Monday, August 24, 2009

Recruitment Strategy Development – Successful Third Party Recruiting Relationships

RecruiterGuy has been on all three sides of the recruiting process. Three sides? Sure, I’ve been a third party recruiter, a corporate recruiting manager, and a candidate.

Today we are discussing the use of third party recruiters as a sourcing and recruiting partner. Wait! Stop rolling your eyes! Remember I’ve been on both sides of the desk. Currently as a contract recruitment consultant often I am on both sides in the same company.

Why would you want to include contingent, retained, and contract recruitment in your recruitment strategy? Generally it is pretty simple. Do you have one or more skilled recruiters on staff? Is your philosophy to make recruitment the entry level position into Human Resources? Do you understand that Recruiting is Sales? If your answers were no, yes, and no, you really need to utilize the services of a third party recruiter. Why? Third party recruiters spend their entire day recruiting and should be experts – and the good ones are. The experts are very creative in their sourcing, have successfully built candidate relationships in the past and understand how to build new relationships quickly.

So how do you effectively work with a contingent or retained recruiter? Remember a very important concept. Time is money. If you are going to use a recruiter because their fees are the lowest you can find, there is probably a reason for that.

Experienced, competent recruiters generally command higher fees. Why? They understand the value of their time and your time. Generally they don’t empty their databases in order to earn a fee. The excellent recruiters take the time to understand the position, its role in your company, the reporting relationships; and if they have worked with you for a long time they understand your culture. These people are professionals and will save your company time and money over the long haul.

Wait a minute! Save us money? How? Remember my last blog when I suggested asking the hiring manager what it will cost the company if the person isn’t hired by the budget date? That is the money I am referring to. If your company spends six months to a year looking for the right fit for a key position, it probably is costing the company a lot of money. Rhetorical question – if the position would not cost your company money by being open, are you sure you need the position?

How do you determine if contingent or retained is the best route? Generally speaking, the retained recruiters search for the higher level positions and generally at the higher fee levels. Typically your company would pay them one third of the anticipated fee at the signing of the contract with them. Then they will receive the next third when they deliver candidates and the final fee when the person starts. Contingent recruiters receive their entire fee when the person starts. I’d suggest using the person that has given you the best service if they feel they can be successful at that level. In my experience since 1981, sometimes the senior positions are easier to recruit for than the junior positions (retained recruiters are about to attack me for that statement!).

Some recruiters only work specific jobs within an industry and can be very effective in that industry. The potential conflict only occurs if your company is also in that industry. If they are recruiting in that industry, sooner or later in order to attract the best qualified candidate to you they will have to recruit from a client. Sooner or later, you will also be that client, unless you have a clause in your contract with penalties for recruiting out of your company. For instance, my contract states that for a period of five years after my contract ends, I may not recruit nor aid another recruiter to recruit from my client.

Here is a simple test to see if you can trust a contingent or retained recruiter to send qualified candidates. Spend a half hour on the phone describing the job, the manager and the company culture. Tell the recruiter that you would like to see a copy of their phone screen when they present the candidate to you. Additionally tell the recruiter that you want only a few, qualified resumes. Require that they also send the resume and phone screen to you at the same time they forward it to the manager. If the first resume they send you is off the mark, chat with them again to sharpen their focus. If the second person is also off the mark, you should nicely express your concern and suggest that this is not going well. After all, you do not want to waste your hiring manager’s time nor your time.

Once they pass the simple test, the professional recruiter will need access to your hiring managers in order to get quick feedback on both the candidate and the job as it evolves – and most jobs evolve as hiring managers meet candidates. It is the best way for them to be effective for you. Remember the communications exercise where you line people up and whisper in the first one’s ear? By the time it gets to the last person, the message is almost always changed. That is the reason the recruiter needs the feedback directly from the hiring manager (possibly with you on the call). Quick feedback helps move the process along and improves your chances of recruiting an individual. Time works against you in the recruiting process.

Once you have successfully worked with a professional recruiter and develop a mutual trust, you will like going that route when you need outside resources.

In our next Recruitment Strategy Development blog we will discuss applicant tracking systems.