Recruiting the Recruiter

Things to know before choosing an executive search firm

If your company is searching for a recruiter or headhunter, ask these questions to find out if he can has what it takes to get the job done:

What are your areas of expertise?

Recruiters should have training in a variety of industries. Find out if the companies they’ve worked with are comparable to your own. Ask if anyone in the company is licensed or has experience working in your industry. You don’t want a finance recruiter searching for a marine scientist position, says Graham.

Are you a retained search or contingency search firm?

Contingency recruiters work on a commission basis. If they find a candidate for your position, they get paid. Otherwise they don’t. On the other hand, a retained search firm is paid a predetermined fee for a specified amount of time to fill a specific position. They are paid whether the position is filled or not. Retained search firms have more specialized expertise, but “you have to really do your homework when engaging a retained search firm,” Graham says. If the firm is unscrupulous they will require you to pay a fee even if they are not exhausting their resources to fill the position.

How long will it take you to fill the position?

If a recruiter says they can fill positions immediately, that should be a red flag. If they tell you it will take 60 to 90 days, that is a bad sign, too. Unless it is a complicated, high level, top secret position, such as the CFO at NASA, the average position should be filled in 30 to 60 days, Graham says. “You want someone who will work the contract and not drag it on.”

What is the retention rate for the candidates you’ve placed? What is your placement rate?

Find out a recruiter’s track record. Burks says that a company’s retention rate will let you know if the placements they’ve made are good matches. “You don’t want to hire someone today and then 10 months from now the company needs to fill the position again,” he says. The placement rate will warn you about recruiters who are hired to do 90 searches a year, but only fill 20 positions in that year.

What is your guarantee period and refund policy?

Some retained search firms offer a 90-day guarantee. Ask the recruiter within what time period will they replace a candidate for free if the candidate quits or is fired under extenuating circumstances. Alternatively, will they provide a full or partial refund or credit towards that position or another position in the future?

To learn more about the skills a recruiter should have or to find a recruiter for your small business check the following Websites below:

Resources — A social networking community for recruiters. — National Association of Personnel Services — National Registry of Certified Staffing Industry Professionals — The National Association of African Americans in Human Resources.

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