Let’s be honest, working with recruiters to fill a vacant position can be one of our least favorite things to do, but at times, it’s necessary. I came out of the staffing industry so I should know. It’s not the easiest job in the world, having had experience as a recruiter and an account manager.
Those who spend every day helping people find their next opportunity deserve credit. There are a number of factors that will determine whether or not your experiences with recruiters will be beneficial. Here are a few of my personal tips on how to get the most value when working with recruiters:
Pay Attention to the Market
Obvious, right? Maybe not. The current national unemployment rate is 4.4%, as of August 2017 (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Among the 1,002 adults surveyed in a recent Pew Research study, only 37% knew what the current unemployment rate was.
This is where a client’s lack of knowledge can affect the success of their recruiter’s efforts. The strength or weakness of the job market can often dictate how fast, or slow, it can take to find the “perfect candidate.”
You might be able to find qualified candidates by the dozen if the market is weak. It can prove to be more difficult to find ideal candidates if the market is strong because those with the most desirable skill sets are likely already employed. Clients have to understand how the unemployment market works. You have to know what percentage of the population works with recruiters, what percentage applies for jobs on their own and which industries are “hot” right now.
Educate yourself, and don’t just throw away the materials that your recruiters provide for you. It’s not all “garbage,” and some of it can actually help speed along the process if you are really in a bind to hire someone ASAP.
Provide Valuable Feedback
Some of the best, professional compliments I have ever received were from recruiters in response to feedback I provided to them after screening candidates.
I like to provide feedback immediately after interviewing a candidate. This way my recruiter is able to assess and adapt to my expectations sooner. I recommend taking notes while you are speaking to your interviewee, and typing up a clear and organized breakdown of where the candidate is lacking. Example–communications skills and experience working hands-on with a technology (“knowledgeable in” vs. “expert experience”). Even consider mentioning their hobbies (being a “culture” fit is also an important factor).
A recruiter’s goal is to find the most effective way to serve their clients’ hiring needs. A client’s goal is to find the best candidate, at the best rate, in the least complicated way. A client should help guide their recruiters to make the process as smooth as possible for everyone. Start by having an initial phone call with the recruiter or account manager. Provide them with a thorough job description (include what are “musts” and what skills are considered “a bonus” to have). This early screening process will cover the basics of what a client is seeking in their next employee.
The purpose of giving feedback is to emphasize your highest priorities, while providing a summary that lists the pros and cons of each candidate who interviewed. It can help arm a recruiter with the information they need to improve their search efforts. Providing feedback in writing is also helpful, as it becomes a reference to which you can circle back.
Candidates deserve to know their strengths and weaknesses, so honest feedback is also important. Perhaps I’m a little biased having come from the staffing industry. I’ve had candidates ask questions far too often such as: “why didn’t I get a second interview?” or “where can I improve?” They will know what improvements they can make in order to find their next opportunity, or re-visit a new position within your company, with the feedback that you provide.
Be Reasonable When Negotiating
Most people who work with a staffing agency for the first time don’t realize how the process actually works. There are so many misconceptions. These range from “they take money out of candidates’ checks,” to “they always mark it up 100%.” Allow me to disabuse you, first timers, of these common misconceptions.
The size of the staffing firm you use can often govern how low you can negotiate to bring down their fees. Just like any other large enterprise, larger firms will likely have higher fees to cover their overhead costs.
However, larger firms may also have the flexibility to negotiate lower terms, as they may have excess resources to cover “losses” or “rock-bottom” deals. Many of these larger firms are also Microsoft Partners, and provide added incentives or promotions to local and regional channel partners.
Potential benefits of working with a start-up or smaller staffing company include lower overhead cost (smaller fees right off-the-bat) and a more personalized experience. However, the smaller the company, the smaller the manpower. You can extend the amount of time it takes to place a candidate by using a 1-10-person recruiting company.
Small companies may also be limited as far as their business capabilities. For example, they might not be able to offer different types of placement services (contract, contract-to-hire or perm ONLY). Perhaps they don’t have the bandwidth or technologies available to help track and monitor candidates, provide background checks at no-cost, or offer professional or technical evaluations.
The number of roles that you need to fill can sometimes help your bargaining power. It is important to understand that staffing is a quality vs. quantity industry. The more you ask, the less likely it is you will get everything you want. This becomes more pronounced if you are hiring multiple people for the same job, at the same time. You have to be willing to ‘give and take’ a little, as a client, when negotiating with some firms. This gives you the best chance at getting both a low fee and qualified candidates from which to choose.