CEO Insider

The 4 Questions You Need To Ask Your Recruitment Specialist

Kara Atkinson

With more than 7,000 recruitment agencies in Australia (and most of them banging on your door), it is tough to decide who to work with in an indistinguishable market.  Every Recruiter out there is an ‘expert non-transactional specialist with a proprietary search methodology who has access to deep global networks.’

The reality is most recruiters are candidate brokers who focus on volume and speed, rather than quality.  They are working for free 90% of the time which means they need to spread the risk – and this is why your star candidate is shopped around to every other client they have.

How do you know you are working with the best?  

After almost 20 years in the industry and helping more than 1000 people into their next role, it has become a little easier to gauge who the high performing recruitment agencies are.  I may get some recruiters hating this article, but I can guarantee if you start asking these questions you will dramatically improve the talent acquisition process for your organisation.

Question 1: What are their Metrics?

What percentage of roles do they close? The 2017 Agency Recruiting Benchmark Report from Bounty Jobs notes the industry average in contingency recruitment is 10-20%.  Changing the agreement to a retained model increases the industry average to 80-90%. What is their interview to placement ratio?

Furthermore, there is lots of industry discussion about the value of passive vs active candidates.  A passive candidate is a candidate who is not actively seeking out a new job. As they are usually happily employed and not looking for work, it’s likely that the passive candidate is a valued employee making worthwhile contributions to their current place of work.

So, what is their ratio of passive to active candidates placed?  You want to hear a higher weighting to passive candidates. No-one wants a shortlist of the best people available at that particular time.  You want the person with their head down delivering a result, who is not even thinking about their next move.

What is their stick rate?  The percentage of their placed candidates still employed after 2 years? Check their metrics in their field of specialisation – how many Business Development Managers in Building Materials are there in Wollongong?

Question 2: What does their Search Process look like?

Stop the cloak and dagger movement of the industry and get them to open up the hood!  You want them to do more than show up with a stack of resumes.

  1. Research – how will they map the entire market?  And once it’s mapped, how will they determine who the top performers are?  How will they engage with them in this war for talent?
  2. Selection – how do they determine the shortlist?
  3. Due Diligence – will they facilitate working interviews for you?
  4. Retention – the recruitment industry is rife for a ‘bums on seats’ attitude.  So, what happens after they place a candidate – how do they ensure the candidate is embedded correctly?  And how do they ensure candidate retention after the guarantee period?

Question 3: Do they have an Off Limits List?

If they do, which companies are on this list? Recruiters typically can’t headhunt from their clients for a year or two past their last placement.  The longer the list, the less options you have available to you – this is a key reason why the larger search firms are not necessarily the best. Be very careful if they don’t have an off limits list – you’re not on it, even if you’re a client.

Question 4: How will they sell your Employee Value Proposition?

It is critical in this War for Talent your recruiter is creating a compelling invitation that will cut through all the noise in the market to ensure they are clearly differentiating you. If your recruiter is running around the market with poor messaging about your company, they are effectively poisoning the well.  This will make it so much harder for you to recruit down the road – candidates will be wondering why are you always recruiting and what’s wrong with that business? This is a real phenomenon in the candidate market.

Ask your Recruiter how they will embed themselves in your business to get it right.

Hiring is never easy.  According to a study by Leadership IQ, 46% of newly-hired employees will fail within 18 months, while only 19% will achieve unequivocal success.  It has never been more critical that you align yourself with the right talent acquisition partner.

Written by Kara Atkinson.

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Kara Atkinson
Kara Atkinson is an expert in recruitment with over 18 years in the industry. Kara created her own recruitment business 10 years ago, fuelled by the opportunity to help people continue to build and transform themselves through their career. Kara specialises in Sales & Marketing Executive Roles, recruiting across all industries and business sizes. Kara is an opinion columnist for the CEOWORLD magazine.