Tips for Working With Recruiters

Tips For Working With Recruiters What should I expect from my third party recruiter who is working with our organization on a “contingency basis”?  There is a fundamental difference in terms of “scope of work” when you consider engaging a recruiter on a “contingency” versus “retained” basis.  If you have chosen to “retain” a recruiter, your expectations in terms of deliverables should be very high.  You want them to have completed a thorough “vetting” process and bring only those excellent candidates forth who are worthy of making a “short list”.   They will be, in fact, your right hand person throughout the entire recruitment process.   On the other hand, if you are asking a recruiter to work with you on a “contingency” basis, they know that they have a much lower chance of actually closing the placement with you and making their fee.  What that means is you will not have their “undivided” attention to your needs.  What can you do to ensure you get more of their attention to your search than other searches they might be working on?

Here are a few pointers:


  1. Make it an exclusive agreement – you will not use other recruiters while they are engaged in this search for you.  Of course, if they don’t come up with results in a reasonable amount of time, you should expect to be able to put this search out to other contingency recruiters.  Make sure you are comfortable that your recruiter has the appropriate “reach” for the type of candidates you are looking for before committing to an exclusive arrangement.  If they are part of a network, such as NPA Worldwide then you can have the confidence that they will have the resources to find excellent candidates for you.
  2. Pay a nominal “engagement fee”.  This can really up the ante with respect to attention of your search assignment.  In effect, you have given them a small portion of their overall potential fee so they are beholding to you (ahead of any other contingency search they may have on the books.)  If you can’t pay an Engagement Fee then see if you can offer a “cancellation fee” in the event you need to cancel the search because you found someone better on your own.  The value of having a recruiter on contingency means you have a chance to compare your candidate to those who are being submitted by the contingency recruiter.
  3. Get back to your recruiter with IMMEDIATE feedback once they have submitted candidates for your consideration.  Even if you haven’t heard back from the hiring manager, at least get in touch with your recruiter and tell them that.  Nothing is more discouraging for a recruiter than to have done all the work in getting resumes over to you, only to sit and wait for a response.
  4. Do all you can internally to move the recruitment process along at a good pace.  In today’s market where extraordinary talent is in high demand, too many recruitment processes break down because of lack of feedback and movement down the hiring continuum.  Candidates get mixed messages when they are confidentially considering your opening while still employed with another organization.  It makes things very unsettling and they are more likely to pull themselves from the process.
  5. Pay your invoice on time!  Don’t make the recruiter come after you only to find that you had it sitting on your desk and didn’t approve it and send it to payables.  Once the work is completed to your satisfaction, the recruiter deserves to be paid on time.  Often the bill is paid many months after the search process started ( in contingency work, the recruiter doesn’t get paid until their candidate is hired)
  6. Periodically, thank the recruiter – preferably in writing for a job well done.  Nothing increases the relationship with a recruiter like a simple “thank you”.
  7. Offer to be a reference for their services to others.
  8. Refer a business colleague to them. 



Thinking about your next career move – late in the game?

Often, we are approached by senior leaders who have reached a point in their career where they are either taking “early retirement” or wanting a significant change. For years, they have developed so many skills and abilities and yet, they do not feel fulfilled in what they are doing. Some may have been “squeezed out” of their companies, making room for younger up-and-coming professionals. Spending
2/3 of your time working and not believing you are “making a difference” can be really deflating.

When I am asked, “What should I be doing at this stage in my life?,” I often suggest that the person think about applying their leadership skills and networking abilities to the Not-For-Profit sector. There are some that still think that the typical NFP organization is “sleepy” – not forward-thinking – and basically a placeholder in one’s career. Nothing could be further from the truth!

With government cut-backs in terms of funding, all NFPs are facing significant challenges in continuing to fund their operations. Those organizations who have boards who are “forward-thinking” and “proactive” are already taking the steps necessary to bolster operational leadership in order to ensure the sustainability of their respective agencies.

I have witnessed first-hand the transformation of well-intentioned Not-For-Profit organizations as they consider hiring from outside of their sector. Strong leadership skills and business acumen coupled with compassionate dedication for the particular cause, have proven to be a powerful combination in gaining traction where there is significant competition for funding, resources, and skilled workers.

Thinking about your own career and all your accomplishments? How about volunteering at an NFP on a committee or board. If you do, you will quickly see how things “work” and you might want to consider applying for a leadership role as the “next step” in your career.

How Do I Know When I’m Ready to Make a Career Move?

F.E.A.R. (False Expectations Appearing Real) can be a big deterrent when it comes to self-career management.  It is never easy to deal with change and it is particularly stressful when it comes to your career.  Many people put so much pressure on themselves to have everything “absolutely in order” before they make up their minds to even look at another career option.  You will be missing out on opportunities if you get stuck early in the process by “analysis paralysis”.  One of the best ways to keep your career options open is to develop a trusting relationship with a well respected, recruitment professional who will grow to understand what constitutes an excellent career fit.  Understand however, that they are not in the business to “find you your next career move” but rather they are one of the “tools in the toolbox” in order to facilitate such a life changing event.  It is also a good idea to keep your resume up to date.  Rather than scramble at the last minute to put something on paper, keep a list of things you actually do at work so you can develop a clean resume with minimal effort.  Make sure the things on your resume are relevant to the opportunity you are considering.  Don’t be afraid to take the first step and at least have a conversation about a new opportunity.  If you don’t open a door, there is no way you can walk through it.

How to Successfully Prepare for an Interview

Congratulations – you’ve made it the interview stage!

Now what?

Interview prep, of course. With nearly 30 years interviewing and recruiting candidates, we have comprised a list of important tips to consider when preparing for an interview.

  1. Visualize Yourself in the Role Already

By visualizing yourself in the job, you will naturally express your answers with confidence, enthusiasm, and determination. This will help with the pre-interview jitters everyone gets.

  1. Do Your Homework

You should expect that a potential employer will want to see what you know already about the company. This indicates your level of interest, and an effort to research and appreciate the work a company does. Take some time to visit the company website, learn about the company’s previous achievements, and find out who will be conducting the interview – title, personality, what they are looking for, etc. Ensure you know the location of the company and even take a practice drive to the site. Make sure you are not late and be 10 minutes early. However, do not be too early as this will send a similar message as being late (i.e. 30 minutes is too early).

  1. So Much is Said with the Unsaid

Make sure to dress professionally, even if the environment you are working in is casual – the interview is formal. At minimum, a sharp suit or conservative dress in dark colours with clean shoes will present well. Ensure your handshake is firm – practice with someone if need be – and maintain eye contact with the person asking you questions. Bring a copy of your cover letter, resume, and note pad.

  1. Talking Money

Do not initiate the conversation about the compensation package. The time will come for this, but you do not want to imply that this is most important to you.

  1. Ask Questions

Always come prepared with questions for the interviewer. This may be more natural for some than others, but you really do want to consider thoughtful questions about the role and company. This is an opportunity in the interview where you can again showcase your excitement in the role.

  1. Wrapping Up

If the answer is not readily provided, do ask what the next step looks like. Be sure to offer your gratitude for the interview.

  1. After the Interview

Send a thank you email or letter to the interviewing member(s). Make this letter short, professional, and to the point, again offering thanks for the opportunity to interview with them.