Employer Branding

When to Hire a Recruiter

Most of the time, to fill most jobs, you don’t need the help of a recruiter. That’s a bold statement coming from someone who recruits candidates for a living, but it’s true. And it’s not something every recruiter is willing to admit.

Right now you have access to the job sites, social media, networking and other recruiting tactics necessary to find great candidates. In fact, I’d estimate an outside recruiter isn’t needed in up to 80 percent of new hires.

Within that small margin of 20 percent, however, is where you need the help of a recruiter. Those instances most often occur when one (or any combination) of three key factors are at play:

  1. When there’s scarcity in the marketplace for the position.
  2. When the position is critical, and you need to identify A players.
  3. When time is not on your side.

Scarcity in the marketplace

Right now, the ratio of unemployed Americans to open jobs is 1.4 to one. That means—across the board—there are only 1.4 unemployed job seekers in need of your open position (compared to nearly seven to one during the last recession 2009). Those aren’t terrific odds, from an employer’s perspective. Many skilled positions are even harder to fill than the national average including those in engineering, technology, education, and medical fields.

For example, in the tech field, the amount of data analysis and data mining jobs has grown nearly 40 percent in the past two years with every large player in every industry—from Macy’s to State Farm—in dire need. Positions for UX designers and software developers with certain coding language skills (like Swift for IOS programming and Ruby on Rails for robust websites) remain woefully unfilled.

When competition is fierce, bringing in a knowledgeable recruiter can be your key to winning over top talent when others can’t. A recruiting partner can bring value by recruiting passive candidates (those who aren’t actively looking for a new job) and by helping to communicate things like company culture, which is essential when recruiting top talent.

These days, the best recruiting firms also use data and analytics—even artificial intelligence (AI)—to pinpoint precisely the best way to find and recruit exactly who you need—and to reproduce those results time and time again, even when talent is hard to find.

According to Data Scientist Ji-A Min:

The majority of HR leaders predict AI will be a regular part of their workflow within the next five years. This large-scale adoption of AI and automation will require recruiter re-skilling to adapt to the new workplace.

While these skills are critical when it comes to attracting hard-to-attract talent, it’s not something most hiring managers are trained on or have the time to master. A recruiting partner can fill this need.

A need for top performers

There’s rarely a time in which top performers aren’t the most ideal candidates. But, in some positions, hiring a top performer from the get-go is absolutely critical for success. While this is obviously true for executive positions, it can also be true for highly skilled positions like software developers and even entry-level positions like cashiers or light manufacturing and warehouse workers.

Years ago, Dr. Brad Smart coined the concept of an A player as part of his Topgrading methodology of hiring top performers. Topgrading is designed to create the highest quality workforce by ensuring those charged with talent acquisition and management identify, hire, promote, and retain A players in the organization at every salary level. The methodology has been proven to work well but it can take years of training to get right.

For many job openings, hiring a B player who has the potential to be an A player in the future is a great find. But, for roles that need A players from day one, it’s often best to work with a recruiting partner who understands how to implement this type of methodology without cutting corners. It can be frightening and frustrating to pursue only one out of every 10 top candidates who are identified for your most critical positions (a major practice when it comes to Topgrading), but it’s also important in order to find the right fit. Working with a recruiting partner to help cull the field for you can save a lot of headaches…and heartaches.

Time is not your friend

Currently, the average time to hire is 28 days. Listing, screening, interviewing, testing, onboarding…these each add a significant amount of time to the process. For certain positions, you may not have an entire month to search for the right candidate. Perhaps you’re ramping up your call center for a new launch, or you’ve found yourself with a vacant key position at an inopportune time. Or maybe you just simply have too much on your plate.

Many internal reasons can make hiring slow less than favorable, but there are outside factors at play as well. Remember those top performers you’re hoping to reach? Research indicates that the top 10 percent of candidates (the A players) are usually gone from the marketplace within 10 days. Take your time, and you’ll lose out.

While that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to decide on a new hire in less than two weeks, it does mean that you need to consistently engage your candidates throughout the process so that they stay interested and invested. A recruiting partner can help you do that.

A recruiting partner can also help expedite the process in several ways—from prescreening, to accessing an existing candidate pipeline, to using data-driven methodologies that can help you find candidates and make decisions on your new hires faster.

You may be the best-of-the-best among hiring managers but, in some situations, that may not be enough. While enlisting the help of an outside recruiter may be overkill for some positions, take a good, hard look at situations in which forces out of your control could sabotage your efforts. These forces—like scarcity of candidates, the critical nature of the position, and the lack of time and resources at your fingertips—can be a recipe for disaster unless you bring in the right help at the right time

About the author: Nad Elias is founder and CEO of recruitAbility, a recruiting and retention firm based in Austin, TX. With over 15+ years working in the search and recruiting industry, Nad is recognized as one of the top 50 recruiters in Texas. 

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