Q. Some of your friends and colleagues have used a recruiter to find jobs, and you are thinking of doing the same. How do you find good recruiters in your industry?
A. The best way is through a referral from a friend or a colleague in your field of work. You can also search Google or LinkedIn for both recruitment firms and recruiters.
There are two kinds of recruiters, retained and contingent, and both are paid by the hiring company, not the candidate. Retained recruiters are paid an upfront fee and a hiring fee, while contingent recruiters are paid only when their candidate is hired.
Both types of recruiters often specialize in particular fields, so look for recruiters in your industry and read their biographies, paying attention to their level of experience and whether they have major companies as clients, says Dave Mason, banking practice director of the Judson Group, an affiliate of the global recruiting firm MRINetwork, which provides both retained and contingent search services.
If you have heard a recruiter's name mentioned before, or read about him or her in industry publications, that's another good sign, says Mr. Mason, whose affiliate is based in Grand Rapids, Mich. "Our niches are so well defined, many people know who I am before I have heard about them."
Another way to find recruiters is through professional associations or at industry conferences, says John F. Salveson, co-founder of the Salveson Stetson Group, a retained executive search firm in Radnor, Pa.
Q. Although recruiters often reach out to potential candidates, you might want to initiate contact. What's the best way to do that?
A. Send a résumé and an introductory note with information that's not in your résumé, like whether you are willing to relocate and your compensation requirements, says Dan Kaplan, managing partner at CTPartners, a retained global executive recruitment firm in New York.
Give the recruiter specific reasons for wanting to make a move. "Good reasons would be you've lost confidence in the direction of management, the company or the team," Mr. Mason says. "It could be your line of business has been restructured, and it's hurt your ability to do your job."
Stay well-informed about your industry, Mr. Salveson advises. "I lead our wholesale distribution practice," he says, "and if someone contacts me saying they saw what I wrote on the Modern Distribution Management Web site, I'm all over that."
Q. What can you do to raise your visibility and be noticed by recruiters?
A. Contribute articles to trade publications and blogs, or participate in their comments sections, because recruiters check them for names that come up often, Mr. Salveson suggests. Attend industry conferences, lead a seminar or be part of a panel discussion.
Many recruiters use LinkedIn as a tool for finding candidates. Amish Shah, chief executive of the recruitment firm Millennium Search in Charlotte, N.C., says he often finds candidates that way, especially through user groups related to information technology, the industry in which he recruits. Most of Millennium's recruiting is done on a contingent basis.
Q. How often should you be in contact with recruiters? And how do you stay on their radar screen?
A. Check in about once a week and let them know of any open positions you've heard about. When they contact you, respond within 48 hours, Mr. Kaplan suggests. It's also fine to work with more than one recruiter at a time, he says: "If you're smart you will, because we all have different sets of contacts."
Not every recruiter will guarantee confidentiality, but it's best to ask for it, especially if you don't want your current employer to find out you are looking for another position, says Carolyn Leadbeater, a recruiter in New York with Quantum Management Services, a contingent recruitment firm based in Montreal. "I would never send a candidate's information without their permission," she said.
Remember that this is a two-way relationship, so offer information and referrals whenever you can. "We are in the business of getting to know good people in the industry, and you want to become part of that network," Mr. Kaplan says. And if a recruiter calls to ask if you could recommend someone for a particular position, and that job is one you want, you have an early chance to throw your hat in the ring.
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.