How to Recruit a Recruiter

Kurt Wilkin

Whether you are starting a new business venture, or planning to grow an existing one, the people you hire are key to your ultimate success. Working with a trustworthy, business-minded recruiter can provide invaluable assistance to building the talent your business needs for success.

But finding the right recruiter for your company is trickier than it seems. How do you separate the good ones from the bad ones? How do you ensure you are investing in your company’s future and not wasting precious resources?

First, and critically, make sure you understand the difference between contingent and retained search.

I’ve written extensively about this, but if you’ve been burned by a recruiter before (and most of us have), chances are you were working with a contingent recruiter. By and large, the contingent business model values quantity over quality, speed over insight and salesmanship over objectivity. Most of these folks are just trolling the big job boards and recycling their database to try and get resumes over to you as fast as they can, without a lot of vetting.

Working with a retained recruiter is different. Yes, the up-front costs may seem higher, but in exchange you get someone who is working solely for you. In this model, the recruiter will often present fewer candidates, but only because they are doing the screening process for you. At our company, for example, we regularly spend many hours with candidates before we are willing to present them to a client. And we never present anyone who isn’t a good fit with the client company’s needs and culture.

A good recruiter will want to dig deeper...they'll want to make sure you are making the right investments in your own success.

Additionally, retained search allows the recruiter to identify the exact right person for the role – whether that person is looking for new opportunities or not. True game-changers are out there building businesses, not looking for jobs.

When establishing a relationship with a recruiter, fit is a big part of it. Do you even like the firm and their employees? Do you trust in their expertise? To really get the most out of recruiting advice, something has to jell between you and the team running your search.

A good recruiter will want to dig deeper. They won’t necessarily grasp at job orders to get commissions – they’ll want to make sure that you are making the right investments in your own success. Sometimes that means asking you hard questions about why you need what you think you need.

To find a recruiter or talent firm that puts your business success first, here are a few things you can do:

  • Be open to answering business questions that may, at first, seem invasive or off-topic. A good partner will want to make sure they are leveraging the right talent to solve the right problem – not just throwing bodies at you.
  • Think big picture. The talent solution that you have in mind may not be the best one. For example, the right partner will help you solve real business problems and will not be reactive in order to simply earn a commission.

Most important, if you want to work with a true partner, bring an open mind to the discussion. Together, you may come up with entirely new solutions!

If you want to turn the heat up on your company’s growth, connecting with the right recruiter can be a great way to help you identify game-changers and build the talent plan to take your business to the next level.

Recruit Employees Proactively to Support Business Growth

Talent acquisition is an investment, not an expense. You need a recruiting strategy, not a knee- jerk reaction.
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