9 Tips for Employers, 9 Tips for Third-Party Recruiters

Recruiters should be truthful, resourceful, and trustworthy. Employers should be reasonable and accessible. Read on for invaluable advice for both sides.

For Employers

Be loyal. If you find a productive search consultant, stick with them. Don’t be a fair-weather client. When you need their services, call them. Don’t re-educate a new consultant for every new opening you have. Constantly looking for a new consultant every time an opening occurs is like a one-night stand…dangerous and counterproductive to developing beneficial and meaningful relationships.

Be truthful. If you don’t work with placers or recruiters, or if you only work with a select few, say so. Don’t lead them on. If you do decide to work with a placer or recruiter, give them all the details of the assignment. If you turn a candidate down, tell your consultant the real reason why unless you want to keep looking at misfits. Time is too precious to waste…for both of you.

Be reasonable. Overstating needed qualifications or understating the salary dollars available just muddies up the waters. Don’t require a Master’s degree for a job needing a trade-school graduate.

Be accessible. Return phone calls promptly. Failure to do so can cost you a shot at the “perfect” candidate. Ignoring phone calls is a gambit reserved for dolts and egomaniacs. You never know when you may need a favor (or a job).

Don’t over-control. Allow your consultants reasonable access to hiring managers. Departmental culture can only be discerned by direct contact with hiring supervisors or managers. Unless you know every job as well as your own (an impossibility), recognize that your consultant may have a better handle on the real qualifications than you do. After all, it should be you and your consultant against the problem: the unfilled opening which is costing your company money.

Don’t be a tire-kicker. Don’t give out speculative job openings or use consultants to supply you with sources of competitive market or salary information from candidates you have no intention of hiring.

Don?t be a bargain-hunter. If you feel the fee for the service is too high or the guarantee period is too short, use another hiring alternative. You’ll probably end up paying about the same with a lot more lost time and you won’t get any tenure guarantee for a hire through the newspaper. “Blue-light specials” only exist at Kmart. A consultant’s time and expertise is all they have to offer. If you find one who’s willing to work for less, you can expect to get less of their time, and their expertise is probably second-rate.

Respect your consultant. No one knows more about the job market than a personnel consultant. No one! If your consultant tells you your candidate wish-list is unrealistic, he or she is probably right on target.

Be ethical. Attempting to avoid or evade a fee you owe can have devastatingly expensive repercussions. The last thing you or your company needs is to be on the target list of every recruiter in town.

For Recruiters and Placers

Respect your client. Don’t think that you have a God-given right to every opening the client has. Let’s face it: some openings can be filled less expensively through alternative methods of hiring. And every opening doesn’t require a superstar. Some just need a warm body, whether the client realizes it or not.

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Don’t negotiate away your fees. Discounting from your normal fee schedule requires that you provide less than full-service. It also implies that you’re charging too much to begin with. If a client company demands a bargain basement fee, be truthful about those vital things you won’t be able to do during the assignment. And be willing to walk away if they persist. Leave the grief to someone else.

Be truthful. Hyperbole has no place in the placement process. If the candidate lacks the reasonable minimum requirements for the job, don’t give them a degree they don’t have or the years of employment they haven’t worked. Client wish-lists can be frivolous at times, but they are the result of committee decisions that are hard to adjust.

Be resourceful. Companies are not interested in warmed over file-dwellers, net-surfers, or ad-answerers. They can get them on their own. Recruit the talent necessary to fill the opening. Be inventive and enterprising. Water-walkers occasionally surface through advertising or the Internet, but your most talented candidates don’t know you exist until you call them.

Be reasonable. If a company representative has a rational procedure for the hiring process, try to follow it. If it is unreasonable or unjustifiable, find a new client to work with. Unwarranted guidelines are promulgated to keep you at bay with a company who really doesn’t want to work with you anyway

Be tenacious. Remember that being pushy is not the same as being persistent. Recognize the difference.

Be trustworthy. Ethics and principles are their own rewards. Sharp-shooting and corner-cutting carry a heavy price for you and the industry you represent. Before moving into a gray area, think about how your actions would look as the headline for tomorrow’s newspaper.

Recognize your limits. If you aren’t skilled in the specialty needed, don’t fake it. Better to be up-front about it than to live with a botched reputation for failing to level with the hirer or the candidate. Over-promising is for amateurs. Stick to what you know.

Be proud of what you do. You are part of an admirable and honorable calling. Acting otherwise demeans you and your profession.

Paul Hawkinson is the editor of The Fordyce Letter, a publication for third-party recruiters that's part of ERE Media. He entered the personnel consulting industry in the late 1950's and began publishing for the industry in the 1970's. During his tenure as a practitioner, he personally billed over $5 million in both contingency and retainer assignments. He formed the Kimberly Organization and purchased The Fordyce Letter in 1980.


7 Comments on “9 Tips for Employers, 9 Tips for Third-Party Recruiters

  1. Paul,
    Excellent! Now here is some REAL meat and Potatoes about the recruitng industry. The stuff that really goes a long way – good substance Paul! Would not have expected any less..

    Can’t wait to see more! Welcome on Board, and congrats..

    Karen M.

  2. Paul, I have enjoyed your work with The Fordyce Letter since I started my career as a Third-Party Recruiter. I am glad that you are now a part of ERE; I have been deleting much of what has come to my Inbox from ERE lately because I began to feel that they were marginalizing the TPR. It is my hope that your contributions will bring a much-needed balance to ERE’s publications in the future.

  3. Hi Paul;
    Grear article as it is, it hits the nail on head with ‘ Ignoring phone calls is a gambit reserved for dolts and egomaniacs.’
    Its all about communication between the Client and the Consultant. Every channel of commnunication possibe should be optimally used, which apparently is not. Consequently, there are interview re-schedules and drop-outs. These overheads are expensive in time and money. So prompt feedback at the end of every process should be there from sides.

  4. I especially liked the comment, ‘Be proud of what you do. You are part of an admirable and honorable calling. Acting otherwise demeans you and your profession.’

    We are in a great profession and really help people achieve their potential.

  5. Great article! I would add one more for both sides: Take the time to get to know the person on the other end of the phone. Employers should ask more questions about the consultant, their process, their qualifications, etc.

    Recruiters and Placers should find out who they are talking to. Are you talking to a HR Manager, Generalist or Corporate Recruiter. What are their qualifications, what is their involvement with the search, where are they in the process.

    I think articles like this will go a long way in helping the recruiting process and I’d like to see more. Nice job.

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