Talent is the most important, tricky, valuable, tenuous, and invigorating part of every company's DNA. Without the right people, a company cannot perform, grow, innovate, or succeed. Using external recruiters can be an effective way to reach top talent as part of a broader recruitment program. However, before jumping into such a relationship, it's important to do a little homework and ask the right questions to ensure you and your company will get the most out of working with recruiters.
The anatomy of a good recruiter relationship.
Are you uncertain about what to expect from your recruiter or what you should be doing on your side of the table? An effective relationship should be more than your recruiter sending resumes for your review. The best recruiters not only source talent, but act as a consultant throughout the process by alerting you of important hiring trends based on their years of experience and exposure to a variety of companies. But building a good relationship is a two-way street and there are actions both you and your recruiter need to take to ensure you're getting the most out of your partnership.
Here are the top five things you should be looking for in a good recruiter:
- Access to passive candidates. There are a wide range of outlets hiring managers can use to get the word out about their job openings - online job boards, traditional classified ads, internal job postings, and more. External recruiters go beyond these tactics. Since they are constantly looking for talent, they've got an arsenal of candidates they've met with or may have placed in the past who they can immediately tap into once a job opening comes their way. While traditional job boards typically will only attract active job seekers, recruiters have access to those passive job seekers who may not be posting their resumes or answering ads, but are open to hearing about a potential opening if contacted and it's a good fit. The best recruiters have an immediate mental rolodex of candidates like this who may not otherwise hear of your opportunity and may actually be a perfect fit.
- Customized talent solutions. Finding the right candidate is more than just matching skills and experience - it is often equally important to find a candidate who is the right cultural fit. The best recruiters will spend time getting to understand your organization and what your team is looking for in a co-worker. While this involves a time investment on your part, it can significantly reduce the amount of resumes you'll review and interviews you'll conduct before making the right hiring decision.
- Effective candidate screening. Recruiters should not be sending you every candidate in their database. It is part of their job to interview and coach candidates before they enter your office so that they're well-informed about the position they're interviewing for and actually possess the skills that make them a viable candidate. Good recruiters know their candidates just as well as they know their clients, and aren't sending people your way unless they meet the agreed upon criteria. This approach will save you time and help you make a hiring decision more efficiently.
- Proactive consulting. Recruiters live and breathe the job market, making them experts on items like salaries, job descriptions, benefits, etc. They should proactively provide their advice on how to make open positions more marketable or easier to fill based on their knowledge of what's happening in the marketplace and the feedback they are constantly receiving from job seekers in your industry.
- Concern for your time. The right recruiter should always be conscious of not wasting your time. After interviews, it's important for you and your recruiter to debrief. Be candid and honest so that, in the future, they can avoid sending over candidates that don't fit your needs or candidate profile. Once that feedback is discussed, a good recruiter will adjust the types of job seekers they are recommending for interviews and, with each candidate, will get closer to what you're seeking. This sort of consultative approach will decrease the amount of time you invest in the job search.
Finding the right fit.
Not all recruiters are alike - service providers vary from small to large and generalists to specialists. With that in mind, there are some important questions you should ask a potential recruiter to ensure your values, goals and priorities will match theirs.
- How large is your organization and how many clients do you have?
- How many candidates do you have registered with your firm at any given time?
- How many years have you been working as a recruiter?
- What type of companies do you usually work with?
- What is your level of expertise in my industry?
- How long does it usually take you to fill positions like these?
- Where do you find most of your candidates?
- What sorts of hiring trends are you currently seeing in my industry?
- How long have you worked with most of your clients?
- Do any of your candidates immediately come to mind as a good fit?
- Approximately how many open positions are you working on at any given time?
- How will you administer the interview process?
- Typically, what percentage of the candidates you interview do you send to your clients?
- What are your temporary employee retention rates and satisfaction scores?
- What are your client satisfaction scores?
Here are the top five things you should be doing to ensure your partnership is successful:
- Provide accurate and complete job descriptions. It shouldn't be longer than a resume, but should be in a format that is clear and concise. Take the time to discuss the job description in detail and answer your recruiter's questions. This will help them narrow their search and save you from interviewing the wrong candidates.
- Be responsive. Returning your recruiter's calls, evaluating resumes sent over in a timely manner, and arranging interviews should be a priority. Treat the process like you're buying a house: if you don't make an offer quickly, you may lose it. The quicker you are in getting back to your recruiter, the quicker you'll get someone on board and working!
- Be honest and provide immediate feedback. There is no harm in letting a recruiter know that a candidate they sent over for an interview was not qualified for the position or that a resume didn't fit the job description. Always keep in mind that they are there to help you and make the search process easier - the only way they can do that is if you're honest and candid in your feedback. Being straightforward with them will help narrow their recruiting efforts.
- Always consider their advice. While your recruiter may not always find you the right candidate and you may not always agree with their suggestions, they are experts in the process. Be open to their ideas about non-traditional candidates or changing benefits packages. They know what your competitors are offering and what candidates are looking for, so their advice can be very valuable.
- Manage expectations. Be realistic in the salary requirements based on the job description. Tell your recruiter the exact range you're looking for so they don't send you a candidate you love who is out of your salary range.
As you look to a recruiter for their expertise and ability to find talent, it's important to keep in mind that not all of the work and responsibility is on them. By being engaged, informed and actively managing the process, you will make the recruiter's job - finding the right person for you - much easier.