Do I need a recruiter?

I happened into a conversation recently about the utility of recruiters.    I was rather taken aback by the negative reaction that the conversation took – where the participants were pretty sure that they didn’t see the real value of the recruiting role. 

I happen to strenuously object.  ( strenuously object! ) and penned my POV below.

Recruiters, whether internal or external, serve several extraordinarily useful functions for a company/hiring mgr/team;

They help you nail down the real job and criteria for candidate consideration.

That job you think you totally understand the role for?   Well you really get that you don’t totally understand what you need until a good recruiter starts grilling you on if you want lots of experience or a little experience, if you want someone who has ALL of your check boxes neatly filled in, or if a potential superstar/up and comer with real success in a few things would fit the bill…

A third party benefits from an external view and can offer a broader canvas of potential for you to review and consider, or they can help you refine or redefine what the “must haves” are for the role so as to help create a more targeted pipeline of potential candidates for you to review and consider.

They pre-screen, qualify and vet before the resume gets to your desk.  
If you don’t get the value of this, then you need to look at what you do all day.  With only 28 hours a day of working time, you’re just not able to look under every rock to find great people (which is where the really great ones are most of the time), or you’re spending way too much time at the top of the people funnel.  And if you’re there – then there’s a pretty good chance that you’re overwhelmed and distracted from your core job.

They serve as a third voice/voice of reason.  
There is real value in having a frank conversation with someone who can be your ally in closing a deal.  Someone who can offer their everyday experience and knowledge of the market to you – and who can also be an ‘impartial’ player and take an offer back to the candidate as a “I think this would be the best way for you to potentially get this job.”

A good recruiter is essentially a member of your team/company… It’s a little Machiavellian, but if they work for/with you – you have the upper hand and ultimately, if they are good, listen and respond accordingly it’s a win-win-win.

Recruiters are also awesome at prying great people away from their current jobs.  Great people are pretty rarely active job seekers.  A recruiter is another voice of experience and knowledge and someone else to say “By the way, this company was named the third best place to work in NY” or something that resonates strongly and positively with the candidate(s) and it’s more believable/credible than if I say it.

(Which my company is, btw… for those of you keeping score at home  🙂 )

Of course, there are a lot of bad recruiters, just like there are a lot of bad plumbers, marketers, or salespeople.  Anyone can open a business just by putting up a web site and buying a business license.   If your primary experience is that you personally find a great person to hire, then hand them to the recruiter, then you’re doing all the work.   It’s even worse when recruiters latch onto a candidate, then shop them around like an auction to lots of clients to drive up their commissions/fees.   When a recruiter finds active job seekers or top talent they functionally serve as a matchmaker service, and are in essence working for the candidate, but getting paid by the company.   This stinks… but does happen.    But there are also great recruiters that take the strategic approach. and are focused on helping us with the end goal of finding us the best person for the long haul. They are a joy to work with and we renew our relationships with them over time as need and demand requires.

Personally, I love working with internal recruiters, because they can communicate more directly and more often, and will make your search special and their focus.  If you need to scale up a lot and quickly, get that recruiter in-house.  You don’t have to worry about them taking a commission from another company for that excellent candidate that would be great working for you.

But if you don’t have the resources or structure to hire an internal recruiter, finding a trusted recruitment partner on the outside can be an amazing multiplier to your talent pool and also can help you to cast your net out a lot further with potential candidates than just hoping you’ll get it together in your spare time.