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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  • Nice article regarding specialization. Executive Search Firms are a dime a dozen and its necessary to differentiate what you could provide to your clients that other firms can’t.

    I specialized in recruiting for nephrology nurses that provide the direct care of patients suffering from chronic kidney disease which requires dialysis treatments three days a week. Diabetes and Hypertension are the two main causes of kidney failure and both are on the rise, particularly among African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians/Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians/Pacific Islanders. It’s no small wonder that the risk for kidney disease is also much higher in these populations. African Americans, for example, are four times more likely to develop ESRD than Caucasians. The need for nurses of color have the opportunity to make significant contributions to the care, education and well being of minority patients with kidney disease.

    I do not have any demographic information about the percentage of racial and ethnic minority nurses currently in the nephrology nurses workforce however as I network in the industry nurses do agree that the representation is low.

    I strongly believe, as a former dialysis patient and person of color, having first hand knowledge of a minority kidney patients culture has been extremely helpful. When patients respond to nephrology nurses with facial expressions or hand movements that are unique to a certain culture, minority nurses pick up on those cues more easily because understand them. And they can help non minority nurses understand the background, experiences and responses to illness that are grounded in minority patients cultures.


    Gerald P. White