When Is It Time To Hire a Recruiter?


Get Shift Done: Management

It’s a decision every business has to make: Should you bring in a recruiter to help you find job candidates, or do it yourself? There’s no single answer that is right for everyone. Let’s assume, though, that you’re charged with building a development or technical staff for a new project or company. What special issues have an impact on your decision on hiring your staff?

When you hire for professional positions, you’ll likely hear the siren call of professional employment recruiters, especially if those positions are in areas of high demand with a limited candidate pool. You can turn over large pieces of the hiring process to the recruiter, and step in for interviews of the most qualified candidates. Of course, in return for this help, you also turn over a significant percentage of the new employee’s first-year salary.

How can you decide whether turning to a recruiter is the right strategy for you and your talent search? Start with an understanding of what a recruiter can actually do.

What does a recruiter really do for you?

Reach a deeper and wider pool of candidates. A good recruiter has access to pools of potential candidates that they can reach with targeted messages.

Sort through a massive number of resumes. For some positions, it may be a challenge to read through hundreds or thousands of applications to find the one candidate who best suits your needs. The recruiter can perform at least the first level of triage.

Develop qualifications that match your criteria. If hiring people isn’t a regular part of your job, you may not be sure just what your “help wanted” ad should say. A recruiter can develop a set of criteria from your job requirements, then build the list of qualifications that goes into the ad. Since the right words matter, this can make an enormous difference in both the quantity and quality of responses you receive.

Give you a reality check. It’s possible that your combination of requirements, or requirements and compensation, is the reason for your unsuccessful search. A good recruiter tells you where your problems lie and provides suggestions on how to fix them.

Seriously consider turning to a recruiter to fill a position on your staff when:

You haven’t found candidates who are qualified and suitable. If you have a serious need for talent, have tried all the job ads you know how to run, and still haven’t been able to land a new employee, then it’s time to consider turning to a professional.

You need employees with common skills and have been buried under mountains of resumes. Depending on your business location, you may find that your ads have been met with scores of resumes “fishing” for a job despite being a poor requirements match. Separating wheat from chaff takes time — time you may not have to give to the process.

You are going into new technology areas or need to expand your skill base, but aren’t clear about how to word your job ads. Professional recruiters know how to build ads and where to place them for greatest effect.

You’re in stealth mode. Sometimes you don’t want to advertise that your company is investing in a new tech area. A recruiter can approach candidates with more anonymity, at least in the first round of search.

You can afford it. Remember, you’re going to write a rather large check to the recruiter. Make sure that you have the budget before you sign the contract.

If at least two of these are true for you, then you should consider a recruiter. But be careful: Not all recruiters are created equally. You want to make sure that your recruiter will actually bring professional standards to the process rather than simply repeating what you’ve done (or worse). Get recommendations from peers. Check references. Get examples of their ads and ask hard questions about their process. The last thing you need is a recruiter who costs you time, money, and reputation when all are at a premium.

If none of these apply to you, then consider doing your own hiring. But be smart about the process. Learn from recruiters. Think about key words that help a candidate understand what you’re looking for and what you offer (in regard to both skills and culture, such as the effect of asking someone to be a “rock star”); consider how much experience a candidate really needs; let certifications do some of the winnowing for you; and decide on your criteria for allowing someone in for an interview. After that, it’s the interviewing process’s job to let you pick the best candidate.

Oh, and one more thing: Don’t get locked into one way of hiring and apply it to every position that must be filled. When you search for management positions, the equations change. When the search involves upper-level executives, they change again. Ask the questions for every search you conduct and respect the answers. You’ll find yourself applying the best method to the employee search, and reaping the best results in the end.

Photo credit: jamestruepenny via Visualhunt / CC BY


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