How to identify “relevant” recruiters

by Lauren, CEO of propel careers

this post is reposted from the propel careers blog.

Finding a good recruiter who works in your area of interest can be extremely beneficial for your job search. With thousands of recruitment firms, ranging from one person companies that focus on specific roles, i.e. director level clinical affairs roles, to multinational organizations that focus on many functional areas and level of roles (c-level, VP, director, etc), how do you identify the one(s) which are relevant for you?

Search job boards

Recruiters often post roles on job boards to provide visibility and attract candidates to roles on which they are working. As you search these job boards (i.e. the MassBio Careers page, Indeed, Biospace), you may notice recruitment firms in addition to the biotech/pharmaceutical companies hiring directly. Make a list of these recruitment firms, research them, and email the relevant ones your resume. Some of these firms have newsletters and/or blogs that you can subscribe to which cover job openings, industry trends, and career development articles.

Ask connections

During your informational interviews, ask your connections if they know of recruiters who work in your area of interest. This will uncover recruitment firms that you can add to your list and may also provide you with a warm lead into a firm. Recruiters value referrals. Don’t be shy to email a recruiter and say, X person suggested that I reach out to you since you recruit for companies in the clinical research area.

Career Panels at Industry Conferences

Many industry conferences dedicate at least one panel during their conference to a career related topic. Pay attention to who is on the panel since these individuals may be recruiters relevant to your area.


Search LinkedIn using the advanced search feature and then the keyword and title tabs. For keyword, type in “clinical research” and for title type in recruiter and then hit search. This will yield a number of recruiters (both internal and external to firms). You can then narrow this list by 1st, 2nd, 3rd degree connections, or geography via zipcode. When you identify recruiters of interest, add them to your list and email the recruiters, preferably via their email address. Most recruiters list their email address either in their LinkedIn profile or on their company website.

When you identify a recruitment firm, ask the firm what level of individuals they typically place. If you are a recent Ph.D. graduate and the firm only recruits at the C-level (CEO, CSO, CBO), they won’t be able to assist you. Also ask what type of roles the firm works on. If you want a research role and the firm only does financial roles in life sciences, again, they won’t be able to assist you. If they cannot help you, ask them if they know of other firms you should reach out to. Your diligence in this process will allow you to connect with “relevant” firms which should increase the chances for a successful outcome – a new job for you.

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