Thinking about starting a job search soon? It’s a big decision, as a new role can change the trajectory of your career, and in some cases, your overall life! Given the complexities of the market and the number of opportunities available, engaging a professional recruiter can be a smart move to help you conduct an efficient and successful search.

You can look to the internet and sites such as LinkedIn as a starting point for your research, and ask for referrals from your professional network, too. Once you’ve identified and connected with a recruiter you think you might like to work with, ask to have a one-to-one conversation by phone or video. That will be a critical step in deciding whether that person is best-suited to help you with your job search.

Here are some questions to ask as you evaluate a recruiter to assist with your job search:

What’s your professional background?

If you’re an accountant, for example, it helps to have a recruiter with past accounting experience, as they will have a more thorough understanding of roles, job requirements and hiring trends. The same goes for other specialized, highly skilled fields, like technology, creative, legal and administrative.

Also look for professionals who have an extensive background in hiring, as their track record and knowledge of the market will be invaluable in your search. And find out whether the talent solutions firm they work for has multiple locations and a long history of stability and success.

See this page for details on how Robert Half can help with your job search, and what fields our skilled recruiters specialize in.

What are your specializations?

Again, specialization matters when choosing a recruiter to help you succeed in your job search. The technology job seeker will have a much different experience working with a recruiter focused solely on tech roles, versus a generalist who places tech in addition to warehouse staff, medical assistants and other very different positions.

Simply put, generalists do not have the depth of industry knowledge and experience to secure the right positions and negotiate the best possible compensation for their candidates.

You can learn about the latest compensation trends right now by viewing the free Salary Guide from Robert Half. Get started here.

How do you find opportunities for candidates?

Be wary of recruiters who only search existing job openings online and try to match candidates with what they find. There’s no value-add here in working with them, as you could easily do this yourself.

Instead, look for recruiters who have solid industry and client relationships. These professionals are most likely to have an inside track on various positions at different levels — even before employers start looking for candidates outside of their firm, in some cases.

To start searching for employment opportunities now, try using the job search app from Robert Half. Learn more about it in this post.

What’s a typical hiring timeline in this market?

Ask the recruiter for insight into current trends with hiring processes. How many interview rounds should you expect? And what is the average length of time from an initial interview to the job offer? If you have timing requirements for your search, be sure to share those details with the recruiter. Also, be upfront about whether you’re already talking with hiring managers or interviewing with firms.

What advice do you have for me?

Be prepared to share your career interests and expectations for your next role with a potential recruiter and listen carefully to their responses. Solid recruiters will give you specific feedback based on what you’ve shared. Perhaps your salary expectations are a bit too low, or you need more experience or a credential before pursuing a particular role. In other cases, the recruiter may suggest you revise your resume to better reflect your experience with an in-demand skill set.

As you think about your conversations, what are your overall impressions? Did the recruiter seem to understand your current situation? Do you feel you received personalized advice and thoughtful answers to your questions? Was the conversation rushed? And did you feel any pressure to take the next steps that didn’t seem to align well with your career goals?

Your next role could be a life-changing position that opens the door to higher compensation, career growth and exciting professional challenges. So, don’t go it alone in your job search. A skilled recruiter can help you move quickly to find a new role, whether you want to work remotely or on-site, and they will negotiate for the best package possible. They will also look beyond a single job placement. A recruiter will want to help you find your next role, but also be a resource to you for years to come, as you embark on future job searches or hire people for your own team.