One of the first lessons taught to me when I entered the recruiting industry as an in-house recruiter was “external recruiting firms are our enemy.” Not knowing any better, I held this to be true for the first several years of my career. I understand the concept that internal recruiting groups should reduce the use of search firms for cost saving reasons but that does not mean there will never be a need for their services.
I view search firms as partners and an augmentation to my team. There are times when there are just too many jobs to be successful. I’ve worked with firms that had more than 40 jobs per recruiter and refused to use a firm. This is just stupid! I have three factors that drive my decision for when to engage one of my search firm partners.
Niche Job Roles
Some firms develop a specialty in the market and have a command on the talent within the space. I had a couple of unique roles when working for a firm that would have required me to not only learn the market but also develop a network of potential clients. It was a tightly knit candidate pool that was not very inviting to say the least. Rather than continuing to beat my head against a wall at the detriment of my client, I chose to find a search firm that had a grasp and network within this complicated field.
Rather than viewing this as a defeat, I chose to reallocate my time to other roles that I knew I could make an immediate impact. This not only kept me from unneeded frustration, it also met the needs of my client and increased the ROI of recruiting for the organization.
High Volume Needs
I’m sure your first thought was “RPO” or Recruitment Process Outsourcing. This is definitely a viable option for very large firms with deep pockets but it is not an option for smaller firms or smaller budgets. If you find yourself swamped with high volume roles, it might be a good idea to find a search partner who could take batches of roles for your firm. This is a great way to meet the needs of your clients without exhausting your team.
Many search partners offer discounts on this type of recruiting need. I’ve worked with partners who changed their fee structure from a percentage of the base to a flat fee per hire. They were able to tap into their vast network and marketing sources to quickly attract candidates to the top of the funnel. Unlike my small team, they were able to reallocate several recruiters to the task with minimal ramp up time comparably.
Bottom line: if you have significant high volume needs, a search partner can not only save you time, headache and ramp up time, if you negotiate it, save you money as well. Don’t forget, there is a cost associated with every day a position is open. If you’re not filling the roles in a timely fashion, you’re not “saving” the company money by not going to search, you’re costing the firm money.
Confidential Hiring with a Need for Diversity
If you’re recruiting for a position that has been newly created or isn’t within your area of expertise, top headhunters have the specialist skills to help fill that knowledge gap.
According to the Leaders 2020 study conducted by SAP and Oxford Economics, diversity is an issue with senior executives and corporate boards. Executive search firms will conduct original research on all candidates, which in turn brings far great diversity into top-level roles and avoids any unconscious biases that may be held in-house. Most successful search firms have vast lists of qualified executives across many types of under-represented groups. Leveraging such a network can allow firms to not only find the most qualified candidate for the open role but also increase the opportunity for a diverse candidate to be placed.
Using a search firm partner is not an admission of defeat! If you have this mindset, it’s well passed time for you to change. Be sure to develop a short list of hiring partners you would be able to use and develop a relationship with them. I like to think of them as an extension of my team and a valuable tool consider when you have high volumes, hard to find niche roles, or need help in hiring more diverse executives.
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