All Recruiters NOT created Equal. A TELL-ALL guide on how to choose the right Search Firm

October 7, 2011

Ever run a search on Google, Yahoo or LinkedIn looking for a Recruiter – WOW you’d be shocked. Do it sometime just for fun. I did it the other day because I was curious and because I just like to know what’s going on in the recruiting field and who the players are. If you want to be the best in Recruiting, you got to know whose coming up the ranks. So as a very well seasoned veteran in the search business (ouch, it’s been over thirty years) I found the results eye opening.

Page and pages and pages…Everyone’s a Recruiter these days. Go figure – well everyone whose got five minutes of hiring experience is hanging out their shingle  for everyone to see – I am a “Talent Acquitition Specialist” and with the internet at everyone’s fingertips, there is a huge push to market ones wares no matter the qualifications and to individually brand promote. And why shouldn’t they right? Got a skill, push it. But seriously, how does the consumer (companies seriously seeking to engage a search firm or individuals needing to engage a recruiter to represent them) of the Professional Services & Executive Search industry really sort out who are the best to represent them. How can business and job seekers really benefit from what Recruiters have to offer.

So, let’s start with the basics –  step one, “Caveat Emptor” or Buyer Beware. There are  Recruiters and then there are RECRUITERS…and boy the difference is like dragging yourself through the Sahara Desert as opposed to sitting poolside with a cool drink in hand. Experiences with Recruiters are diverse and can be like night and day. A fantastically successful interaction between a Supply Chain Director and his recruiter results in a fruitful result. That same recruiter client combination can be a disaster for the CFO who wants to hire a sharp Business Analyst.  Why you ask? Well it’s simple. Doing a good check upfront about what a Recruiter excels in will guarantee the right result. It’s a well known fact that Recruiters who are Marketing guru’s are absolutely not suited for Finance placements.

Here’s a tidbit about expectations.  Recruiters are not Outplacement specialists so expect support but to a point. This is how they earn a living and their job is to move and shake and get their network moving for the benefit of their base of clients and candidates and to make deals happen. A good and engaged Recruiter should however have the time to spend to build a good relationship so as to work towards achieving results. If you and the Recruiter don’t gel, move on quickly.  There are some very committed Recruiters in this industry who really care and are really good. Need extra support, join some groups. HAPPEN is a fantastic resource.

There are regrettably a number of colleagues in the business (and we all know one or two of them)who still operate in the old style – like a ‘smasher and grabber’. You know, what have you done for me lately types, don’t return calls or don’t communicate in any way unless they can make an immediate buck. They are working a losing proposition but they do survive and they do have some good contacts just handle them with care. Certainly these people are not what to judge a terrific industry on.

PART-TIMERS, RECREATIONAL and STOP-GAP Recruiters make up a large part of the third party recruiting landscape these days. Well meaning, and by and large pretty well qualified at what they do, this group are pure generalists, Part-Time and Recreational Recruiters hang up their shingle as they pursue their real goals – An MBA, building a business as a life coach, or some other entrpreneurial venture. Called to action through their network, hobbyist recruiters don`t do recruiting often enough to be really good at it. They don`t really have the bench strength through their network to put companies and the really tough to find candidates together and to be of real long term value. Important to know who and what you are dealing with. Stop-Gap Recruiters are very good but they are here for a good time not a long time. Searching for their next corporate recruiter role, there are many terrific recruiters who between jobs, offer an excellent service to a small group of clients but it`s really important to know where their area of strength is to leverage off that appropriately.

Then there are the “Under One Yearers” who are eager and full of potential and promise. But let`s face it Recruiting is a really hard business to learn – there are a lot of knocks and the only way to cut ones teeth is by watching and making mistakes. We all did it, it`s what made us the Recruiters we are today. But, anyone with less than a year under their belt had better be under the watchful eye of a seasoned consultant. Better left to pure behind the scenes recruiting support, be absolutely sure to ask the Recruiter you about to hand over a piece of business to, how long have they been in Recruiting and what are their credentials. Do you know in all the years in the business, I have only been asked this a handful of times and that surprises me.

So, it’s really important to know the pedigree of the Recruiter you are dealing with. Ask the tough questions upfront? Know this, there are great Recruiters with firms of questionable reputations and really shoddy recruiters in some very well respected firms. In the last few years some Search Firms have been moving away from the generalist model where they have divisions for everything. Let’s face it, business leaders are more demanding than ever and the pressure is on for Recruiters to be highly skilled in a chosen vertical or two. No longer can Recruiters be all things to all people. That old model simply does NOT WORK.

Regularly we hear from companies who have chosen to partner with search firms that have NOT met their needs.  Also, job seekers have simply had enough of dealing with Recruiters who simply don’t understand the field they are in. More and more companies come to Argentus as specialists in Supply Chain Management, Procurement & The Retail Sector because  they are coming off trying to fill open Category Manager or Purchasing Lead roles which have been open for two and three months. Why, because of two things. They initially wasted their time trying to fulfil requirements where the demand for talent is very high and the supply is low and they also often failed to use a Search firm which was specialised in Verticals with the expertise to reach the passive candidate market  needed to fill those niche requirements.

More revealed very soon

Over and out



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