use conversation to their advantage

They build rapport by being interested in a wide range of topics, so there is likely to be common ground between you - be it craft beer, sport, local transport issues or the weather (if you’re in the UK)

They want to find out what truly motivates their candidates both in a professional sense and personally.  Are they prepared enough to crush the interview or might like a little help with interview coaching or cv proofreading?

Equally, they know how to get crucial information from time-strapped hiring managers as they realise how vital it is to understand the key drivers for hire, the team dynamics and how flexible the manager is to ensure that they provide a good match for the team and the work

When a recruiter can tell the story of the company – where it has come from, where it is going - it’s raison d’etre - what makes them different from their competitors, how the team works together and why people stay there – then they can sell the opportunity to the right person

  1. First, they research you - then get to know you well

Your recruiter should be taking the time to get to know you accurately – the real person – enabling them to support your career success – and you should always feel special!

They should be investing time and energy into researching you (e.g. on Github, Stack, your blogs, articles) and digging deeper into your qualifications and learning about your interests and hobbies - so they know who YOU are not just what your cv looks like

Their success is tied to yours inexorably so they should be interested in your career aspirations and fulfilment, wellbeing and willing to help you get what you want

  1. They’ve got outside proof of excellence

Your experience with a recruiter should be a good one, and there should be a high level of customer care.  How do you know which recruiters will provide that consistently? 

Personal recommendations are beneficial, or you could look at third-party review sites such as Feefo or an agency’s NPS score (Net Promoter Score) to ensure that a company has been fairly vetted by those who have actually used the services, and the recruiter is worth speaking to

See the Explore Group Feefo reviews


  1. They add real value to customers

Most recruiters carry out a wide range of tasks from pitching companies and candidates, sourcing, filtering and identifying candidates, scheduling and holding interviews, negotiating terms -  to mention just a few of their responsibilities 

However, a recruiter has the potential to offer much more and add real value to both potential employees and hiring managers

All recruiters should be able to remove some of the annoying legwork for both candidates and clients, but also add value to a candidate by advising how to improve a cv, successful interview techniques, job strategies and salary advice

The best recruiters act as real consultative partners however and give market advice such as technology trends and workforce supply and demand information, competitor analysis, technology insights and data and even HR advice and strategy

  1. They’ve got the right tools and know how to use them

Recruiters typically find candidates through job boards or LinkedIn who are actively looking for a role to fill their positions. 

A great recruiter goes much further however using a wide range of tools and software.  They are prepared to go the extra mile to unearth talent in places that the average recruiter wouldn’t think of and engage candidates who may be unique and sometimes have the ability and skills to exceed expectations

  1. They know when to give time and when to hurry

There is no denying that recruiters are driven to fill positions as quickly as possible.  Speed is generally what hiring companies need, and one of the key advantages of using an agency is that they should have the connections and processes to enable this.  Finding a new role quickly is also vital for an employee too.  No-one wants to be unemployed for long or suffer anxiety from a long drawn out recruitment process

To keep candidates and hirers both happy, however, recruiters often have to make the process as efficient as possible.  A good recruiter will know when to give time and when to hurry.  They know you might not go for a new permanent role right away and won’t leave your current position for just any old job – and they’ll respect that – realising that you need time to consider, research and mull over the pros and cons before accepting a new position

Great recruiters keep in touch even if you’re not interested right now.  They don’t bug you but do make an effort to let you know they are still there if you need them - continually building a relationship with you because they know you’re a great candidate

In contrast, they’ll also know when to push back on hiring managers on your behalf and when to pick the right battles such as demanding clarity on a role to ensure they present the ideal candidates


Is your recruiter a great recruiter?

If they’ve got all of the 10 traits above you may be dealing with one of the best – hold them tight – they may make a massive difference to your career and life in general

If they’ve got most of the traits – a little honest feedback should always be gratefully received.  A good recruiter should always be looking to improve and should never rest on their laurels – the tech world is moving too fast!

Added 27-Jun-2022