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Developer Careers Guide 3: Getting the best from recruiters

Most applications will be rejected within the first few seconds of being opened. Key to getting your application past those vital first seconds is knowing how to get the best from recruiters.

First, it is important to keep track of all the positions that you apply for so that you can follow up with people and don’t lose track of potential opportunities. You can use bespoke software or a simple spreadsheet. Organise the columns into:

  • Company
  • Website
  • Recruiter
  • Phone number
  • Email
  • Notes

In many cases the recruitment process starts with the first contact you make with a recruitment agency, as this is where your relationship with your recruiter starts.


Recruiters earn commission from getting you a job. Typically, a recruitment agency will earn between 10-30% of your first year’s salary from getting you a job. Their main concern is to make as much commission as possible. This is not necessarily a bad thing but you need to use it to your advantage, and convince them that you are a great candidate for the position you want. Putting you forward for a job rather than another candidate is going to be in their best interests.

Almost every candidate has received bad service from an agency at some point in his or her career and some recruitment consultants and agents have earned a bad reputation in the IT industry. However, many agents conduct their business professionally and you should not hold one bad experience against all agents, as they could be the key to securing your dream role. It’s also worth remembering that some perceived bad service is actually due, at least in part, to a candidate’s failure to work well with the recruiter.

To make sure you get good service from your recruiter, you need to start by making a good impression on them. If you fail to impress your recruitment agent when you make contact with them it is likely that they will not want to represent you with their client company. It is important you treat recruiters the right way.

You need to come across to the recruiter as someone that will perform very well at interview and is extremely suitable for the role; and this means the recruiter has to see you as being polite, friendly, confident and enthusiastic. If you build a good relationship with your agent, you will make sure you get put forward for every suitable role they have.

It’s essential that you treat every recruiter with respect. There are many occasions where candidates have come across as patronising, despite attempts to be helpful and patient, taking every effort to appreciate their skills and professional experience and to understand how they could meet the requirements of the company with the vacancy.  As recruiters, we are often treated with contempt and naturally this doesn’t make us think well of candidates. As recruiters, we also know that disrespectful candidates rarely – if ever – do well in an interview, and so we cannot confidently make a recommendation to our clients.

Recruiters are handling your career, so despite any misgivings, treat every recruiter with respect. Simple good manners may be enough to encourage them to put you forward as their first choice.

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