Is Your Recruiter A Waste of Money?

Why should you work with a professional recruiter?  Well first, we have to define what a professional recruiter is and what they do.  Do you know what the recruiter you are working with actually does day to day to fill your position?  Have you asked them? Well, like everything else in life, not all recruiters are created equal.  In this article, I will talk to some of the basic value-adds I believe an authentic recruiter should bring to the table.  I will not be getting into the various recruiting models — that is a topic for another article.  Let’s just keep this as some basic things all good recruiters, regardless of the model, should be doing as a matter of practice.

Understanding your business problem

Starting at the beginning.  How much time is your recruiter willing to invest in understanding why your opportunity is available?  Do they get into the business problem you are looking to solve by hiring or do they just gloss over it?  Are they content with “he or she has an opening” and switch immediately into “order taking” mode?  (One of my favorite mentors in this business coined that phrase.) By “order taking”, I mean just covering what the job description says you are looking for.  A good recruiter will spend a significant amount of time trying to understand the business case for hiring.  Hiring a new employee, in some cases can be a $200,000 investment, taking into account candidate salary, benefits associated to the candidate, manager and staff interview time, administrative staff time, diminished production time due to the investment in interviewing, and potentially an agency fee.  The decision to hire should not be taken lightly.  Ensure your recruiter takes the time to understand what business problem will be solved by the hire.

Candidate Identification

What does your recruiter do to find his or her candidates?  How upset would you be if you hired someone and paid a $23,000 fee to an agency then found out they found your new hire on a pay site that you had access to and could have found on your own?  A true recruiter will spend time with you to develop a profile to determine what the best fitting applicant should “look like.”  For example, will they be working autonomously or as part of a team? These are two completely different profiles.  Often the best candidates out there are still employed.  Although there is a 9.7% unemployment rate the top talent you are looking for likely does not fall into to that number.  The very best people are working, or are back to work quickly.  If you want the BEST people you want you be able to find and engage with them. A good recruiter will face that challenge head on for you by recruiting that top talent not sourcing job boards.

Employment Branding

How will a recruiter sell your opportunity and company?  Will they be passionate about your position?  A good recruiter is an extension of your marketing efforts.  A good recruiter, if they never worked with your company before, will want to talk with marketing so they understand the best way to sell the company.  A good recruiter will want to become a business partner with you.  The recruiter in some cases may be the first introduction a candidate has to your company — a weighty responsibility.  A bad recruiter can have a toxic effect on your company’s recruiting effort.  A candidate’s experience with your recruiter and the hiring process will influence their perception of how the company treats its employees.  A bad recruiting experience, I can assure you, will get much more buzz in the applicant’s network than a good one.  A bad candidate experience will taint a majority of people that are in his or her network, as well as potentially reach people a couple of rings out who may get word of the poor experience.  What are people saying in the market about your company’s recruiting experience?

Interview and Selection Efficiency

Many managers can’t find the right person because their interview and selection process is a turn off to the best and most highly desirable people.  Top talent does not want to have to jump through hoops to make a career change.  A good recruiter is a valuable resource in helping you transition a candidate through the interview process to a hire.  Is your interview process such that it will effectively balance establishing a candidate’s qualifications and profile while remaining efficient?  Many companies have a non-strategic “process” established whereby candidates may see inefficiencies in regard to assessments, four rounds of interviews with ten people all asking the same twenty questions all with veto power, in essence a disqualification focused interview process.  A good recruiter can help you define an efficient interview and selection process. This is a big one for me because a good recruiter can add so much value in this area. Unfortunately, this where a majority of managers refuse to take guidance.  Hiring is most likely not the core function of the line managers charged with hiring for their departments, so their experience and/or knowledge of latest trends, etc. may be limited.  A good recruiter will be involved in hiring scores of people in a given year.  Who do you think will have more experience in efficient hiring?  Managers are hired because they are good at their core business function. If I want to know how to code, I will come to you, if you want to staff, trust the person that does it for a living. Unless that core business function is staffing, put the ego aside and take some friendly advice.  That is part of the value we can add to the process. We are of course still speaking about a professional recruiter.

Great Expectations

For a number of hiring managers the management of candidate expectation is a foreign concept.  This is where most candidates are lost. The “great unknowns” — don’t know how long it will take for the next interview, how long will it take to make a decision, what has to happen to select a candidate, how long will it take to get an offer, how much will the offer be —  can lead to a quick exit for top candidates.  Uncertainty will cause insecurity and questions. It takes a lot of time and skill to keep a candidate interested.  Think about this fact.  The absolute most interest and motivation a candidate will have in your position is while they are interviewing with you.  The very second they walk out of your door that interest begins to wane.  A good recruiter will handle this for you.  If the recruiter is not asking YOU these questions to begin with, how can they possibly be managing a candidate’s expectations?  Communication is key. The best talent is successfully hired-and lost – based on the effectiveness of the communication during the interview and selection process.

Deliver the goods

You were lucky enough to find your man Flint.  (That’s an old school reference.)  The selection process is complete.  So we’re done, right? Not so much. You must not take it for granted that the process ends at the handshake.  Emotions run high at the offer and notice period.  One manager is going to get a new hire.  An employee has to give notice – that means looking their manager in the eye and saying essentially, “you were not good enough to keep me.”  One manager is going to lose an employee.  Perhaps your selected employee is having second thoughts, getting nostalgic and feeling some uncertainty surrounding leaving their comfortable job for the unknown.  When they give notice assume there is going to be a counter offer.  They can come in many forms and at many different times – counteroffers do not necessarily happen at the time notice is given.  Don’t be lulled by the candidate who says, “Oh, I would never take a counter offer ” or “my company never makes counter offers.”  You have to test it with a scenario.  What does your recruiter systematically do to ensure the candidate you selected will be delivered?  What does your recruiter do to manage the candidate through the notice period when all of his or her friends are trying to convince them to stay?  There are easy ways to avoid candidate loss after the selection is made.  Make sure this is being covered by your recruiter or you may be back to the beginning of the whole process.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, not all recruiters are created equal. If you are not satisfied with the service you are getting, you have many options.  Don’t settle.


One response to “Is Your Recruiter A Waste of Money?

  1. You have very valid comments and observations about Recruitment Professionals. As I work with business owners to build companies with human capital and I specialize in coaching / mentoring Recruitment Professionals. This gives me a unique advantage point to witness first hand what can be gained and lost from both sides of these relationships. You have been able to demonstrate the value and identified the pitfalls accurately.

    The one additional point about working with Recruitment Professionals as a business owner / hiring Manager, when you hire a new person into your organization that individual affects you net profit by a minimum of 10%. If the Recruitment Professional has done their job and found you the right person they have increased your net profit by a minimum of 10%. If they have found you the wrong person, again they have affected your business a minimum of 10% but this time to the Negative.

    If your Recruiting Partner doesn’t understand this concept walk them to the door. If you cannot find a partner that does understand this concept the alternative is to hire a Corporate Headhunter at a quarter the fee an agency will charge you. Not a Corporate Recruiter who will shuffle paper and rely on job boards but a true Corporate Headhunter that will become your hired gun. Headhunters will have their own networks and tools, they are driven to keep agencies out and find you only the best talent.

    Holding the Recruitment Industry to a higher standard will force the bad agencies out and the good ones to constantly be striving to further become your true business partner. Given the opportunity a great Recruiting Partner can keep your organization moving in the right direction with the right individuals.

    Rebecca B. Sargeant
    President / Recruiting Coach
    RBS Staffing Consultants
    Telephone: 905-627-5060

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