Does Your Recruiter Need a Recruiter


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We don’t want you to shudder when you think of professional recruitment agencies, but we also understand that a bad experience can leave a company feeling distrustful of the whole operation.

We posted an article several weeks ago (“Not Everyone is a Recruiter – Skills and Experience are a Must”) that dealt briefly with the issue of problematic, inexperienced recruiters. We’d like to give you a few key warning signs to watch for so you can know if your recruiter is a pro, or if they could use a professional recruiter themselves to help bring them up to par.

Let’s start with the first and most potentially-dangerous sign of a too-inexperienced recruiter, desperation.


Many new recruiters work only on contingency, and this can lead to a bad case of desperation.  Or maybe you’ve seen recruiters stuck in the frantic search for a huge client and immediate payout, again resulting in desperation. The desperation doesn’t bode well for company, candidate, or recruiter. Desperation causes recruiters to act unwisely, cutting corners both ethically and professionally.

If you see this in your recruiter, it’s probably time to look for a consultant with more experience. Chances are, the desperate recruiter is either going to run into trouble by acting unethically, burn out from the frenzied pace they’ve set for themselves, have trouble sourcing and developing candidates because of their demanding or pushy demeanor, or cause a company to tire of their regular pressure to accept candidates who don’t meet the job requirements or who aren’t in the company’s budget.


We aren’t slinging mud here; ignorance is what preceded understanding for every now-experienced recruiter. New recruiters in this category could become great recruiters if they find someone who can help them learn the practices of effective recruiting. That being said, with the future of your company on the line, you may not want to be the guinea pig.

Here are some telltale signs of a recruiter lacking knowledge.

You may notice that the recruiter is struggling to locate qualified candidates, or if they are finding candidates, they are the same candidates who are readily accessible in a basic online search. This recruiter may be lost, not knowing where to go for more sourcing options, and unsure of how to begin networking.

Or maybe the candidate list you receive is lacking. The candidates aren’t qualified, and the recruiter is either missing important information you’ve given them regarding qualifications or is unknowledgeable about the specific industry or position you are hiring. They may not be able to tell from resumés and phone calls who could be a fit for the position, because they don’t really understand the position itself.

You could also be confused by a recruiter’s lack of understanding about the style and pace of professional recruiting. Maybe your recruiter is hard to get in touch with, is slow to update you on progress made, or misunderstands his or her role in your hiring process.

If you find yourself training your recruiter, regularly educating him or her on the particulars of your industry or his or her position as a recruiter, it likely means that he or she needs some extra training and experience before he or she is able to be useful to you.

While these warning signs could point to a recruiter lacking experience, they could also point to a recruiter who has plenty of experience, but is just not a good fit for the job. A great recruiter or agency will be a huge help to your company, so if you find you are working with a desperate or unknowledgeable recruiter, consider looking for someone else.

Myth: It Costs Too Much to Use a Recruitment Consultant or Agency


Let’s set the record straight. Recruiters do not have magical, superhero powers. We sometimes hear of HR heads and hiring managers getting frustrated with recruiters – believing that paying an outside consultant or agency a fee means they are granted access to a list of candidates with unrealistically incredible skill sets who are all eager to work for their company.

People. That’s just not how it works. And expectations set in the realm of the quixotic will only slow down efforts to hire top talent.

Experienced recruiters are professional sourcers, network builders, and engagement specialists.  This allows them to find and engage top talent for your company’s needs. But the candidates they produce often have the same qualifications – those outlined in your company’s job description – as candidates you could potentially have uncovered if you decided to keep hiring efforts in-house.

So why are professional recruiters worth upfront cost? Why pay a recruiter to find candidates you could find on your own?

Because a recruiting consultant or agency can find the qualified candidates when companies often cannot.

Sure, a company could put the time and effort into sourcing and engaging candidates, but even if companies have in-house recruiters who won’t throw off a company’s daily groove by focusing on hiring, these employees are still pulled in various directions with multiple positions to fill and the regular distractions of meetings and other in-office duties.

A recruitment consultant or agency can put 100% of their time and effort into filling your job opening, and that brings in results that, to a company who needs quality candidates now, can feel a little bit magical. The “magic” is not a list of unicorn candidates from blackmarket-level-secret sources. It’s the magic of years of experience and well-honed networking and engagement skills yielding excellent results in a timely fashion. And that is what saves you money in the end.

We’ve cited Center for American Progress’s 2012 study previously, and the summation given in the closing remarks speaks to the extreme value of timely, quality hiring. “…The cost of employee turnover for businesses is high, regardless of the level of wages being paid to the departing or incoming employees. Companies typically pay about one-fifth of an employee’s salary to replace that employee. While it costs businesses more to replace their very-highest-paid employees, the costs for most employers remains significant and does become less significant for those with low earnings.”

Employee turnover costs swell when positions are not filled quickly. Training is laborious and expensive, and unfilled positions hurt the company as a whole when existing employees have to deviate from their own tasks to help fill in the gaps. The last thing a company needs is a poor hire to add to the cycle of lost earning potential.
Professional recruitment consultants and agencies can find the candidates a company does not have the time to find. If a company is willing to let a recruiter do the work they are trained to do, if they are clear about what they are looking for in a new hire, and if their expectations for the candidates a recruiter produces are feasible, professional recruiters can prove to be invaluable resources to the companies with whom they partner.

Using Technology to Help with Recruiting

It would be difficult to overestimate the role technology has played in recruiting practices in recent years. A hiring process void of online components is now nearly unheard of, while trends and techniques considered “best practice” for hiring from job boards and ATSs are growing and changing so rapidly, it’s hard to keep up.

The aggressive mining of big data has produced new formulas and software for every aspect of the recruiting process. From sourcing to closing, it’s now easier than ever to take care of business via a PC or mobile device.

The rapid development of technology makes it difficult to pause and analyze all of its implications, but one piece of recruiting advice does seem to resound again and again among top business leaders – technology cannot replace people.

The key is not finding programs to automate the hiring process from one end to the other, but instead, discerning how to make the best use of time-saving technology in order to invest the most personal time and effort into hiring’s key stages. Precise applications of this will vary from industry to industry and business to business, but there are several overarching principles we believe will prove helpful to all companies seeking to use the latest technology to help with their recruiting process.

Get on Board

Maybe you’re a technology holdout, still fighting off indigestion when paper resumes are passed over for online applications; maybe you have tried to learn a new system, only to have it displaced by the “new-and-improved” version months later; maybe you’ve finally put technology to use in a way that is comfortable to you, and you’re cringing at the thought of having to change everything again. We get it.

If technology’s innovations are more obnoxious than exciting to you, if you aren’t eagerly scanning tech blogs every morning, anxious to see what new gizmo Google or Apple put out now, consider getting some help in the IT arena. It’s far easier to adjust to regular, small-level changes than to try to learn a completely new system every few years.

Find a tech blog that speaks your language, seek out a conference that is accessible to the non-tech-guru, hire an IT person or team who can help with the unceasing onslaught of changes, and then embrace the good technology has to offer.

Make it work for you. Again, technology updates shouldn’t be ends in themselves, they should render profits; they should make your hiring process more efficient, making your life easier. So get on board and stay on board.

Mobility (And all that entails…)

Getting more specific, recent developments in technology are moving consistently toward a mobile-friendly design. This is much more than creating smartphone-accessible websites. It’s about ensuring that you have a hiring process that is easily accessible to potential candidates and the ability to include as many formats of communication – video, chat, social media links, etc. – as are helpful to you in your sourcing and hiring practices.

Depending on your business and your focus, you may or may not use every social media site or popular app that comes along to contribute to your hiring process, but you should be willing to consider the potential value of any new technology. If a candidate’s resume includes the option of a link to a social media profile or video interview, these additions to the traditional resume format can provide more information on the candidate, giving recruiters and businesses a fuller picture of who that candidate really is.

Ask yourself if your hiring process is candidate-friendly. It’s difficult enough to find a good match in a new hire, don’t let superficial issues – like non-user-friendly interfaces and confusing formatting – keep the right candidates from applying for your open position.

Social media, like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter, can be powerful advertising and hiring tools. LinkedIn is the obvious social media option for business-related contact building and advertising, but Facebook is hard to ignore, with a reported 1.79 billion active monthly users in December 2016.  30% of all Google searches are employment related (about 300 million per month), so if you aren’t putting regular effort into establishing and keeping up with your business’s online presence, you’re missing out.

Keep it Personal

We’ve already advised against letting algorithms take the place of people. Data, formulas, apps, and systems should help people, not replace them. No computer can make a personal connection with new, potential, or existing employees the way a person can. And connection is what keeps an employee at a job. So while it’s amazing that a single online ad can generate interest from applicants all around the world, it’s also not enough to ensure long-term hiring success.

Technology needs constant babysitting – regular updates, troubleshooting, evaluating and reevaluating.  This requires a wise and personal touch. Resources are widely available for businesses seeking industry-specific advice for effectively utilizing current technology, but they, again, require the careful consideration and implementation of a knowledgeable person or team of people.

Alongside the trend towards mobility is an emphasis on making the hiring process as personal as possible.  Businesses who are embracing apps like Snapchat as a method of connecting with candidates are, at least in part, seeking to provide candidates a more realistic portrayal of the culture of their company.  This is, reportedly, a huge priority among millennials. And, as Jeff Fromm explains in Forbes, millennials are “the generation that will represent nearly 75 percent of the workforce by 2030.”

Quality, time-tested business practices are as important as ever. Efforts to improve a company’s technology should work hand-in-hand with more traditional keys to business success.  Technology should reflect and not distract from the heart of the company it represents.  Keeping your technology personal betters your chances of hiring employees that are a good match for your company’s distinct culture. Better matches mean less turnover, and less turnover saves you money.

Interview Questions Hiring Managers Should be Asking

We briefly mentioned Top-grading interview techniques in our post titled, “Ten Tips to Improve Your Company’s Recruiting and Hiring.”  We’d like to take the time here to explore the topic of interview questions and techniques in greater detail.

Interviews are not a static operation. Multiple people are involved, making the interview process difficult to effectively reduce to a list of perfect questions that will be successful in all situations.  The goal of an interview is to understand a person; you are trying to discern if an individual is the best fit for your company. The more you understand what truly motivates a person, the more accurately you are able to predict how well a candidate’s goals line up with those of your company.

Topgrading technique and our years of experience recommend, then, that your interview questions seek out the details of a candidate’s work history in order to understand what most motivates him or her.

Simply asking, “What motivates you to complete a task well?” is ambiguous enough to generate confused, canned, or generalized answers that offer you no real insight into the interviewee. However, taking the time to go over a candidate’s work history and asking specific questions about successes and failures at different jobs, for example,  will allow the interviewer to piece together a fuller, more accurate picture of the candidate’s character and motivations.

Imagine, if you will, a typical interview scenario. An applicant sits across the desk from a small panel of interviewers. One of them asks the common interview question, “What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?” This isn’t a bad question; it’s actually precisely what most employers want to know about a candidate. However, asking this question to an interviewee without any given context will rarely give you the kind of honest, reflective answer you are seeking. You may even get a humorously cliché answer like, “My greatest weakness and my greatest strength are the same; I simply care too much.” Whether this answer makes you grimace or chuckle, it doesn’t help you understand the inner workings of your candidate.

Instead, imagine that the same group of interviewers and interviewee were seated as before, and one of the panelists asks, “On your job history it shows that you worked at Company A for five years and then took a job across town at Company B. Can you tell us why you decided to make this move?” Follow-up questions could include, “What did you like most about your time with Company A? What did you like least? What is one thing you learned at Company B that has made you a better employee? What things do you think you could have done better to make your time with Company B more successful? What would your supervisor at Company A most likely say is something you need to work on?” The questions are endless and cannot be strictly scripted, as a mindful interviewer will listen to a candidate’s answers and follow up with the most relevant questions. Though it takes more time and thought to ask these sorts of questions, at the end of this second interview, you’ve started to develop a more accurate view of the candidate’s actual strengths and weaknesses.

Top-grading experts include, as further assurance of the effectiveness of the process, checking in with the bosses and direct supervisors at each of the candidate’s past jobs. Knowing that you will follow up in this way encourages the candidate to give honest, thoughtful answers, as opposed to the overly self-glorifying answer you may receive if a candidate believes you are only speaking with the friends and coworkers he or she has listed as recommended references.  Even very honest applicants can give better answers when they know that their responses will be weighed against another’s perspective.

An effective interviewer understands the that he or she is dealing with the person behind the paper resumé. People are complex and cannot often be summed up in a few easy, rehearsed sentences. The resumé is the snapshot, the interview should be the travel journal. You should leave an interview with a better understanding of not only what an applicant has accomplished, but how and why an applicant accomplished those things.