“When I need a heart by-pass, rest assured that I won’tselect my surgeon on the basis of what he charges.”
That’s what anailing executive recently opined when he was informed by his doctor about hisarterial blockage problems.
Why then arecorporate executives so tightfisted when dealing with what is so commonlythought of as the “heartbeat” of their companies . . . top-talent?
Companies thinkvery little about paying the often excessive fees charged by their outside accountingand legal firms . . . or even to the gaggle of consultants who promisecost-cutting and streamlining miracles in other areas of operations.
Yet, when facedwith brain drains, talent deficiencies or the need to replace one employee witha better one, their thoughts too often turn to parsimony. This K-mart mentalitybelies and contradicts their stated objectives to “hire the best,” especiallyat pecking order levels below the “big picture” executive suite inhabitants.
Of courserecruiting fees can vary from firm to firm but, when they do, you will almostalways find that those on the low side are sure to exclude some very keyingredients of the process, all of which are vital to providing theindispensable services necessary to satisfy the needs of the employer.
So why arerecruiters worth what they charge? Just a few of the often unspoken reasonsare:
Expertise – Nobody knowsthe employment marketplace better than a professional recruiter . . . nobody!In-house human resourcers, no matter how effective, view the marketplacethrough an imperfect or misrepresentative prism and tunnel vision is theiroccupational hazard.
Just asphysicians are cautioned against treating members of their own families, so toois it folly for an in-house H/R professional to believe that they have anundistorted and unbiased picture of the employment landscape. They arevulnerable to the pressures of internal politics and cultural dimensions whichdo not hinder the outsider.
Street-smartrecruiters already know the neighborhood, including the unlisted addresses sooften overlooked by the insiders.
Cast a wider net –A professional fisherman will always have more to show than a weekend angler.Recruiters are in the marketplace day in and day out. They know the unfishedcoves, reefs and inlets that are unknown to others. The job-hunter bookshelvesare filled with lore about the “hidden job market.” The same holds true forprofessional recruiters who have a detailed roadmap to the hidden talentsources which will never be accessed by newspaper ads, alumni associations,applicant databases, job boards or any of the other more familiar sources ofpeople.
There areoccasional pearls through these sources (and someone inevitably wins thePublisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes too) but you have to shuck an awful lotof smelly oysters to find them. Recruiters only give you oysters proven tocontain pearls. Your only job is to determine which pearl is the best.
Want to catchwhat you’re fishing for? Hire a guide!
Cost – There is amisconception among employers that the cost of a hire equals the cost of theads or Internet postings run to attract the person hired. Nothing could befurther from reality.
Try addingthese to the true cost and you’ll see just how cost effective an outside recruitercan be:
Salaries andbenefits of the employment/recruiting staffs plus those of the line managersinvolved in the hiring activity (who are not productive in their normal jobpursuits when they’re out recruiting); travel, lodging and entertainment expensesof in-house recruiters; source development costs; overhead expenses includingbut not limited to telephone, office space, postage, PR literature, applicantdatabase maintenance, reference checking, clerical costs to correspond with thehundreds of unqualified respondents, etc.
Unbiased third party input– Contrary to what some believe, recruiters don’t try to put square pegs intoround holes. A recruiter’s stock-in-trade is their integrity and theirreputation for finding someone better than a company could have found forthemselves.
For a mid tosenior-level executive, the average recruiter may develop a “long list” of ahundred or more possibilities. Each must be called and evaluated against theposition specifications as well as the personality “fit” with the company andthe people with whom they will ultimately work. Once this is winnowed down tothe “short list,” an even more intensive interviewing process begins to narrowthe search to a panel of finalists for review by the client.
This process isnot, as some believe, simply romping through the file cabinets, harvesting fromthe Monster lookalikes or putting the job opening out to others on therecruiter’s network with crossed fingers that someone good will show up.
It is highlyunlikely that a professional recruiter will be plowing new ground with youropening. They deal within spheres of influence far more familiar with yourneeds than any internal recruiter and, more often than not, view the finalistsas people who are competent to solve client problems rather than just fill anopen slot in the organizational chart.
Because theywant to do business with you again and again, they are looking for (andchallenging you to excellence by hiring) the “truly exceptional” rather thanthe “just satisfactory” so often settled for by in-house hirers.
Confidentiality –Advertising or otherwise publicly proclaiming an opening, aside from its costand demonstrated ineffectiveness for sensitive senior level openings, oftencreates anxiety and apprehension among the advertiser’s current employees whowonder why they aren’t being considered or worry about newcomer transitionproblems. Just as often it alerts competitors to a current weakness or voidwithin the company.
Speed – The recruitingprocess is always faster through a search professional who is continuallytapped into the talent marketplace than one having to start the process fromscratch. For every day that a key opening remains unfilled, a company’s otheremployees must grudgingly do double duty. And this doesn’t factor in the profitopportunities or competitive advantages lost to a company because a positionremains unfilled or is done on a part-time basis by others less qualified.
Post-Hire Downtime –Not only is speed an essential part of the professional recruiter’s process,the ability to locate a person who can immediately “hit the ground running”with a minimum of “ramp-up time” saves time after the hire. All too often, ahire selected through less effective sources offering a smaller talent poolrequires several months of expensive training and orientation.
Reality – Professionalrecruiters often recognize and have a duty to inform clients that they may bemistaken as to the type of person sought, the salary required to attract themor the possibilities that the solution might just lie in areas outside thetraditional target industries . . . something an internal recruiter ispolitically disinclined to do. Too many hirers fail to understand that aprofessional recruiter’s primary function is not necessary to fill a slot butto provide the right candidate to solve a problem.
Negotiation –Master negotiator Herb Cohen says that, “negotiation is the analysis ofinformation, time and power to affect behavior . . . the meeting of needs(yours and others’) to make things happen the way you want them to.” As abuffer and informed intermediary, the professional recruiter is better able toblend the needs and wants of both parties to arrive at a mutually beneficialarrangement without the polarizing roadblocks which too frequently materializein face-to-face dealings.
Prioritizing company resources – It is often amazing to see how much of a company’srevenues are squandered on non-productive perks for existing high-levelemployees while they penny-pinch on what is every company’s lifeblood . . .talent acquisition.
Clubmemberships and the like may be fine, but no one with an IQ higher than ForrestGump’s believes that these expenditures substantially contribute to a company’sprofit margin. But one well-placed employee can be the cause of a company’sprofits skyrocketing. And the fee for having hired these people pales toinsignificance when compared to the contributions they make to the bottom line.
The next timeyou think a recruiter’s fees are too high, put them in the proper perspectivebefore asking for that Blue Light special or spinning your wheels thrashingabout trying to fill vital openings with less effective (but not necessarilyless expensive) pedestrian methods. Savvy executives learned long ago that thefee paid to a recruiter is a shrewd strategic investment, not an extraneousexpense. They also know that the “best” is far different from the “best available.