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Recruiters: Who Will Hit the Mark

A typical Recruiter will gladly take on any and every new vacancy that your company has come up. Is that in your best interest? Let's take a look.

For most, the term Recruiter is a catchall title for every professional in the Staffing & Recruiting industry, myself included. In truth, using the term Recruiter to characterize all in the business is a gross generalization similar to Doctor or Engineer. The differences between an Oncologist and a Pediatrician are obvious and well known. Not so in the world of Staffing & Recruiting. Whether it be a Recruiter's reluctance to be discerning or perhaps a simple lack of identity, most Recruiters will accept your opening with a smile and a handshake and be off to the races. The question is: are they appropriately oriented?

To aid in determining the suitability of your Recruiter, first consider the complexity of your vacancy. Here are some key considerations:

  • Are there ample candidates available in the market?

  • Is this a long-term position or is there some question surrounding duration of employment?

  • Will a simple, well-written job posting likely fill your position?

  • Do you anticipate the recruitment to be a long, drawn-out process requiring months of diligent attention?

  • Will the right candidate likely be a passive or active job seeker?

These characteristics (and countless others) help to determine the appropriate type of Recruiter for your need. Let's summarize what categories are available to you:

Internal Recruiters

The Staffing & Recruiting industry is well over 50 years old and, as one would expect, companies of all sizes have adopted their own internal recruitment practices. With the goal of curbing costs associated with external recruitment resources, salaried Recruiters or HR professionals assume the responsibility of filling your positions. Responsible for the hiring needs of the company as a whole, their focus is spread across the entirety of your organization. In working with your internal Recruiter you gain intimacy with your company and strong brand association, but be prepared to get in line. To maximize the return on investment many internal Recruiters manage dozens if not over one hundred hiring needs at any given time. Subject to OFFCCP and EEOC candidate screening criteria, much of their week is focused on sorting through the applicant pool collected by your Applicant Tracking System, taking away from identifying your passive candidate. You very likely have one or more of these folks within your company. Next time you encounter your Internal Recruiter, ask them how many positions they have on their list that day. You'll likely get an exasperated response.

Contract Houses

Carrying a contingent of contract or contract-to-hire employees on behalf of a client company is a wildly profitable business. Those agencies with the market focus and resources to carry a contract labor force bring tremendous value to companies that ramp up (and down) quickly, such as manufacturing and distribution centers, disaster response, temp & clerical, seasonal labor and so on. Their business model is designed to maintain immediate accessibility to a specific labor force. It is important to note that the agency providing these services caters to a specific market niche and may not be your best resource for recruitment activities outside of this specific arena.

Volume-Model Generalists

Most Recruiters have a little place in their heart for volume agencies because most started their career with one. These agencies specialize in cutting a swath in the market, ripe with an abundance of similar, repeatable positions by which they can achieve a high volume of candidate placements (with an equally large volume of client companies). Think of your own organization. Where volume exists are in the ‘doers’ of your organization- your technicians, programmers, engineers or scientists. Rarely rising above a mid-level specialty, volume agencies build a database of candidates to have on hand in the likely event a need will arise with you or your competition. The volume-model agency specializes in the quick-hit opportunity. Many will be able to fill a position in their wheelhouse within a week or two, but recruits requiring long, methodical searches are outside of volume model.

Targeted Search Contingency

Some vacancies are just plain difficult. Your posting yields no hits and your internal resources have come up empty, leaving you with a need for more horsepower. Targeted Search Recruiters are largely specialists in your specific field. Carrying a small number of clients and vacancies, these Recruiters are capable of spending the time to carry through the longer recruitment cycle needs and deliver. That said, they also charge a premium. Operating on contingency, many will prefer direct-hire (meaning no contract or contract to hire arrangements) and charge a mark-up of 20%-40% plus some smattering of other inclusions. A strong contingency recruiter can be an invaluable resource but take your time in selecting one. Putting your trust in unqualified hands can be costly.

(See Field Guide to Selecting a Recruiter @

Retained Search

Recruitment at the highest levels often requires significant up-front legwork and continuous collaboration between client and Recruiter. Often in retained search engagements the targeted candidate is highly sought after and the talent pool is quite limited. As such, an agency may require certain positions be taken on with a retainer (some agreed upon percentage of the expected fee to be collected at the onset of recruitment). A qualified retained search firm will have a variety of valuable deliverables and milestones you will receive as recruitment progresses. Target lists, summaries of activities and other key pieces of data should be presented at agreed-upon intervals. Retained searches can often take an extended and sophisticated recruitment cycle to fulfill. A healthy mix of patience and accountability is required for all parties to remain satisfied throughout the recruitment process.

Thinking back to my time as a Business Development Manager for a Fortune 500 Engineering Consultancy, every one of these Recruiter categories would play an important role in the staffing of the 100,000+ person company. From the front desk to the C suite, a Recruiter had a hand in placing nearly everyone. Understanding the range of available talent acquisition support only reinforces the importance of picking the right talent acquisition partner. Who will you partner with to support you in your next hiring venture?


About the Author:

Jared Smith is the Founder of Reliance Workforce, LLC, a targeted search firm specializing in executive and strategic search. His experience spans business development, executive consultancy and high-level recruitment for multiple Fortune 500 companies. He currently resides in Denver, CO.

#Recruiter #TalentAcquisition #Headhunting #Staffing #Recruiting #RetainedSearch #Contract

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