There are so many staffing agencies out there. How do I pick the best one for our organization’s needs?

You are right!  There are lots of choices but like anything else, you need to do your homework.  Start with a web search and check out their website.  Don’t get fooled by fancy language on the website – that’s nice but who are the people behind the website?  Do a google search on the “people” and see what articles and information you can glean from that.  Are they the type of people you want to represent your organization in the marketplace?  Do they have the history, credentials and reputation you would like to see?  Your brand is going to be represented by them.  Think about that!  Ask for references so that you can actually speak to some who can tell you what it was like to work with them.  Don’t just ask for client references but ask for candidate references as well.  You want to understand how they work through a recruitment process and how they treat the candidates who are applying to your open positions.  Many firms specialize in a particular area or niche.  That can be valuable and yet it can be limiting.  If you are truly looking for the best candidate, they may not come from your industry.  Hard as it is to believe, some of the best placements we have made in the past 25 years have been with candidates who have taken their skills and applied them to new markets.  The clients love it as they have a person on their team who thinks differently and sees possibilities where non existed before.  Candidates who cross over from other industries bring a wealth of information and insight and potential and should not be overlooked.  Working with a Professional Recruitment Firm who is willing to search broadly and not just in your market, might introduce you to some wonderful candidates you never would have thought of.

Invest in some time up front to search out your best options for a Professional Recruiter and you will not be disappointed in the results.

I am overwhelmed with recruiters calling me all the time to see if they can help recruit for some of our open positions. What should I be doing?

This is very annoying and can be such a time waster for you.  As the “in house” recruiter, whether you be the HR Manager or someone designated to doing recruiting, it can take up so much of your time when unsolicited recruiters call you.

First of all, find out if your company/organization has a policy around working with recruiters.  Is there a preferred vendor list?  If so, find out who is on it and stick with it until you can help change it.  There is no point in wasting your time with a recruiter who can’t be paid by your company because they are not on the list.  If you are happy with the service you are getting from the existing recruiters, there is no point making a change any time soon.  However, if you believe there is room for improvement, carve out some time in your week to actually take a call or two from those recruiters and ask them to walk you through their recruitment process.  If they are simply calling to “flog a resume”, they are not genuinely interested in working with you and developing a plan.  They should be able to properly articulate all the steps they go through to help you find the ideal candidate.  Listen to them and see if this is the type of person you can work with.  After all, you are trusting them with a large portion of your responsibilities so you want to be sure they are trustworthy!  Find out if they have the network and the “reach” capabilities to actually identify and recruit those “hard to find candidates” who don’t apply to postings!

You can make a change to another recruiter but don’t do it unless it makes sense for you and your organization.  Do your homework first and don’t switch just because someone presented you a great resume – see if they are in it for the long term with you!

Don’t be afraid to say “thanks for calling but we won’t be entertaining another recruitment firm in the near future”.  Sometimes, it is better to be direct and if the recruiter is listening, they will politely ask if they can continue to keep in touch with you in case your situation changes.  It only make sense – you don’t have time to waste.

Our company is having a terrible time trying to find top talent. We place ads and job postings but never seem to land the right candidate. What are we doing wrong?

Likely, you are doing nothing “wrong” but you could be doing it a bit differently!  First of all, have you considered working with a Professional Recruiter?  Remember, a recruiter is someone who does that for a living, day in and day out.  They know the “inside candidate market” because they are in it constantly.  If cost is a consideration, take a look at what you have spent in terms of lost hours on your job – doing what you do best, hiring inappropriately and having to terminate a person or having the vacancy cause stress and extra hours for those who are trying to pick up the slack at work.  If you start to add all those “hidden costs”, the investment in a Professional Recruiter is minimal.  Having said that, you need to be clear on what your budget will allow and tell your recruiter that.  Some recruitment companies will negotiate their placement fees.  Some will work “contingency” for you, meaning you don’t pay a dime unless you end up hiring from them.  The advantage there is, you can “see what they have” and compare to what you were able to find on your own and then decide if it is worth the fee to hire from their efforts.

One of the best ways to work with a Professional Recruiter is on a retained basis.  If you select a reputable one, you will not be disappointed.  It is as if they become an extension of your organization.  They will get to know what will work for you and what won’t in terms of “chemistry or fit”.  They will do their due diligence on how the new person will integrate into the role and become a productive member of your team faster and more effectively.   They will do the tedious work of organizing interviews and putting together appropriate questions so you are all set for your interview.  They will listen to you as you discuss the pros and cons of each candidate and help you narrow it down so you make the “right” decision for you and your organization at this time.   They will represent your organization with integrity so that a candidate will make an informed decision about joining you.  They will search the marketplace and not just wait for someone to apply to the role.  They will conduct reference checks and credential checks so you can rest assured the candidate “checks out”.  They will follow up with you to ensure the placement is going well and even help with “on-boarding” the candidate.

There is a general feeling that retained searches cost more, however when you factor in all the benefits of being able to hand this over to a trusted advisor, the investment becomes minimal with maximum returns.

I am in a great but confusing situation. Right now I am faced with multiple job offers! Last month, I could get an interview to save my soul and now I can’t decide. What should I do?

First of all, breathe!!  Be thankful you are in this position then pause and think about your original “wish list”.  If you are working with a professional recruiter who has presented you with a job offer from one of their clients, go through everything with them.   If you have been honest about your expectations the decision will be easier.  The recruiter should go through everything step by step with you so you can see what makes sense to move forward in your career.  Never look just at the job in hand but what the future might hold with a particular company or organization.  Don’t get caught up in the scenario of taking the “highest offer” only to find out that you are in a dead-end job or that you have joined an organization that won’t be around in a couple of years.

A great exercise to perform is to sit down and write a “pro/con” list.  On one side of the page put all the “pros” – all the things you like about the opportunity and offer at hand.  Then, on the other side of the page, write down all the “cons” – the things that you don’t like and even go as far as to mark the ones that are “deal breakers”.  For example, if an employer has offered you two week’s vacation and you know you must have four, find out if there is any “wiggle room “to start at three weeks and work your way up to four.

Negotiation of any offer is to be expected.  The great news is; your professional recruiter is trained to negotiate.  If they are truly working in the best interests of client and candidate alike, a win/win solution will come to bear.

I applied to many Recruitment Agencies and never heard back.

There are few reasons for this.  In the recruitment world, there are staffing agencies who have temporary, contract and direct hire openings, recruitment firms who only work direct hire and Executive Search Firms who typically work the upper end of the spectrum and are very focussed in a particular recruitment process designed specifically for their client.

When you apply to various recruitment firms and agencies, first ask what their policy is around sending your resume out into the marketplace.  You probably don’t want your resume going all over the place without your knowledge.  After all, it does contain some very personal information on it.  If a recruitment agency/firm, is as member of a Professional Association, they must abide by a strict code of ethics.  For example, in Canada, we have the Association of Canadian Search, Employment and Staffing Services ( ACSESS) and all of its members have committed to adhering to a code of ethics.

You may want to follow up with a telephone call once you send your resume in.  Don’t worry if you don’t get a “live” person on the phone, you simply want to leave a message to ensure that your resume didn’t get caught up in a spam filter.  Many staffing firms keep a very large data base so they can search it when they get new “job orders” in from their clients.  It never hurts to apply because something might come down the pipeline later when you least expect it.

What is the advantage of working with a Professional Recruiter when I am looking for a new job?

The advantages are many but let’s start with the first reason!  It won’t cost you a dime!   It does, however require an investment in your time and your commitment to be completely open and honest when you are working with a recruiter.  Typically, the recruiter works for the client company or organization from whom they receive compensation.  The fact of the matter is, they won’t be successful unless they can find qualified candidates for the role who actually accept the offer and become a productive member of their client’s team.  This is why it is so critical that you are honest as you work through the recruitment process with a recruiter.

You may send you resume into a recruitment firm and never hear back.  Although unfortunate, the fact of the matter is, you will hear if you are qualified for the particular role you applied to.  Typically, recruiters are busy filling search mandates from their clients and will not reach back out to you if you do not fit the current requirement.  Many, however will keep your resume in their data base until a suitable role becomes available.

You should think of a recruiter as another tool in your job search tool box.  They often have the inside story about roles that are not advertised and if you work with a reputable one, they will contact you when the right “fit” for you comes along.

When you are working with that special recruiter who really understands their client’s needs and has identified you as someone who might fit, it is a distinct advantage to trust them to present you … more than just a resume, they are able to “tell your story” to their client and perhaps give you the “edge” over other candidates who might just apply on their own to a posting they see on a job site.