By: Sam Starrett
Frequently, hiring managers and business owners engage the services of a headhunter without a full picture of what we do and what we can offer to them. In part, this is our own fault; too often, we sell ourselves purely on our ability to bring in strong candidates. It’s understandable why we do that. Most of the time, our clients come to us because they’re having trouble finding the right person, and it’s very logical for them, and us, to focus on that. However, there is a lot more to what we do, and I want to share some insights to shed some light on this.
When you engage a headhunter, you should avoid thinking of that relationship in narrowly transactional terms. You aren’t just “buying candidates.” Once, at a previous job, a colleague of mine fielded an email from a client who told her “The candidate you gave us is not performing. We would like to return her.” At the time that wording made me chuckle, but it was symptomatic of an overly narrow view of what a professional recruiter does.
I don’t want to give the wrong idea. We will deliver you candidates, and ultimately our success is judged on our ability to put the right candidate in front of you so you can get critical roles in your organization filled with the right people at the right time. If we don’t succeed in sourcing candidates, we don’t succeed at all.
At the same time, we are hiring experts, not just candidate sourcers. Above and beyond our candidates, we deliver expert advice and consultation on the hiring process – if you choose to take it. In a similar way, if you have a legal problem where tens of thousands of dollars or even your own liberty are on the line, you don’t just wing it and hope for the best; you engage an attorney. If you have a complex tax situation and are not knowledgeable about tax law, you don’t go it alone; you engage a CPA. The value that a professional headhunter brings is comparable.
With that in mind, I want to discuss something near and dear to my heart: candidate experience. In my opinion, candidate experience is the most underappreciated aspect of recruiting in practice. All too often, candidate experience is sacrificed in favor of rigid adherence to processes and procedures or to save a penny here and there.
If you are interviewing a candidate for a role that would require relocation, and that candidate says “I’d like to bring my spouse with me to see the neighborhood” or “I’d like to spend an extra night in a hotel so that I can explore the local area,” you should be happy to grant that request. The additional cost of a few hundred dollars shouldn’t even enter your mind. Think about what the cost of having an employee is, whoever you hire. Add together salary, bonuses, PTO, your contribution to their health benefits, the cost of a life insurance package if you offer it, the cost of training and travel if that is part of the role, and anything else you can think of. Then think about the fee you’re going to pay your headhunting firm, if you’ve engaged one. You’re paying all that because you believe you’re going to gain even more value from the person in this role. Comparatively, a few hundred dollars, or even a thousand, is a drop in the bucket. If the person is worth all that, what are the chances that a relatively tiny amount of money tips the scales, and now, all of a sudden it’s worth losing the person to save those pennies? To put it frankly, spend the pennies; the candidate is well worth it.
In my years in recruiting, I’ve placed a variety of different roles: metal fabricators, machinists, nurses, and now engineers, accountants, and others. I do my best to understand each job and what it entails, but I will never be the expert on what you do, whether it’s welding, or stock trading, or surgery. What I am an expert on is hiring. When you engage me, you can count on me not only to deliver quality candidates but to do everything in my power to give those candidates an amazing hiring experience. That is just one of the benefits you get in return for your investment in engaging The Headhunters, LLC., and you should expect it from any recruiter you engage. By the same token, if you choose not to make use of the advice and help your search firm provides you, then you are throwing away part of the money you spent on us. Don’t do that. When you pay our fee, make sure you use everything we offer.