Should You Use a Recruiter to Hire Employees?

kathryn by Kathryn Hawkins on November 21, 2011
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You’re looking for that key staff member who can take your business to the next level. You’ve tried the mega job boards, but the candidates who’ve applied aren’t remotely qualified for the position — and you’re tired of weeding through your inbox. Should you turn to an employment agency? Maybe. Consider these factors before you do.

  • Industry-specific recruiters know where to find qualified candidates. Experienced headhunters working within a particular industry generally understand its key players and where to promote open positions. Often, they contact employees of competing firms to see whether they’re interested in a job, which is probably not a tactic you’d dare to try on your own.
  • Anyone can call himself a recruiter. Unlike for lawyers and real estate agents, there are no licensing requirements for recruiters. When considering using a headhunter, pay close attention to his prior experience and clients. Ask for referrals to make sure that he’s made good matches in the past.
  • Recruiters are motivated to find employees fast. Because a recruiter isn’t paid until she matches a job seeker with a job, she’s eager to find you a candidate quickly. This can be a good for you if she’s careful to vet the candidate’s qualifications; however, if she rushes to fill the job for the sake of getting paid, you may not end up with the ideal person.
  • Recruiters may rule out candidates you’d like to hire. When you give recruiters a set of criteria, they tend to make sure that all potential candidates fulfill everything on your wish list. That means they’re likely to rule out any candidate that’s even slightly lacking, but whom you may have liked despite the fact that they weren’t the whole package. Make sure to clarify details such as whether you will accept relevant experience in related industries or might allow telecommuting for the right candidate.
  • Recruiter fees can drive down employee salaries, shrinking your pool of potential employees. Although you don’t pay anything out of pocket to use an employment agency, you’ll need to budget its fee (typically, around 20 percent of the candidate’s salary) into the amount you’re paying for the hiring package. That means that if your dream hire asks for an extra $10,000 in salary, you may not have room to negotiate — and could end up losing the candidate as a result.
  • Recruiters can save you time. By outsourcing the application review and interviewing process, you’ll free up your time to focus on more profitable business ventures. Although you’ll have the final say in hiring a candidate, all of the time-consuming work that goes into making that decision will be handled by someone else.
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