IT and Business Insights for SMB Solution Providers

How to Maximize ROI When Using a Recruiting Firm

Follow these eight common-sense and experiential best practices to improve your use of recruiting firms. By Todd Billiar

With the first half of 2017 behind us, we begin Q3, which has typically been a strong hiring quarter for the VAR/MSP community. Current demand for talent remains high; retention of key employees critical; hiring qualified staff a necessity. When you make the decision to use a recruiting firm, how do you ensure you receive the best value for your investment in the staffing fee?

Here are eight common-sense and experiential best practices to improve your use of recruiting firms.

1. Educate the Recruiting Firm – Thoroughly and Accurately 

Don’t take short cuts. As defined further below, the recruiter will be the first person a candidate speaks with regarding your opportunity. If he or she cannot articulate the value proposition regarding why a qualified candidate should consider your firm, then all is lost from the start. Basic information the recruiter should be able to initially articulate includes:

  • Why is the position open (growth, replacement, new business initiative, etc.)?
  • What will the day-to-day responsibilities be in the role (not just a list of desired skills), and who will they work with daily?
  • A short profile of the company, and the level of management the person will report to.
  • The available career path for a top-performing professional.
  • Other information unique to your company that can or should be used to attract a qualified candidate’s interest.

2. Timely/Accurate Communication Is Key

The single biggest issue that destroys a successful search is lack of timely or precise communication.

  • Silence or lack of timely feedback is the most difficult language to interpret after an interview, and no recruiting firm can interpret silence correctly. Worse yet, it is disrespectful to the person who interviewed, and reflects poorly on the hiring company.
  • It is impossible to refine a search effort if the candidate feedback is something along the lines of, “They just were not a good fit” or “We just could not get comfortable with them.” Be specific with your feedback to accurately guide the recruiting efforts.

3. Be Committed to the Process – Completely

Don’t waste your and the recruiting firm’s time if the position has not been approved by senior management, if the budget has not been approved, if the interview process has not been defined, if realistic compensation levels have not been approved, and if a defined process to onboard a new employee has not been put in place. Most work performed by recruiting firms is done on a contingency basis, which means they work for free until they fill your position. Recruiting firms understand business needs change, and sometimes a decision is made to not fill a role or to delay filling a position. That event should be the exception to the rule.

4. Have Realistic Experience and Compensation Expectations

Recruiting firms do not “make the market” in terms of candidate salaries and experience. They cannot deliver what does not exist, nor are they in the business of delivering what is referred to as the “Purple Squirrel.” That does not mean you must settle for poorly qualified candidates, but your criteria must be realistic. If budget constraints (or other market forces) prevent you from hiring at the desired experience level, then evaluate possibilities to redefine or shift some of the job responsibilities among existing staff, consider hiring at a more junior level but with someone who is a high talent level (as assessed against the years of experience they possess), or perhaps evaluate the opportunity to promote someone into the open role, and then backfill that individual’s job.

5. Include More Than Skills and Years of Experience on Job Descriptions

Start with the core day-to-day responsibilities to be accomplished in the position you are recruiting for. Identify the most important duties performed in narrative format, and then define the experience levels and/or skills necessary to successfully execute the job.

6. Ensure the Recruiter Has Good Personal Communication and Articulation Skills  

The recruiter will be the first contact a prospective candidate experiences regarding your firm’s opportunity. Besides the obvious need for the recruiter to be fully knowledgeable about the role, he or she must also be able to effectively articulate the value proposition of considering changing jobs to your firm, based on the information you have shared with them.

Here is a fact many do not recognize when dealing with the recruiting task. Unlike a hardware or software product, the “human product” thinks and acts independently; with his/her best interest driving decisions. The better you (the hiring firm) educate the recruiter, the more likely that recruiter will be able to guide the process based on alignment of a candidate’s goals and the hiring firm’s desires.

7. Understand the 80/20 Rule—and Its importance to a Candidate’s Decision

Talented technical professionals are typically hard-wired to learn and enjoy learning. Rarely does a candidate tell the recruiting firm he or she is interested in doing exactly the same job, using the same skills, for the same salary, with limited career growth options.

In most cases, if a candidate possesses 80 percent of the desired skills and experience to perform the job, then he or she is typically worthy of interviewing. Almost without exception, it is the 20 percent of experience or skills they DO NOT possess that makes the job attractive to them, and that can be used to the hiring company’s advantage.

Showing a clear career path, providing opportunity to develop increased skills or advancement above the level of someone’s current role, is a testament to a firm’s investment in a new hire. That investment will have greater appeal and decision leverage to someone, than just doing the same job with a different employer at a slightly higher salary.

8. Be Decisive (But Not Desperate)

Recruiting firms understand it is everyone’s desire to have as many qualified candidates as possible to make a confident decision; most recruiting firms have the same goal. But just quantity is not always a good substitute for quality. If a highly qualified candidate is identified in the set of first-round interviews, do not unreasonably delay moving forward in anticipation of a potentially better candidate. That does not mean an offer or final-round interviews need to be rushed, but letting one or two weeks go by without moving the process forward can be costly in today’s opportunity-rich environment for quality professionals.

To summarize, the best ROI occurs when the foundation for the recruiting effort has been thoroughly defined, a proven process is put in place, and the use of a recruiting firm is viewed as an investment in your human capital asset, rather than an expense.

For more information contact VAR Staffing.

TODD BILLIAR is director of channel sales and marketing at VAR Staffing.

Images: Pixabay

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