Hiring Leaders: Should You Engage an External Recruiter for Your Search?

By Shana Marr

Photo by Anna Tarazevich on Pexels.com

Hiring the right person (or wrong person) can have a huge impact on your business.  While unemployment is no longer at the unprecedented lows we saw earlier this year, competition for good talent is still at an all-time high… and your business and employee morale can suffer the longer a position sits vacant.

So what options do leaders have to expedite the hiring process? Your best bets are referrals, your internal talent acquisition team (if you have one) and an external recruiter.

Why an external recruiter? They can be a great resource to help you find the right match within a much quicker timeframe than if you used your own efforts alone.  And in the end, this can save you both time and money.

Have you worked with recruiters before and feel you didn’t get the best level of service? 

If you’re engaging more than one recruiter for your searches, there’s a good chance you aren’t getting the best out of any of them.  So how do you get a higher level of service? 

Consider engaging only one recruiter. Recruiters are going to put forth much more time and effort if they know they are likely to get compensated for their efforts. 

Would you want to work a multitude of hours on something if there was only a small chance you’d actually get paid?  Engaging only one recruiter is called an exclusive agreement and many times it even offers a discounted fee.  And let’s be honest, it can actually be more time-consuming for hiring leaders if they’re partnering with too many people anyway.  Working with only one recruiter can offer a lower fee, less work for you and a much better experience for everyone!

Below are some more helpful tips for working with an external recruiter. 

What Are the Benefits of Working with a Recruiter?

  1. External recruiters specialize in finding passive candidates – according to a recent study from LinkedIn, 70% of job seekers are passive.  While these candidates aren’t actively seeking opportunities (meaning they won’t apply to a job posting), they are open to hearing about roles that offer them something their current role may not. 
  2. They can work in conjunction with your own hiring resources – for contingent searches, you don’t pay the recruiter anything unless you hire their candidate.  With this being the case, you really have nothing to lose by engaging an external recruiter to find candidates while your internal team is also conducting the search.
  3. They offer guidance and counsel – remember, your recruiter is in the business of hiring.  They do this all day/every day.  They can tell you if you have unrealistic expectations for the salary you’re offering or if the hiring process will take longer than your target date. 
  4. They can work on confidential searches – if a search is confidential, it likely cannot be posted or advertised.  A good recruiter is accustomed to these types of searches and knows how to handle it with care.
  5. They have tools you may not have access to – there’s little reason for most hiring leaders to pay the steep fee for LinkedIn Recruiter, Indeed resume search or other specialized recruiting tools.  These can be very expensive and really add up.  If hiring is not your full-time job, it’s not likely they’re worth the cost (and most people wouldn’t know how to utilize them to their optimum level anyway).
  6. They’re well-networked – a respectable recruiter knows people who know people.  Many even offer their candidates referral fees if they recommend someone for one of their openings.
  7. You’re able to focus on what you’re best at – recruiting takes a lot of time and that will take you away from your own job. Your time is valuable – so by outsourcing this function, you’re actually saving the company money!

How to Choose a Recruiter

  1. How much experience do they have? It’s not that a new recruiter can’t be successful in a search, but just like with anything else in life, you’re going to feel much more assured with someone who has the wisdom that only comes with experience
  2. Are they specialized in a particular area? It’s very difficult to be all things to all people.  Recruiters who are focused on a niche are typically much more knowledgeable in that area and do not suffer from being spread too thin
  3. Can you trust them to follow through? A good recruiter won’t overpromise and underdeliver. If they say they will do something, they do it (or at minimum, they reach out to you with a good reason as to why they can’t meet that deliverable in the originally set timeframe).
  4. Are they well-networked?  The best recruiters know people – that’s really the core of their job.
  5. Do they listen to your needs? This will be very apparent in the candidates they present.

When to Engage a Recruiter

  1. If a role was particularly difficult to fill the last time the search was conducted, you should consider engaging a recruiter as soon as you’re aware you have a need.  This may be weeks or even months prior to the position vacancy.
  2. Confidential searches – these cannot be posted or advertised and an external recruiter is very savvy with this type of search. 
  3. If the position is imperative for your business to operate effectively (or is income producing), you should consider using an external recruiter in addition to your internal resources.    
  4. If a vacancy is causing your current employees to pick up the slack
  5. For all openings – many hiring leaders find that the benefits of a partnering with an external recruiter make it worth engaging them on every opening.  (Keeping in mind that for contingent searches they won’t pay anything if they don’t select the recruiter’s candidate)

What Should You Expect?

  1. Your recruiter should not send you candidates who are not vetted, are outside of your salary range (unless they inform you of this upon presenting), or who are not qualified.  Basically, they are not a resume service and therefore, they shouldn’t just send you candidates to see what sticks
  2. They should be a consultant – This is part of the service and can be extremely helpful to you in making decisions.  For example, they may recommend you go back to HR to ask for a higher salary or take off one of your position requirements because the salary and job description don’t match.  They can also give you an idea of a reasonable timeline for filling – if it is longer than you initially thought, you may choose to hire an interim resource so you can take your time hiring.  Advice and counsel is a huge benefit of working with a recruiter so take advantage of it!
  3. They should set clear expectations – you should know when to expect to start receiving candidates from them.  Depending on the search, this could be the day you tell them about the role.  However, keep in mind the recruiter needs time to vet the candidate and confirm interest in your opening.  Many times, the candidate is currently working so they may not be able to discuss the role with the recruiter immediately.  Also, to find and engage passive candidates, this may take a little time as well.  Your recruiter should be able to give you a reasonable timeline for what to expect from them and when

What Your Recruiter Needs from You:

  1. Feedback on why you decide to pass on a candidate they present – a recruiter needs to understand why the candidate isn’t moving forward so they don’t waste your time sending resumes of those that wouldn’t interest you.  A little of your time now saves a lot of your time later!
  2. More than a job description – while it is super helpful and a great start, we all know there is a lot more to a role than what is listed in the description.  Help your recruiter be the best resource they can be by telling them what is not listed in the requirements. Why is the position open?  Why did the last person not work out?  What are the most needed requirements and which are just “nice to haves”?  What type of personalities thrive in your business?  What percentage of time will the position focus on each of the job duties?  The answers to these questions will really help narrow down the search.    
  3. Help your recruiter out by giving them selling points they can use when talking about the role –   Does your company offer benefits that are over and above what is typical in your industry?  What are the growth opportunities in the department or company?  The market for good people is still VERY competitive.  You don’t want to miss out on quality candidates just because you didn’t give the recruiter enough information to properly sell the role.
  4. Remember – company culture is very important – Be as open about this as possible – what’s the team like?  Does your company promote from within?  Is there a gym or café onsite? (As a sidenote, your recruiter may ask to visit your office location.  If at all possible, take them up on this.  Because a job opening may come up when you least expect it, if you plan to work with the recruiter on your next opening, allow them to schedule a visit even when they aren’t yet engaged in a search.  This way they’ll be ready to go as soon as you have an opening).
  5. Communicate!!!  Your recruiter is working hard on your search.  Please don’t just “sit” on candidates they present as this can reflect very poorly on them.  The recruiter is trying to keep these candidates warm once presented.  This takes a lot of time and continuing to reach out to the same candidate multiple times with the message “no feedback yet” gets very old fast. 

A recruiter is considered a partner and in order for the partnership to be successful, both sides need to be actively engaged.  Only engage recruiters you trust and whose opinion you value.  Consider working with them on an exclusive basis.  And help them help you…  The more information and feedback you give them, the better!  Happy hiring!

I specialize in Finance/Accounting recruiting in the Atlanta and surrounding areas. Feel free to reach out to me anytime if you need help with a search – smarr@argpeople.com linkedin.com/in/shanamarr

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: