Small Business Basics: How to Find, Hire and Work with a Recruiting Partner – Part 3

Part 3: Choosing the Right Recruiting Partner

The best headhunting firms for you are those that understand your industry and have worked with companies like yours. They should be able to answer all your questions relating to job requirements, expectations, trade-offs, hurdles, budgets and the best places to advertise – if at all.

At the core, recruiting is selling. The right recruiting partner should be able to promote and evangelize your mission, the role, and address candidate objections. In order to do so, he or she will require a firm grasp on your company. This includes your story, business model, mission, competitors, plans for growth, culture – and everything that a prospective employee wants to know about a given job. As your ambassador to the market, this person will represent your brand to the public.

As with any partnership, honesty and trust are crucial. If a recruiter tells you he can fill your vacancies without knowing the nuances, they’re lying or naive. Some roles are more difficult than others. Sometimes, your wish list costs more than your budget allows; maybe more than one person is required to cover your demands. A good recruiter will consult on these issues and advise you on the best concessions or compromises.

Some people find that choosing a recruiting partner is difficult. To hedge their bets, they choose to work with multiple firms, at once. This might result in better coverage, but there is a real risk that your positions won’t get the attention they deserve. Some firms won’t take on a role without an exclusive agreement or retainer. If you don’t trust that a single firm can satisfy your needs, keep looking for a better partner.

TIP: The bigger recruiting agencies may appear to provide faster service because they employ more recruiters. In many cases, these firms don’t necessarily serve any one client, instead they recommend the same candidates to several other employers. This can result in two outcomes. The first is that their larger (more lucrative) accounts see the best talent before smaller employers have the same opportunity. The second issue is that this can result in multiple offers and artificially inflate your chosen candidate’s salary. Consider working with a boutique partner where you will be a bigger fish in their small pond.