Could the job market be heating up? I’m hearing from more recruiters, and many of my unemployed friends are reporting the same news. While the number of contacts by recruiters is encouraging, it is more important to work with a few recruiters that have a reputation for quality placement practices. Once you are in contact with a recruiter, how do you decide which recruiters are worth your time and energy?

Recruiters work for a finder’s fee -- The hiring firm pays the recruiter for filling the open position. But by managing your relationship with the recruiter, you can get in front of more quality employers, making it more likely you’ll get a job and the recruiter will get paid. Here are 4 tips for making sure your relationship with a recruiter will work out for the best for both of you:

Missed the Recruiter’s Call? That Could Cost You
I know this seems basic, but always try to answer your primary job search phone. During my recent personal technology crisis, I was unable to connect with 2 recruiters about 2 different jobs. Neither recruiter called my home number, as they probably figured I was best reached via a mobile device. By the time I retrieved my messages and returned their calls, the recruiters had already found enough candidates to fill the available positions.

Does the Recruiter Know the Employer?
During initial conversations with a recruiter, try to learn about his relationship with the hiring manager and the firm itself. A few diligent recruiters will know a company’s key players and their hiring needs and will possess a solid understanding of the overall business. Other recruiters focus on a single relationship within the company, limiting their value, reach and flexibility. A recruiter with depth can tell you a good deal about the people you will meet with, what matters to them and what it will take to click with them during the interview.

Make Sure the Recruiter Is Your Advocate
Look for a recruiter who will collaborate with you to fine-tune your resume before presenting you to the target company. If the recruiter is willing to invest time in you, explain the position’s “back story” and why you need to modify or showcase certain parts of your resume, it’s a good sign. If a recruiter just forwards on your resume, there isn’t much advocacy happening.

Build a Proactive Relationship
Even if a recruiter doesn’t succeed in placing you the first time, a responsible and proactive recruiter will keep you up to date on opportunities. It is also a good idea to keep the pipeline full. So as long as you’re not competing for the same positions, introduce quality recruiters to other quality candidates -- people you know and would recommend.

4 Ways to Work with a Recruiter in Your Job Search