I need a heart by-pass, rest assured that I won't select my surgeon on the basis
of what he charges."
That's what an ailing executive recently opined
when he was informed by his doctor about his arterial blockage problems.
then are corporate executives so tightfisted when dealing with what is so commonly
thought of as the "heartbeat" of their companies . . . top-talent?
think very little about paying the often excessive fees charged by their outside
accounting and legal firms . . . or even to the gaggle of consultants who promise
cost-cutting and streamlining miracles in other areas of operations.
when faced with brain drains, talent deficiencies or the need to replace an employee
with a better one, their thoughts too often turn to parsimony. This K-Mart mentality
belies and contradicts their stated objectives to "hire the best," especially
at pecking order levels below the "big picture" executive suite inhabitants.
course recruiting fees can vary from firm to firm but, when they do, you will
almost always find that those on the low side are sure to exclude some very key
ingredients of the process, all of which are vital to providing the indispensable
services necessary to satisfy the needs of the employer.
So why are
recruiters worth what they charge? Just a few of the often unspoken reasons are:
Nobody knows the employment market-place better than a professional recruiter
. . nobody! In-house human resourcers, no matter how effective, view the marketplace
through an imperfect or misrepresentative prism and tunnel vision is their occupational
Just as physicians are cautioned against treating members of their
own families, so too is it folly for an in-house H/R professional to believe that
they have an undistorted and unbiased picture of the employment landscape. They
are vulnerable to the pressures of internal politics and cultural dimensions which
do not hinder the outsider.
Street-smart recruiters already know the neighborhood,
including the unlisted addresses so often overlooked by the insiders.
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 unfished coves, reefs and inlets that are unknown to others. The job-hunter
bookshelves are filled with lore about the "hidden job market." The
same holds true for professional recruiters who have a detailed roadmap to the
hidden talent sources which will never be accessed by newspaper ads, alumni associations,
applicant databases, the Internet or any of the other more familiar sources of
There are occasional pearls through these sources (and someone
inevitably wins the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes too) but you have to
shuck an awful lot of smelly oysters to find them. Recruiters only give you oysters
proven to contain pearls. Your only job is to determine which pearl is the best.
to catch what you're fishing for? Hire a guide!
a misconception among employers that the cost of a hire equals the cost of the
ads run to attract the person hired. Nothing could be further from reality.
adding these to the true cost and you'll see just how cost effective an outside
recruiter can be:
Salaries and benefits of the employment recruiting staffs
plus those of the line managers involved in the hiring activity (who are not productive
in their normal job pursuits when they're out recruiting); travel, lodging and
entertainment expenses of in-house recruiters; source development costs; overhead
expenses including but not limited to telephone, office space, postage, PR literature,
applicant database maintenance, reference checking, clerical costs to correspond
with the hundreds of unqualified respondents, etc.
Unbiased Third Party
Contrary to what some believe, recruiters don't try to fit square
pegs into round holes. A recruiter's stock-in-trade is their integrity and their
reputation for finding someone better than a company could have found for themselves.
a mid to senior-level executive, the average recruiter may develop a "long
list" of a hundred or more possibilities. Each must be called and evaluated
against the position specifications as well as the personality "fit"
with the company and the people with whom they will ultimately work. Once this
is winnowed down to the "short list" an even more intensive interviewing
process beings to narrow the search to a panel of finalists for review by the
This process is not, as some believe, simply romping through the
file cabinets or putting the job opening out to others on the recruiter's network
with crossed fingers that someone good will show up.
It is highly unlikely
that a professional recruiter will be plowing new ground with your opening. They
deal within spheres of influence far more familiar with your needs than any internal
recruiter and, more often than not, view the finalists as people who are competent
to solve client problems rather than just fill an open slot in the organizational
Because they want to do business with you again and again, they
are looking for (and challenging you to excellence by hiring) the "truly
exceptional" rather than the "just satisfactory" so often settled
for by in-house hirers.
Advertising or otherwise
publicly proclaiming an opening, aside from its cost and demonstrated ineffectiveness
for sensitive senior level openings, often creates anxiety and apprehension among
the advertiser's current employees who wonder why they aren't being considered
or worry about newcomer transition problems. Just as often it alerts competitors
to a current weakness or void within the company.
recruiting process is always faster through a search professional who is continually
tapped into the talent marketplace than one having to start the process from scratch.
For every day that a key opening remains unfilled, a company's other employees
must grudgingly do double duty. And this doesn't factor in the profit opportunities
or competitive advantages lost to a company because a position remains unfilled
or is done on a part-time basis by others less qualified.
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, a hire selected through less effective sources offering a
smaller talent pool requires several months of expensive training and orientation.
Professional recruiters often recognize and have a
duty to inform clients that they may be mistaken as to the type of person sought,
the salary required to attract them or the possibilities that the solution might
just lie in areas outside the traditional target industries . . . something an
internal recruiter is politically disinclined to do. Too many hirers fail to understand
that a professional recruiter's primary function is not necessarily to fill a
slot but to provide the right candidate to solve a problem.
Master negotiator Herb Cohen says that "negotiation is the analysis of
information, time and power to affect behavior . . . the meeting of needs (yours
and others') to make things happen the way you want them to." As a buffer
and informed intermediary, the professional recruiter is better able to blend
the needs and wants of both parties to arrive at a mutually beneficial arrangement
without the polarizing roadblocks which too frequently materialize in face-to-face
Prioritising Company Resources
It is often amazing
to see how much of a company's revenues are squandered on non-productive perks
for existing high-level employees while they penny-pinch on what is every company's
lifeblood . . talent acquisition.
Club memberships and the like may be
fine, but no one with an IQ higher than Forrest Gump's believes that these expenditures
contribute to a company's profit margin. But one well-placed employee can be the
cause of a company's profits skyrocketing. And the fee for having hired these
people pales to insignificance when compared to the contributions they make to
the bottom line.
The next time you think a recruiter's
fees are too high, put them in the proper perspective before asking for that Blue
Light Special or spinning your wheels thrashing about trying to fill vital openings
with less effective (but not necessarily less expensive) pedestrian methods. Savvy
executives learned long ago that the fee paid to a recruiter is a shrewd strategic
investment, not an extraneous expense.
Reprinted with the kind permission