The Different Types of Recruiters (and The One That Works for You)


When you decide to work with a recruiting firm to find new talent for your company, it’s very important to make sure you find a recruiter who will make your life easier, and not harder. There are many factors that come into play when picking the right recruiter, the first being their method of work, how they charge their fee, and how those affect their success in locating and placing candidates.

Retained Vs. Contingency Recruiters

There are two main ways that recruiting firms operate. First, the retained recruiter, much like their name, work on a retainer fee. They will charge an upfront fee to conduct a candidate search and they will get paid, whether they manage to find a placement for their client or not. Then, there’s the contingency recruiter, who will only get paid if they are successful at finding you a placement. The contingency recruiter may work faster and harder as they will not get their money otherwise. But the retained recruiter may be willing to spend more time to find the more qualified candidates, as they are not chasing a higher success rate.

It is all a matter of assessing what’s better for your company’s needs. If you have a role that needs to be filled in a week, for example, a contingency recruiter may be the right solution. If you have a role that is in a specific niche, you may want to find the right retained recruiter. Once you’ve settled on this matter, there is another thing to consider.

The Three Recruiter Personality Types

Within those two recruiting methods, you can also find different personality types, as not all recruiters have the same level of experience, connections, professionalism, dedication to the role, skills and so on. Usually, recruiters will act in one of three ways:

  1. The Reactive Recruiter

This recruiter will get all of the information from you about the role and start posting it on job boards, social media, newspapers, message boards, and similar places. Basically, this recruiter relies on candidates who are actively looking for jobs to come directly to them. They won’t go out of their way to find that special person that may not be browsing job boards every day — they just trust that the right person will just see the add and apply. The most that they’ll do is approach people in their database who have applied to other jobs in the past.

  1. The Proactive Recruiter

This type of recruiter will not wait around and wait for the talent to come to them. They understand that the best candidates don’t actually spend their time on job boards because they are busy succeeding at their current job. These recruiters will target the talent they want and will approach them directly, either by advertising or simply by picking up the phone. They will try and be louder than other recruiters, talk your company up and make the best case for candidates to work with you. They will size up the talent and will not give up. Sometimes, however, they may come across as too aggressive.

  1. The Interactive Recruiter

The recruiter at this level knows that the best way to convince a great candidate to work for you is to develop long-term connections and build up the company’s brand. They will usually have a big pool of candidates they work with, and know who will work well in which environment and what company culture. They won’t try to make matches between a company and a talent that won’t work, because they know that if they work hard enough, a better person will come along. They are masters of networking and human relationships.

What is the Best Recruiter for You?

While it’s hard to know from the first conversation with a recruiter what their personality type is, you can try and assess. You can ask them about their candidate search methods, their talent pools, if they already have some candidates in mind and so on. The reactive recruiter should only be your last resort, as this person will usually bring you candidates you could have found yourself. While the interactive recruiter may sound like the best one out there, in many times, the proactive recruiter can do the job just as well.