Lead Dominate Prosper: 10 Hidden Benefits to Working With a Recruiter

Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.  – Sun Tzu

The Chinese version of Hiring Greatness: How to Recruit Your Dream Team and Crush the Competition, is being marketed as Jim  Collins’ Good to Great meets Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.  I couldn’t be prouder.

About twenty years ago I was a last minute ‘filler’ at a monthly breakfast networking event for high tech business owners.  I was both  honored and terrified because the first speaker was a local legend and I was an unknown recruiter new to the tech world.  I knew I needed to grab the attention of the 600+ attendees or they’d sprint for the exit at the earliest chance.

What follows below is pretty much my entire presentation, minus a few colorful comments.    I mirrored David Letterman’s stylized Top 10 Count Down monologue.  As I did not have a drum I encouraged the audience (harangued really) to bang coffee spoons against their fine bone china cups for effect. 

So in order, here are the Top 10 Benefits to Working With a Recruiter, which I still stand by today.

Hidden Benefit #10:  Create Value

The ability to quickly harness new technology and talent to capitalize on global markets creates the foundation for startling value creation.  Your CEO has an idea and wants to move on it – yesterday to maintain first mover advantage. When you need to move fast and keep it quiet, you need the commitment of a recruiter who understands your industry.  Or perhaps, that a major role in your company is unfilled, or that an individual is going to be let go, a search firm can keep your employee hunt confidential. They can probe the market without revealing your company’s identity, and even reach out to employees at your competitors. They can guide candidates through the early stages of the hiring process without betraying your trust.

Recruiters spend every day, day in and day out, finding the specialized candidates you need. They attend professional conferences and seminars talking to passive candidates and turning them into active candidates. They have in-house databases of thousands of candidates that do what you are looking for whom they can reach out to instantaneously to address your need. Recruiting executives takes dedicated time, focus and resources.

Hidden Benefit #9:  Successful Hires… Long-View Hires

When you engage with a retained recruiter they will focus full-time on your search and employ all of the tools at their disposal including: networking, sourcing, selective head-hunting, proprietary knowledge of your industry, and more.

Following a successful series of interviews where you select your ideal candidate, they will also handle all the financial negotiations, putting them self in your shoes and representing your organization as though they were you. They’re attuned to industry trends, those of your marketplace and of your competitors. The net result is successful hires. Long-view hires. People who will set your company apart. People who will help you soar.

Hidden Benefit #8: Satisfy Stakeholders

Recruiters have access to the best of the best candidates wherever they may be.   They bring reliability to the project.  They have credibility with hiring managers and candidates. It’s quality not quantity. Using a recruiter who is well known makes your internal staff more comfortable you are doing everything possible to fill their need, and that the candidates that will be sourced will be on target. Moreover, a recruiter that is well known in the marketplace by the top candidates guarantees your search will be seen as credible making it much easier for you to select from the best of the best.  Now you know why they wrote Guerrilla Marketing for Job Hunters, and spend time and money on perfecting the products and services at www.GM4JH.com the book’s web site.

Hidden Benefit # 7: Candidate Engagement

A professional recruiter can enhance the candidate experience.  The drive to create value in an intensely competitive marketplace; a fluid, mobile workforce and unpredictable global environment; the demands of investors and stakeholders; the economic fallout when strategy fails. This is the context of today’s internal human resources function.  Working closely with you, they put together position profiles that fit your business culture and leadership models while remaining sensitive to changing workplace and workforce issues and evolving management styles.

Then they turn to their corps of library and market researchers and to their own bleeding-edge information services and database resources for direct sourcing of world-class candidates. They will then mount an aggressive 1:1 marketing campaign to deliver your opportunity straight to the targeted executives highlighted by their research cadre.  Today your ideal executive candidate already has a job – a good job and one they like.

Hidden Benefit #6:  Shorten Your Time to Market

Recruiters know how to package your position and your company to attract the best candidates. You know how to define your company, but recruiters know what aspects of that definition will appeal or repel candidates. They can match the candidate to your culture guaranteeing   the fit.

They will shorten your time to market because they’re experts at defining your need and understanding what your ideal candidate really looks like. If need be they will warn you about Purple Squirrels if something is impossible or at least explain you the impact that will have on the search and the salary you will need to pay. The best recruiters have such long tenure they can give you the pros and cons of your job description and set your expectations realistically so You won’t need to see as many candidates to get a top person hired. Specialized recruiters will have already screened the B and C candidates out.

Hidden Benefit #5:  Be Nimble

Recruiters can help you seize new opportunities quickly so your organization can move faster. In the old days (5 years ago), a talent search was like a two-dimensional board game. It allowed a company a leisured amount of time to send out requests for resumes, which could then be judged along a price/performance set of axis. It allowed for a precise, two dimensional grid, and a search process so structured and simple that judgments could be handled by a corporate H.R. Department’s less skilled staff.

Now, the world moves in three dimensions, at a speed more resembling a video game. It’s Zap or get Zapped, in a real time. In such a fast-paced dogfight, you need to define your missions very carefully: no wasted energy, no blurred vision. The right people are even more important to find than ever before. You need a team of people who think in three dimensions; nothing else will do.  You need a recruiter who will be your success partner.  One who’s nimble and can think in terms of a fast-action, complex world.

Hidden Benefit #4:  Up Your Value

A good search consultant can be an excellent sounding board for your internal clients and stakeholders. They will help drive the selection process by focusing the client on critical hiring decisions. They can also establish a trusting relationship with the candidate and help to sell, mediate, negotiate, resolve issues or questions, and close the deal.  Independent recruiters will also focus efforts on the likelihood of a “yes” when the offer is eventually made. I’m very certain that most managers do not have the skills needed to coach and troubleshoot all the reasons a candidate would say “no.”  In fact, it would be very unlikely that a candidate would share with the employer the reasons for a potential “no” until it is too late. Independent recruiters have the position with a candidate to ask what a staff member may never uncover.

Hidden Benefit #3:  Continuous improvement

Recruiters offer a method for continuous improvement. Why stop recruiting after you fill the job? If you can keep your staff focused on the core business but have a recruiter looking to replace the weakest player on your team, you will be on a path to continuous improvement. Don’t hire one at a time, hire always. Professional recruiters give you this freedom.

Hidden Benefit #2:  Increase retention

Recruiters know how to attract talent. Recruiters are experts when it comes to understanding a candidate’s intrinsic motivation for considering a new job. They can separate the wheat form chaff. They are trained in how to assess a candidate’s hot buttons and ‘sell’ to them so they are less likely to lose the best candidates. There is likely only one best candidate for your open job and they should be handled by an experienced recruitment professional, someone that does this 20 times before breakfast?

Hidden Benefit #1: Lower Your Cost of Hire

Commitment requires time and resources. Experienced recruiters will employ rigorous techniques to locate, identify and evaluate top candidates for your project.  They also work on “your” search exclusively. You’re buying their exclusivity, which allows them to focus on your needs, which produces quick results with qualified candidates. What other professional group can you work with that will work on a pay-for-performance basis?  What other professional group guarantees their work even though they have little control over the quality of the hiring manager? Most candidates leave because they don’t like the company or the direct supervisor and the recruiter has little to no control over those two contributing factors, yet a recruiter will guarantee their work – some for up to a year. Many recruiters have been around for decades. They understand candidate and client personas then match the candidate’s value-systems to a client’s unique requirements to ensure a perfect fit.  They’ve built their business on relationships – usually one search at a time. Those relationships allow them to find talent that would otherwise lie fallow or worse, go to your competition.

Hidden Benefit BONUS: Competitive Intelligence 

Headhunters and search firms can be an excellent source of market knowledge on topics such as compensation, organizational structure, and talent mapping.  Executive recruiting is science and art; proven approach and infinitely flexible process. The information gleaned from a single Confidential Candidate Brief can change a organization’s fortunes and helped it achieve its potential faster.

That morning I learned why it didn’t matter if you followed a legend, so long as you were engaging.  That talk lead to many opportunities, chief among them a cover story in Canadian Business and a 15 documentary on Perry-Martel’s recruiting practices with CBC Television and an offer to write a biweekly article for Silicon Valley North which of course lead to the Guerrilla Marketing for  Job Hunters books with Jay Conrad Levinson.