4 Signs You're Working with a True Recruiting Partner - Not Just a Vendor

Sep 20, 2023

What’s the difference between a partner and a vendor?

Consider this example: A hiring manager has connected with a candidate. They like the candidate and think he or she might be a great fit for the company, but throughout the interview process, there have been some questions and concerns that the hiring manager is a little unsure about. So what does the hiring manager do? They call their recruiter for advice.

Now, in this case, the hiring manager met the candidate on his own; the recruiter has no “stake” in whether the candidate gets hired or not. But the hiring manager knows and trusts the recruiter’s expertise, and knows that the recruiter wants to help – even if there’s no paycheck involved.

That’s a partnership.

In a vendor-client relationship, connections are transactional. With a true partner, every connection is about strengthening the long-term relationship. While most recruiters do work on commission, in a partnership, the top priority is supporting each other, whatever it takes.

So what should hiring managers and job-seekers look for in a recruiting partner? Here are 4 important qualities that distinguish a partner from a vendor:


Honesty is the foundation of any great relationship. A vendor might tell you what you need to hear in order to make a sale. A partner, however, will always tell you the truth – even when it runs counter to their own self-interest. For example, there are circumstances when a candidate might have received a job offer, but the truth is that it’s in their best interest not to take it based on their long-term career trajectory. A recruiting vendor might encourage them to accept the offer anyway, but a recruiting partner will tell them the truth and advise them against it.

In other cases, a hiring manager might be preparing to make an offer to a candidate, but a recruiter received less-than-positive feedback during a reference check. A vendor might keep those remarks to themselves, but a partner will share the feedback and help the hiring manager ensure they’re making the right long-term choice for their company. A recruiting partner will also always share honest feedback throughout the hiring process to help keep candidates and clients on the same page.


A recruiting vendor is focused mainly on one thing: helping companies hire candidates. But a recruiting partner should be committed to serving their clients and candidates in many different ways. They might help put together resumes and project lists, offer career trajectory analysis, prepare hiring managers and candidates for interviews, or provide market compensation data and other helpful information.

None of those tasks are tied directly to a recruiter’s paycheck, but they’re all things that a true recruiting partner will be willing to work on in order to help support both their clients and candidates.


If you’re working with a vendor, it might be hard to keep regular communication flowing. Emails and phone calls might slip through the cracks, and you might have to wait longer than you’d like for responses and feedback. With a recruiting partner, it will be very clear that you are a priority. Whether you call early or late, a recruiting partner won’t make you feel like an inconvenience. They will work hard to respond promptly and keep lines of communication open to ensure a smooth, efficient process.

Recruiting partners will also work hard from the beginning of the relationship to understand the company and candidate’s short- and long-term needs, and how they can best be of service. They will ask questions and truly get to know the heart of the issues their industry partners are facing, as well as the character and preferences of the companies and candidates they work with so that they can facilitate the best possible long-term matches.


As important as honesty, service, and communication are, it’s just as important for a recruiter to be able to meet the needs of their clients and candidates. This means a true recruiting partner will have a deep knowledge of the industries and markets they serve, allowing them to understand the intricacies of the problems and challenges their industry partners face and how best they can help in any situation.

Sometimes that will mean giving hiring managers access to passive candidates who trust the recruiter enough to be open to new opportunities. Other times, it might mean calling unsolicited references to give a full picture of a candidate’s skills and qualifications, or sharing generalized market compensation data to help hiring managers ensure that their salary and benefit packages are at or above market value.

If you’re working with a professional recruiter who exhibits these four qualities, there’s a great chance you’re working with a dedicated partner, not just a vendor. It’s important to remember that partnership goes both ways – hiring managers and candidates alike should ensure that as they engage with recruiters in their industry, they prioritize their own honesty, service, communication, and knowledge as well.

About the Author

David Goodrum

David began his career at Kimmel & Associates in 1999 and has occupied one desk and one territory throughout his tenure with the company. He is dedicated and diligent in his work with the heavy civil construction market, concentrating on clients in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.

Read More About David Goodrum
Contact Kimmel and Get Started Today
Let Us Help