Talent Acquisition

Can You Learn to Love a Recruiter?

The word “Recruiter” generally stirs up lots of emotion and opinions in people – we are the people the professional world loves to hate! But can we recruiters actually be of value to you, the client? Can we become a trusted business partner?

Personally, I expect that some clients will like us, and some won’t. That some clients will have had a bad experience, think we call up too much and usually at the wrong time, they think our fee’s are too high and that we add no real value, and you know what they are probably right to think that. But then again, most of my clients say just the opposite.

I have been in the industry for 15 years and have worked with some exceptional recruiters, and just as many pretty average ones, there are lots of them out there so you have to pick your recruiter wisely.

So when you next use a recruiter, how can you make sure it is a positive and valuable experience?  That it’s a process that gives value for money and provides an exceptional outcome? That outcome being a fantastic new employee who will serve you and your company well and be a great asset for years to come.

Well that really is up to you and how you engage with the recruiter. That sounds rather simple doesn’t it? Well let’s look at a few simple pointers, which hopefully will help you along the way:

1) Decide on what you want to hire:

Really? Of course you know what you want to hire, don’t you?

Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, clients often don’t know what they want when hiring. They just want “another Dave to replace him before he leaves next month” or a “CA qualified Finance Manager with great communication skills”…. This is cause for guesswork on the part of the recruiter, and they will do just that, wasting everyone’s time, especially yours!

A detailed job specification & description is so valuable to a recruiter and of course the candidate. If you are the hiring manager, you should write this, HR will have a template but don’t rely on just that, you should be the one who thinks about the finer detail in advance of briefing recruiters. Giving clear instruction around what you are looking for will make it so much more of a smooth process.

READ MORE: Hiring Managers: Don’t Try to Find the Perfect Employee!

2) Select your recruiters wisely:

Does your company have a list of Preferred Suppliers to tap in to? If so, are they any good? Were they selected on price or ability? If price, then beware!…. Are they a specialist in your area of expertise or generalists across all lines of business?

The larger recruitment firms tend be a little cheaper and they are usually generalists who can recruit every role within your company, but often this will dilute the expertise of the recruiter.

Smaller ‘boutique’ firms will be specialists within your professional sector and will understand your technical requirements, they will have a wider reach in to your specific market and should be able to source the best talent, but, they may cost you a little more for the pleasure.

Establish how long the individual recruiter has personally been recruiting in your sector in the local market, this will be a clear guide to their capability and reach.

3) Don’t open the role up to every recruiter who calls you:

If you do this then you are likely to find yourself in a world of pain, the phone will ring incessantly, your inbox will be flooded with CVs and it will not be a pleasurable experience. Use 2 or 3 recruiters maximum, or if you are really confident of the recruiter’s capability, just use one Consultant on the assignment. You will be amazed by the level of input you will get from an ‘exclusive’ arrangement.

4) Meet the recruiters:

Seems logical right? But often clients just don’t have time to meet. Why do we want to meet you? It’s not because we like coffee or want to be your new BFF.

I will let you in to a secret: recruiters don’t like wasting their own time, or yours, or their candidates. You will get so much more from a recruiter if you invest 30-45 minutes with them talking about your ideal candidate, how you like to recruit and how you envisage the process going. They should then tailor the process to suit you and your needs.

5) Agree terms up front:

Do it at the start of the process – not the end when you want to make an offer to a candidate. The recruitment fees, the payment terms, and the guarantee period are the 3 most important things to understand and agree up front. Expect that different firms will offer different terms for a different level of service – you wouldn’t expect to pay Holden prices in a Mercedes dealership, would you? They offer the same thing, cars, but a very different product altogether.

If price is your main driver then be pragmatic on what you expect from your recruiter: “Buy Cheap, Buy Twice” is a bad situation for everyone concerned.

6) Set out your timescales:

Work out exactly when you want the person to start, so after your briefing, give the recruiter a week or so to source candidates, assume 2 or 3 rounds of interviews over a couple of weeks, with referencing too and factor in 4 weeks notice for the chosen candidate to leave their employment, and there you have it, a timetable of events.

Put these in your diary, give the recruiters a couple of dates/times for interviews and instruct them to come up with the best candidates in the market (not just those ‘on the market’, who have applied on Seek) this is the ultimate carrot for any recruiter. They know you are serious about hiring, they will move mountains to find you the best guy or girl.

7) Stick to your plan:

Once all of this is agreed and in place, stick to it, simple:

  • Don’t change the brief (unless you really have to).
  • Don’t put the process to one side while you start another project.
  • Always give feedback to the recruiter on CVs, interviews and references – do this within a day or so, candidates need to know what is happening and will think badly of your company if they hear nothing, no news or feedback can be damaging to your brand.

Remember, a good recruiter will represent your business in a positive way, they will ‘sell’ the opportunity to a candidate and get their buy in to you and your team before they potentially join your company.

The cost of a bad hire is immeasurable, the negative impact to the team and business is just awful. But if you get it right, and hire the best possible person out there to come and join you, who adds value, who is an asset and raises performance, surely this is money well spent at twice the price? A great recruiter will help you do this, and then you will love us again!

Author: Paul Simms is an executive recruiter with 15 years of experience across the Australian and UK markets. He is the founder of Wright Executive, a specialist business within the Accounting and Professional Services sector.

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