|"When I need a heart
by-pass, rest assured I won't select my surgeon based on what he
charges." That's what an ailing executive recently opined when his
doctor informed him of his arterial blockage problems.
Why then are corporate executives so tightfisted
when dealing with what is so commonly considered the "lifeblood" of
their companies…top-talent? Companies think very little about paying
the high fees charged by outside accounting and legal firms…or even
the gaggle of consultants who promise cost-cutting and streamlining
miracles in other areas. Yet, when faced with brain drains, talent
deficiencies, or the need to replace one employee with another,
thoughts all too often turn to parsimony.
This K-mart mentality belies and contradicts the
corporation's stated objective of "hire the best" -- especially at
pecking order levels below the "big picture" executive suite. So why
are recruiters worth what they charge? Just a few of the often
unspoken reasons follow below:
Nobody knows the employment marketplace better than a professional
recruiter…nobody! In-house human resources, no matter how effective
(or Internet-savvy), views the marketplace through an imperfect prism,
and tunnel vision is a frequent occupational hazard. In-house
professionals are vulnerable to the pressures of internal politics and
cultural dimensions -- factors which do not hinder the outsider.
Cast a wider net
- A professional fisherman will always have a greater selection than a
weekend angler. Recruiters are in the marketplace day-in and day-out.
They know the unfished coves, reefs, and inlets, including the
unlisted addresses inaccessible to company insiders. Professional
recruiters have a detailed roadmap to the hidden talent sources that
can not be accessed through newspaper ads, alumni associations,
applicant databases, or the Internet. An occasional pearl can surface
through these sources, (and someone inevitably wins the Publisher's
Clearinghouse Sweepstakes too), but you have to shuck an awful lot of
smelly oysters to find them. Recruiters provide you oysters proven to
contain pearls. Your only job is to determine which pearl is the
finest. Want to catch what you're fishing for? Hire a guide!
Cost - There is
a misconception among employers that the cost of a hire equals the
cost of the ad or posting run to attract the person hired. Nothing
could be further from the truth. Just add up the following and you'll
soon see just how cost effective an outside recruiter can be:
- Salaries and benefits of the in-house hiring
staff, plus those of the line managers involved in the hiring
activity -- people not productive in their normal job pursuits
because they're out recruiting.
- Travel, lodging, and entertainment expenses of
- Source development costs.
- Overhead expenses including, but not limited to,
telephone, office space, postage, PR literature, applicant database
maintenance, website costs, reference checking, and clerical costs
to correspond with the hundreds of unqualified respondents and more.
Contrary to what some believe, recruiters do not try to fit square
pegs into round holes. A recruiter's stock-in-trade is his or her
integrity and reputation for finding someone better than a company
could find on its own. The candidate selection process is not, as some
believe, a matter of romping through the file cabinets or vetting an
opening among others in the recruiter's network. For a mid- to
senior-level executive, the average recruiter may develop a "long
list" of a hundred or more possibilities. Each candidate must be
called and evaluated against the position's specifications, including
screening for personality "fit" with the company and the people with
whom the candidate will ultimately work. Once the list is winnowed
down to the "short list," an even more intensive interviewing process
is commenced to narrow the search to a panel of finalists for review
by the client.
It is highly unlikely that a professional recruiter
will plow new ground to fill your opening. Recruiters deal within
spheres of influence relevant to your needs. Because they want to do
business with you again and again, outside recruiters are looking for
the "truly exceptional" rather than someone who is "just
- Working with an outside recruiter can help keep your search
confidential. Advertising or otherwise publicly proclaiming an
opening, (aside from its high cost and demonstrated ineffectiveness
for sensitive senior level openings), often creates anxiety and
apprehension among the company's current employees. People often
wonder why they aren't being considered for the position, or worry
about transition challenges. Furthermore, advertising can alert
competitors to a current weakness or void in an organization.
Speed - Using a
search professional who is continually tapped into the talent market
is faster than one having to start the process from scratch. For every
day that a key opening goes unfilled, a company's other employees must
grudgingly do double duty. Productivity and efficiency are reduced.
This is not to mention the profit opportunities or competitive
advantages lost because a position remains unfilled or is performed on
a part-time basis by others less qualified.
- Not only is speed an essential part of the professional recruiter's
job, the ability to locate a person who can immediately "hit the
ground running" with a minimum of "ramp-up time" is also desirable.
The learning curve is greater for hires selected through less
effective resources; potentially requiring several months of expensive
training and orientation to bring up to par.
Unbiased Third-Party Input
- A professional recruiter's primary function is not to fill a slot,
but to provide the right candidate to solve a problem. Professional
recruiters are often fast to recognize misconceptions about salary
requirements, job qualifications, or the possibility that the hiring
solution might lie in areas outside the target industry…factors an
internal recruiter might either be unaware of or politically
disinclined to reveal.
Master negotiator Herb Cohen once said, "Negotiation is the analysis
of information, time, and power to affect behavior…the meeting of
needs (yours and others') to make things happen the way you want them
to." As a buffer and informed intermediary, the professional recruiter
is better able to blend the needs and wants of both parties.
Professional recruiters help companies arrive at a mutually beneficial
arrangement without the polarizing roadblocks which all too frequently
materialize in face-to-face dealings, especially in today's "show me
the money" economy.
Resources - It is often perplexing to see how a company
squanders revenue on non-productive perks while penny-pinching on what
its lifeblood…talent acquisition. Club memberships and the like may be
fine, but no one really believes that these expenditures contribute to
a company's profit margin. On the other hand, one well-placed employee
can send a company's profits skyrocketing. The fee for hiring talented
individuals pales in significance when compared to the contributions
he or she can make to the bottom line.
The next time you think a recruiter's fees are too
high, put them in the proper perspective before seeking out that blue
light special or spinning your wheels trying to fill vital openings
with less effective (but not necessarily less expensive) pedestrian
methods. Enlightened executives learned long ago that the fee paid to
a recruiter is a shrewd strategic investment, not an extraneous