Using Recruiters: Best Option or Last Resort?

Do your clients use your services because they offer the best option for success in filling the position or do they choose to use your services only as a last resort, after they have exhausted all other options? Or, perhaps they choose the middle ground where they use the services of many firms as an adjunct to their own efforts?

Regardless of the answer, it is important for you to know “why” a Recruiter should be an employer’s best option for filling a critical position. However, before we get to the “why”, understand the following two realities that will greatly influence the prospective client’s decision.

1. The prospect must believe you are good at what you do, i.e., recruiting.

2. The prospect must believe that you can access and deliver the talent they require?

Regardless of the logic of your presentation, if the prospective client does not become convinced on these two points, you will not be chosen as their best option. The key, if you are good at what you do, is to present yourself and your service in a manner that projects objectivity.


If you absolutely, positively must make the sale, you are working at a disadvantage because you will be emotionally compromised from the outset.

Keeping this in mind, from an objective point of view, why should an employer choose a Recruiter as their best option?

REASON ONE: The Recruiter’s criteria for accepting business requires a commitment from the client to work through a process for carefully qualifying the opening. This insures the focus will be on hiring an individual who can do the job, not just an individual who does well on the interviews.

A good Recruiter knows that the search must begin with the end result in mind, i.e., in specific and quantifiable terms, how will the client measure performance in this position? Three months and six months down the line, how will the client know whether or not the employee is performing successfully in the position? What constitutes success in this position?

When a good Recruiter begins their process (or the description of that process) by focusing on the end result instead of just filling the position, the client should have greater confidence in the Recruiter as well as in their own ability to make the right hiring decision.

If the Recruiter then follows up by defining with the client the essential job functions and the specific, realistic criteria that must be met by a candidate in order to properly perform these functions, the entire process begins with everyone on the same page, the right page. In contrast to their usual approach to filling positions, the client will be better focused and equipped to work successfully with the Recruiter. This alone should increase the likelihood that the Recruiter will be chosen as their first, best option.

REASON TWO: A good Recruiter can access a broader range of qualified and interested candidates than any other resource.

Qualified and potentially interested candidates fall into one of three categories.

Active: These are the candidates who are engaged in an active job search. Their employment status notwithstanding, these are the candidates who flood the Internet with their resumes. Their search strategy is overt and if they are any good at all, there is strong competition from many fronts for their services. At any given time, this group represents approximately 10% of the qualified talent pool.

Semi-Active: These candidates are currently employed but have made a decision to change jobs. However, because of the sensitivity of the situation, they must conduct their job search in a covert fashion, relying on networking, referrals and personal contacts for their job leads. They generally do not post their resumes on the Internet and only pursue opportunities when they are confident the exposure will not jeopardize their present employment. This candidate grouping represents approximately 15% to 20% of the qualified talent pool.

Non-Active: These individuals are not seeking a change. They are currently employed and totally unaware that a better opportunity may exist for them with another employer. Since they are non-active, the primary way to reach this group of approximately 70% of the qualified talent pool is through the confidential approach of a third party Recruiter.

With only 30% of the qualified talent pool in an active or semi-active job changing mode, employers who do not utilize the services of third party Recruiters, shut themselves out from approximately 70% of the qualified talent pool.

While a competent Recruiter may consider candidates from both the active and semi-active groups, their recruiting skills and carefully cross-referenced network of contacts allow them to confidentially approach the non-active talent pool as well. They do not have to restrict themselves to the readily available candidates where the competition for a limited sector of the talent pool is the greatest.

The first and most important element of an effective hiring strategy is to attract qualified and interested candidates to step forward and willingly enter the selection process. With the assistance of a good Recruiter, the employer can attract to the process a greater number of these qualified and interested candidates thereby exponentially improving the likelihood of a successful hire.

REASON THREE: The process a good Recruiter executes on behalf of their client will dramatically decrease the likelihood of qualified and interested candidates withdrawing themselves from consideration.

Whether an inability to create and hold interest because of timing or presentation, many hiring Managers experience greater than a 40% fallout from the early defection of qualified candidates. In other words, approximately two out of five candidates that a typical employer would seriously consider hiring, withdraw from the process before an offer can even be presented. That represents a costly loss of resources that may be difficult to replace.

Through pre-qualifying their interest and carefully orchestrating the assessment and interest building steps of the process, good Recruiters can help insure that qualified candidates remain active and interested for as long as they are under serious consideration by the employer. And, when the employer has made their final hiring decision, the Recruiter will make certain the candidates not selected are informed in a professional and sensitive manner.

REASON FOUR: Having a good Recruiter involved in the process will greatly increase the likelihood that the candidate selected will accept the hiring offer.

When a Manager extends an offer that is rejected, nobody wins. Publications ranging from the “Wall Street Journal” to Fortune” and “INC” magazines have highlighted this as one of the most serious threats facing Corporate Hiring Managers in America today. Many companies are experiencing up to a 50% rejection rate on their offers. When you factor in the time wasted, the loss of productivity, including the Manager’s and the need to jump start an entirely new hiring process, the costs of an offer rejection can literally be staggering.

A good Recruiter will work closely with their client to insure the offer is constructed and presented in a manner that will gain a quick acceptance. By re-qualifying the candidate’s interest throughout the process and pre-closing the candidate on the specifics of the offer, the Recruiter can all but guarantee an acceptance without the need for after-the-fact negotiations.

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Additionally, a good Recruiter will have at least one other finalist who is also pre-qualified, pre-closed and ready to accept an offer if, for any reason, the client’s first choice is unable to accept. When it comes to staffing an organization with top-talent, this is the type of insurance that is more than cost-justified.

REASON FIVE: A good Recruiter, through the implementation of a customized transition strategy, will minimize the possibility that the candidate selected will accept a counteroffer or change their decision after the fact.

Worse than an offer being rejected, a candidate who accepts an offer and then does not start as agreed has more than wasted everyone’s time. They have placed the hiring Manager in a precipitous position because in many instances, they must begin the process all over again. Without the intervention of a third party Recruiter, a no show rate of 20% or greater is not unusual for many Managers.

A good Recruiter designs a customized transition strategy for each client and candidate they serve. This strategy begins with the pre-qualification of the candidate to fully identify motivations for job change (both push and pull factors), followed by the proper matching of these motivations to a specific client and position. The Recruiter carefully guides the selection and hiring process along, making certain that all questions are answered, concerns addressed, and that each party is properly prepared for offer and acceptance.

Once the offer is accepted, the Recruiter carefully leads the candidate through the “minefield” of resignation and counteroffer rejection. Then, together with their client, they implement the final stages of the transition strategy, that which keeps the newly hired employee focused on the opportunities of the future with their new employer (see TFL – 02/01 – “Counteroffer Alliance”).

There are no absolute guarantees where human behavior is concerned. However, having a good Recruiter coordinating a well planned transition strategy, a strategy that helps insure the new employee will be properly welcomed, integrated, and utilized by their client will all but eliminate the possibility of a “no show,” counteroffer acceptance, or second guessing.

REASON SIX: By developing a long-term relationship with a good Recruiter an employer will never again have to settle for mediocre performance from anyone on their staff.

For most Managers, filling open positions represents a high priority. However, a more insidious challenge is what to do with the mediocre employee; the employee’s whose performance is just good enough not to get them fired yet compromises the productivity of the entire team (see TFL – 08/02 – “Why Manager’s Condone Incompetence”). Many times, Managers are reluctant to terminate such an employee because they fear having another open position. After all, “isn’t somebody better than nobody?” Not if that “somebody” isn’t performing at a level that reflects the Manager’s or organization’s standards for achievement.

Consider for a moment the objectivity a Manager can bring to their interaction with a mediocre employee when they’re confident, if they so choose, of quickly upgrading the position. This is a reality that can be achieved when an employer develops a solid working relationship with a good Recruiter.

From their previous work together, the Recruiter will possess an in-depth knowledge of the Manager and their organization. Consequently, they can respond immediately to the Manager’s needs and quickly bring qualified and interested candidates forward for consideration.

Of even greater importance, the Recruiter will be in a position to bring interested and qualified candidates to the attention of the employer whether or not an actual opening exists. These individuals will be top performers with specific skills, abilities and experience that are in high demand. By doing so, the Recruiter is literally providing the client a right of first refusal on some of the best talent in the marketplace. The competitive advantage provided by this type of relationship can be substantial for the client’s organization.


Given a choice, most employers would prefer to have an on-going relationship with a good Recruiter who is only a phone call away from meeting their need for mission critical employees.

Presented objectively and backed up with the ability and commitment to deliver results, the six reasons listed above should be more than enough to convince an employer that choosing to use a good Recruiter is in fact their best option for achieving success.

As always, if you have questions, comments or need more information on this subject, just let me know. Your calls and e-mails are most welcome.

Terry Petra is one of our industry’s leading trainers and consultants. He has successfully conducted in-house programs for hundreds of search, placement, temporary staffing firms and industry groups across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, England, and South Africa. To learn more about his training products and services, including “PETRA ON CALL”, visit his web site at: Terry can be reached at (651) 738-8561 or e-mail him a:

Recipient of the Harold B. Nelson Award, Terry Petra is one of our industry's leading trainers and consultants. He has successfully conducted in-house programs for hundreds of search, placement, temporary staffing firms and industry groups across the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, England, and South Africa. To learn more about his training products and services, including PETRA ON CALL, and BUSINESS VALUATION, visit Terry can be reached at (651) 738-8561 or click to email him.


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