How to Spot a Bad Recruiter

Recruiters often get a bad rap, but the industry is just like any other: Some people are great at what they do, and others – not so much.

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But while consumers often have recourse when treated poorly in other fields, there's very little job seekers can do when they've been burned by a bad recruiter. The best protection against bad recruiters, then, is being able to identify them and knowing when to move on.

Here are six red flags to look out for:

1. Bad Recruiters Talk More Than They Listen

A recruiter's job is to get to know you. The only way they can do that is by listening to your story. If they seem more interested in telling you how the relationship works and only ask questions about basic things like salary expectations and desired title, don't waste your time.

When you leave a meeting with a recruiter, ask yourself: "Does this recruiter know enough about me to retell my career story to an employer? Could they advocate on my behalf if the employer were to have questions or concerns?" You want your recruiter to understand what you're looking for. They should know what motivates you and what will truly satisfy you in a new role. If a recruiter doesn't know these things, there's no way they can adequately represent you or your interests.

2. Bad Recruiters Keep Calling You for Jobs You Don't Want

It's one thing if you told the recruiter to send anything and everything your way, but assuming that you, like most job seekers, have very specific ideas about the direction you want your career to go in, it's a red flag if the recruiter ignores those ideas. If they keep calling you for jobs you have no interest in, take it as a sign that they really don't know you or care to.

3. Bad Recruiters Submit You to Jobs Without Your Consent – and Bully You Into Interviewing for Them

Though the practice is severely discouraged, recruiters will sometimes submit profiles to open roles without consent from the job seeker for competitive reasons and personal gain. Should the client be interested, candidates will feel pressured to interview for the job regardless of whether they want it or not.

It's important to distinguish a recruiter who knows you from a selfish one. A recruiter may urge you to consider a role you're not completely sold on simply because they know both you and the client and firmly believe it's a good match. In this situation, the recruiter is looking out for you, not themselves.

4. Bad Recruiters Keep Asking You the Same Questions

Recruiters meet so many people that it can be hard to keep them all straight. A certain amount of information may naturally fall through the cracks. However, repeatedly asking for the same information from a candidate indicates either a lack of interest or disorganization, neither of which is in your best interest.

5. Bad Recruiters Are Not Responsive

Some candidates need a little more hand-holding than others, and that's okay. However, recruiters are extremely busy prepping candidates for job interviews, meeting with clients, and handling all the administrative tasks that go along with their jobs. This leaves little time for casual chitchat on the phone.

That being said, your recruiter should be available to talk about interview prep, debrief after your interviews, and discuss your job search updates. If you feel your recruiter isn't responsive at all, it's time to end the relationship.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Atrium Staffing blog.

Michele Mavi is Atrium Staffing's resident career expert.