How to Get the Best Results When Hiring a Search Firm, Part 2

Twenty­ five thousand dollars seems like a steep price for a résumé, no matter how good the candidate. That’s why many companies balk at the idea of using search firms to recruit potential hires. We agree, you’d be crazy to pay $25,000, or more, for a single résumé, but search firms offer much more than that. Good recruiters identify and vet prospective candidates, prepare them for their interviews, and walk them through the hiring process. They ensure that interviewees are a good match for the position and company culture, and they keep them warm until an official offer is made. Recruiters can be great assets in recruiting and hiring top talent – if you let them do their jobs.

Why Should You Hire a Recruiter?

At BVOH Finance & Accounting Search, we often hear from companies that first tried to rely upon in­house resources to find candidates. At this point, their requisition has already been open for two to eight weeks, on average, and limited progress was made. This strategy is often encouraged, if not mandated, by internal management to save money on recruiting fees and utilize the investment they’ve already made in their internal recruiting team. However, in this tight candidate market, this approach typically doesn’t yield the best results. Internal recruiters, by design, are typically not as specialized, and thus don’t have the power of their own network to efficiently identify and attract the passive candidates. Consequently, this strategy to save money ends up costing infinitely more because the company wasted valuable time AND ended up paying the recruiter fee they were trying to initially avoid. Even companies operating with limited budgets benefit from working with specialized recruiters, because they avoid the initial two to eight weeks of searching for prospective candidates. Of course, if you want to enjoy all the advantages of a search firm, you need a strategy that benefits your hiring managers, the recruiter, the candidate, and your entire organization. Let’s look at how to achieve that.

Vetting the Vetters

Before you engage a search firm, establish your own standards to ensure you’re working with an agency that understands and aligns with your values. The following are must-­have expectations when working with recruiters:

In-­person meetings with candidates: Some lower-­tier recruiters will communicate with candidates only via phone or email. They miss important opportunities to really get to know the candidates, understand whether their personalities will fit with the hiring organization, and finally, establish an advisory relationship with the candidates that will ultimately aid in their decision making process. Insist that the recruiters you’re working with meet all candidates in person before they submit them for a position.

Candidate approval for applications: Because contingency recruiters only get paid when they place candidates, some will rush applicants through the process or will submit résumés for a job without getting candidates’ permission. This is a seedy and expensive practice because it puts your hiring managers in the position of reading applications from people who may not even want the job. Make sure the firm with which you work has a policy of obtaining the candidate’s approval before any applications are made.

Ongoing involvement: Work with recruiters who support candidates, and your organization, throughout the application process. Recruiters serve as important liaisons between your hiring managers and potential hires. They help candidates prepare for interviews, supplying valuable information about the job specifics and how to present themselves to your team. Make sure your recruiter is prepared to take on a number of tasks, including:

– Scheduling interviews

– Debriefing candidates

– Answering concerns for both clients and candidates

– Down streaming timing and competitive activity

Recruiters also keep candidates warm for your hiring managers while they’re still making a decision. They update prospective hires on the job status, manage their expectations, and engage their interest until a selection is made. Without that communication, top prospects often assume the worst and may pursue or accept other offers when your end has seemingly gone dark.

Upholding Your End of the Relationship

Once you’ve identified a firm with which you’d like to work, the relationship’s success depends on your commitment to the high standards you’ve set and to fostering trust and communication. Here’s how you can ensure a successful partnership.

1. Don’t Cut Corners

The in­-person meeting rule applies to you as much as it does to the search firm. Meet with your recruiter face­-to-face as soon as possible to build credibility and dive deep into what you’re looking for in a candidate. Allow your recruiter to get a sense of the company, the opportunity, and your hiring managers’ personalities. BVOH Finance & Accounting Search only works with clients and candidates in the Bay Area so we can ensure we get that all­-important face­-time and build those relationships. Many companies turn to Skype to hold faster, less expensive meetings, but phone calls and Skype conferences can’t make up for the human connection and trust that’s built in person.

2. Establish Trust

Hiring managers who are unclear about a recruiter’s role in the process may not trust her, but that cuts both ways. All parties involved should understand how they fit together and should keep one another informed on their progress. This creates accountability and a true partnership with your recruiter. Remember, you are playing for the same team with the same goals, to find and hire the best possible candidate for your open position.

3. Include the Recruiter as an Advisor

Companies miss opportunities when they allow their HR teams to say, “Thanks for the résumé. We’ll take it from here.” Once you find the candidate you want to hire, you need to get him in the seat. If you’re working with the right kind of recruiter, she’s met the candidate and knows important details of his personality and motivations that could influence the hiring decision. If you’re going to work with a recruiter, let her do her job. Don’t piecemeal her position.

4. Be Transparent

Hiring managers sometimes hesitate to tell recruiters about snags in the process, HR hold-­ups, or concerns they have about a candidate. Withholding that information strains the recruiter’s relationship with the candidates, making it harder for her to keep them interested. Regular contact builds trust and enables everyone to do their jobs as best they can. Don’t make the mistake of dismissing recruiters as mere résumé hunters. Good recruiters want to find the best candidates for your organization and are excellent at their jobs. They know people, understand what makes a good cultural fit, and can facilitate the recruiting and hiring process. Work with search firms that align with your values and standards, and you’ll undoubtedly be satisfied with the talent you meet.

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