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3 Facts You Must Know About Recruiters, Before You Use One

 3 Facts You Must Know About Recruiters, Before You Use One

Recruiting and hiring great talent is crucial to any business.  Whether you are new or growing, you may have already felt the pain of the recruiting process.  How do you squeeze in recruiting when you are busy with the day to day of your business?  How do you fill a critical need for another manager, customer service rep, etc., when you don’t have the resources to assist you to identify and screen good talent?  That’s often where recruiters come in.

Recruiters, headhunters, talent acquisition specialist, or whatever you would like to call them, have become an important part of the hiring process for many companies large and small.  Many companies have come to rely on recruiters to fill critical positions at all levels and identify hidden talent that may never have applied to their company. 

I have a soft spot for recruiters and the industry since I spent 6 years as a successful headhunter/recruiter when I first came out of college.  However, I also have become very critical of recruiters after I left the industry, spending almost 20 years on the "other side" as a hiring manager in various leadership and executive roles. 

I have worked with and known many great recruiters, and also many terrible ones. Before you make a decision to invest in a recruiter, you should understand some basic truths about recruiters.  Every business owner or hiring manager must know some fundamental truths about recruiters. Here are three facts you must know about recruiters, before you use one.

Fact Number one:  Recruiters are salespeople.  

Do not get recruiters confused with human resources. A recruiter is a salesperson that makes commission by placing a candidate with your agency.  Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing.  You simply need to understand how recruiters work and how they tick.  Like any salesperson, a recruiter will find the easiest and fastest path to money.  This does not mean a recruiter will do anything unethical.  It doesn't even mean that you have to pay the highest fees to get the recruiter's attention.  You just have to understand that a good recruiter (notice I said "good" recruiter) evaluates clients the same way they evaluate candidates.  They ask three simple questions:

  1. Are you easy to work with?  Simply put, are you a good partner, or do you treat recruiters like a vendor?  Don't get me wrong; it may take time to build up a partnership with a good recruiter.  A recruiter has to prove him/herself in order to help foster this relationship.  


Back when I was in the recruiting industry, I was able to build some great relationships with my clients over the years.  I got to a point where I didn't need to send a resume to set up an interview.  That was the level of trust and relationship my clients had with me.  


On the flip side, I quickly got rid of recruiters when I was a hiring manager.  I fired recruiters that didn't even bother to call me to get feedback or provide feedback after I had interviewed one of their candidates.  

Simply put, how you communicate, respond, and treat the recruiter, will dramatically affect your results.  Just like how you should move away from bad recruiters, good recruiters will move away from you if you aren’t easy to work with.  Here are a couple of things to think about.

  1. Are you urgently looking to hire someone or just “browsing”?  Nothing turns off a recruiter more than a client who is not serious about hiring.  Remember, most recruiters don’t get paid until they place a candidate.  They spend quite a bit of time recruiting and screening for “free” with the risk that a placement may not be made.  Good recruiters aren’t afraid of tough searches, but they will walk away from someone who isn’t serious that waste their time.

  2. Are you realistic about the candidate you are looking for?  For example, if a company wants someone with 20 years of industry experience but pays an entry-level salary, then this company is obviously not realistic.  Although the example may seem far-fetched, it actually happens quite often.  Many hiring mangers use a recruiter to find and do the impossible.  However, no matter how great a recruiter is, he/she cannot perform miracles if that person does not exist, or if the position and compensation does not match the person’s experience.  

Remember, if you are a recruiter and you can spend 30 hours recruiting for a position that has a 90% probably of making a placement vs. a 5% probability, where would you spend your time?

Fact Number Two:  They are not responsible for your bad hires. 

Many companies blame recruiters for hires that don’t work out.  They blame the recruiter for the “bad hire” that wasted their time and money.  The fact of the matter is recruiters simply bring talent to the door.  Their job is to find the best candidates available for the position, and bring them to you.  It’s the job of the hiring manager to interview and select the best candidate for the job.  It’s the job of the hiring manager and the company to properly onboard, train and develop a new hire.  No placement guarantee can protect the company from bad hiring decisions. 

Regardless of the business’s size, a good interview and selection process must be in place.  Unfortunately, most companies simply do not put the time, training, and resources into the interviewing process.  Many hiring managers are simply not trained to interview and assess candidates properly.  Therefore, they end up spending more money than they should with recruiters to replace bad hires 6 months down the road, or end up blaming recruiters for a bad hire.  Bottom line, recruiters are not responsible for your bad hiring decisions. 

In a upcoming workshop series, “Hire4Excellence: 5 Steps to Identify, Attract and Select Top Talent,” I will dive deeper into the selection process to help you find the right hire for your company. This series will be available inside of AAPLN's member's only area.


Fact Number Three:  Refer to facts one and two

By understanding the two simple facts about a recruiter, your company can better utilize a recruiting firm and reduce the frustration on both sides.  Remember, a recruiter can be a great tool for your hiring process.  You can focus other critical tasks while the recruiter focuses on acquiring and presenting the right candidates to you.  They can help you get access to candidates that you may not have.  Like any partners though, it may take several tries to find the best ones.  

However, regardless of how great or a poor recruiter is, an effective interview and hiring process must in place, regardless of the size of the organization.  If hiring managers are not trained and do not have the knowledge to properly interview and select the right candidates, it won’t matter how great the recruiter is or how great the candidates are coming in the door.  Time, money and energy must be invested to help hiring managers gain the tools and knowledge to succeed.  

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