How to screen a financial recruiter

Robin Judson | Real Estate Weekly

Hiring a financial recruiter to assist in filling vacant positions within your company can be a tremendous advantage to executives and human resources professionals alike. From identifying candidates with the right skills to finding someone who fits with the organizational culture, recruiters can help financial institutions save time and money by identifying the best candidate for a position.

The next time your company is looking to hire, use these key criteria to assist in screening a financial recruiter:

Whom do your contacts trust?

Word-of-mouth referrals are a great way to find a qualified financial recruiter. When setting out to hire a recruiter, ask friends and colleagues who have recently hired through a recruiter for a referral. In addition, ask any friends who were recently placed by a recruiter how they found the experience. These recommendations can help identify recruiters who are trusted by those you trust.

Look for insiders

In addition to seeking referrals from friends and colleagues, look for financial recruiters that have worked in the finance industry. Who better to help staff a hedge fund or bank than someone who spent years working inside these institutions? Financial recruiters who have worked on Wall Street are familiar with the demands of the industry and can bring valuable insight to a candidate search. The questions these recruiters ask of potential candidates will be more insightful than a general business recruiter would use. This intimate familiarity with the industry also helps financial recruiters build relationships with both their clients and candidates, allowing for the best possible outcome.

It’s all about relationships

Relationships play a critical role in the recruiting business. To be successful, recruiters need to establish strong relationships with both clients and candidates. These relationships help recruiters find candidates with not only the right skills, but the right attitude and cultural values. For example, a fund that requires new hires to figure out their operation with little direction needs to hire a self-motivated candidate. The recruiter needs to understand these requirements and recognize these traits.

Working with a financial recruiter that understands these nuances can be the difference between making a good hire and a great hire. When evaluating a financial recruiter, ask about the longevity of their client relationships. Knowing a company has trusted a recruiter to repeatedly place staff within its organization is typically an endorsement of the recruiter’s reputation for integrity and trust among their clients.

Remember, just because a financial recruiter’s rates are the most affordable doesn’t mean they are the best match for your company. In many instances, a lower cost may mean less diligent screening practices and less time invested in cultivating key relationships.

Client confidentiality

While asking about the longevity of client relationships can provide valuable insight when screening a financial recruiter, it is important to find a recruiter that is mindful of client confidentiality. Keep your antennae up for recruiters who talk too freely about their clients and the challenges they face with hiring. Referencing current and past clients in a pitch can build credibility but airing a client’s dirty laundry is another story.

Automation vs. robots

As much as people love technology, it is impossible to build a meaningful and reciprocal relationship with a machine. While high-level automation, such as subscribing to elite candidate databases, is a key feature to look for in a financial recruiter, beware of agencies that automate the relationship building process. To save time and money, some recruiting firms have implemented automated calling technology that follows up on emails with a robo-call to the candidate. This impersonal approach will turn off quality candidates from working with the recruiter or the company they represent.

Lastly, ask recruiters if they are using social media to assist in identifying key talent. While tools such as LinkedIn and Twitter can help in targeting the right candidates for a position, there needs to be a deeper level of engagement following the initial interaction. Ask recruiters how they deepen social media-based relationships and how they are establishing one-on-one contact with these candidates, many of whom may be geographically distant from the recruiter and/or their client.

When hiring a financial recruiter to help staff your company, take the time to complete your due diligence. Doing your homework and asking for references can make the difference between finding the candidate with the right skills and the candidate with the right skills as well as a work ethic that is compatible with company culture.

Robin Judson is founder and managing partner of Robin Judson Partners, LLC a boutique career placement firm for hedge funds, investment banking and private equity. She can be reached at (212) 209-3944 or


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