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Three Ways to Build Recruiter Relationships

July 27, 2002
Related Topics: HR Services and Administration, Candidate Sourcing, Featured Article, Staffing Management

Asuccessful relationship with a third-party recruiter hinges on your abilityto express your needs and the recruiter’s willingness to listen.

"Recruiters need more than just a list of job skills to find qualitycandidates. They need to understand your culture and environment," says TomLucas, senior vice president of HR and employee relations at Adecco NorthAmerica, an international employment firm headquartered in Melville, New York.

Good recruiters research your work environment by asking questions andinterviewing employees. Once the relationship has been established, they stay intouch, calling periodically just to chat, or to let you know they’ve found ajob candidate who’d be perfect for you, even if you aren’t currently hiring."This is a personal relationship," he says. "You need someone whosejudgment you trust, who understands you, and is looking out for your bestinterest."

Finding that person can be tricky. "You aren’t going to get theinformation you need from the phone book," Lucas notes. "Recruiting is ahuge industry, and there are not a lot of standards to govern it." The bestway to find a good recruiter is to ask around. Turn to your network: ask yourpeers who they use for their own recruiting and who got them their jobs.

Also, think about the jobs you need to fill. Some agencies recruit for all positions. Others specialize in areassuch as HR, IT, finance, or trade skills. The one-stop shops are handy if yourhiring needs vary, but specialty companies will have better access tohigh-quality people with unique skills, and will have a pipeline of existingcandidates to fit your needs.

If your offices are dispersed, location may be another factor to consider.You want a company that can help you regardless of which city you are hiring in,Lucas says.

With these criteria in mind, narrow your search to a few companies and theninvestigate their style and approach. From the beginning, they should activelyseek information about your company and your core competencies. If they don’t,be skeptical, Lucas says. "If they come in talking about what they can do foryou, if they are arrogant and don’t listen to you or ask questions, then youshouldn’t hire them."

Before you make a selection, find out how accommodating they are, says CathyFyock, president of Innovative Management Concepts, a recruiting consultancy inCrestwood, Kentucky, and author of Get the Best: How to Recruit the People YouWant (Irwin Professional Publishing, 1993). Ask if they have flexible rates whenyou use their service more frequently, if they can customize invoices to meet your billingrequirements, or if they are willing to negotiate aspects of their contracts.To meet the budget constraints of customers, many recruiting firms will unbundle their offerings to be more competitivelypriced, allowing companies to purchase individual services such as pre-screeningor background checks.

If you can’t afford the full service, using recruiters just forprescreening can be valuable in today’s economy, since so many people arelooking for work, says Ron Griffin, regional marketing manager at Randstad NorthAmerica, an international recruiting firm based in Houston. "In the past youcould put an ad in the paper and expect 20 responses; now you get 400," hesays. "A staffing company can use all 400 résumés, but an HR person lookingto hire just one employee doesn’t have the time to wade through them all."

Once you find a recruiter you like, be prepared to commit time to building that relationship, sharing information about your company, it's culture, and it's values.

Fyock points out that although a lot of companies don’t have the recruitingbudgets they had five years ago, when the economy was booming, they still needrecruiting help. "By unbundling services, the recruiter maintains therelationship and the employer only purchases the services it really needs,"she says.

Once you find a recruiter you like, be prepared to commit time to building that relationship, sharing informationabout your company, its culture, and its values. "Give them your valuestatement, define your core competencies, and share your interview questions,"Fyock says. She also suggests allowing the recruiter to interview some existing employees to get a feel for who they are, and toparticipate in the first few screening processes to be sure they are asking allthe right questions.

It’s easy to find candidates who have basic skill sets. What you want isfor the recruiter to find people who fit into your environment, Fyock says. Arecruiter needs the information that comes with regular discussions about yourrequirements, and with feedback on why the candidates they provide either workout or fail. "Every time you give them feedback, they can translate that intotheir screening process," she says. "That means the next time you needsomeone, they will be able to respond faster, with better people."

Workforce, July 2002, pp. 74-77 -- Subscribe Now!

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