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Sourcing Candidates

Working with Recruiters

Sometimes you can hire on your own, and sometimes you need outside help. Whenever you’re hiring for a technical position you’re unfamiliar with or an executive role, consider working with recruiters. They have access to high-level candidates through their networks, and they have experience hiring for the roles you need filled. If you’ve never worked with recruiters, here are 10 tips to get you started:

Look for the best recruiters.
Try to find recruiters who specialize in your industry or the role you’re hiring for. Check their backgrounds to see if they’ve been around for a while or have a strong reputation.
Meet in person.
Don’t just communicate with recruiters over the phone or, worse, via email. It’s important to meet in person, at least for the first time, so you can see if you’re well-matched. This can help recruiters assess your company culture, too, to find candidates that best “fit” your office.
Discuss their recruitment plan.
Ask about their recruiting process and where they finding candidates. Good recruiters will already have a strategy, so this discussion will help you evaluate their abilities.
Understand the exact fees.
Most recruiters require a certain portion – usually 20% – of the annual salary for the role being filled. Even with a set fee, it’s important to ask questions to make sure you completely understand the price. For example, if the candidate negotiates for a higher salary, will the fee reflect the newer salary or the older one? Are there any other associated costs?
Create a timeline.
The final hiring date doesn’t have to be set in stone, but having an idea of when you’d like the new employee to start can help everyone prioritize. Let recruiters know, too, how many interviews you’d like to conduct with candidates or any other important steps in your company’s hiring process. You should also establish how often you’d like to touch base with recruiters to check on the search.
Share all the information you have.
The job advertisement is just the starting point for recruiters. When you meet with them, give them as many details as possible. Are there any preferences you have that aren’t listed on the ad? What are the salary and benefits being offered? Which requirements are flexible and which are mandatory? The more information recruiters have, the better their chances of matching you with the perfect employee. In addition to this information, you should give recruiters a company profile, including company size, overview of culture and specifics on the team the new hire will be joining.
Listen to their advice and feedback.
This is especially important with recruiters who specialize in your field or the job you’re looking to fill. Recruiters have outside experience with many different companies, so they may have different perceptions than you. If they think any requirements are too strict or if the salary is too low, consider reevaluating the description or benefits.
Give honest feedback.
Whenever recruiters send you a candidate, take the time to give the recruiters your honest opinion. Your comments, whether positive or negative, will help them find the best candidates for you.
Ask to see background checks.
It’s a good idea to let recruiters handle background screenings, but you can ask for results, just in case.
Walk away if it’s not working.
If it’s been a while and you haven’t seen a single candidate you’re interested in, don’t be afraid to change recruiters. Switching will save you both a lot of time in the long run.

Internal Candidates

It may be quicker, easier and cheaper to hire internally, but it’s not always the best choice. Does the position you’re filling require a fresh outlook or new way of doing things? Or does your company need stability right now? Consider these pros and cons before posting to a job board or sending an email to your employees.

Why you should hire internally:

Lower costs: Internal hires always cost less than external hires, both in terms of salary and hiring costs. You don’t need to pay for background checks or drug tests, and a pay increase will typically be more modest than the salary you’d pay a new employee.
Faster: As mentioned above, a current employee has already been background checked and drug tested, plus you’ll have quick, easy access to current references. Since the employee is already working for you, there shouldn’t be any delay on a start date either. Additional hang-ups – like hiring paperwork, response times, salary negotiation or company orientation – also won’t be an issue when hiring an internal applicant.
Increased engagement: Internal mobility goes a long way in motivating and engaging your employees. If they know they’ll have opportunities to move up through your organization or transfer to another position, your employees will be more likely to stay with you for longer and provide better work.
A sure thing: Current employees are far more likely to accept a job offer than external applicants, who may be interviewing at dozens of other companies or who may suddenly back out for other reasons.
Less training time: Since internal candidates already understand your company’s policies and procedures, training time – both formal and informal – should be decreased.

Why you should look for outside hires:

Less knowledge: By hiring an internal applicant, you won’t be able to get information on other companies, and you’re potentially missing out on an entirely new point of view. If your company focuses on hiring for culture, always hiring internally can lead to a creative rut.
Replacement hire: Unless your company or the department is being restructured or downsized, you’ll still have to hire someone new to fill the employee’s former position. If the employee is being promoted to a higher-level role, filling an entry- or mid-level position with an external hire may be easier, of course. But at the end of the day, you’ll still need to spend time and money to hire a new employee.
Demotivates rejected employees: Be careful to handle rejection properly, or you may end up demotivating current employees who apply for, but do not get, jobs. Similarly, if an internal applicant is passed over for another coworker, there may be friction between the two.
Losing a good employee: If an employee excels in his or her current role, you’re losing out on their contributions in that area. You can hire a replacement, but there are no guarantees that the new hire will work out – or that your current employee will perform as well in the new position.
Less skills: Internal candidates may know how your company runs, but they may require more job-specific training than an external hire with previous experience.

Employee Referrals

Dozens of independent studies show that employee referrals make for better, smarter hires. The studies typically report that referrals are more likely to be hired, stay with your company longer and produce higher quality work than non-referral candidates. Hiring referrals also saves you time and money during the recruitment process since you don’t have to wait for applications to roll in, nor do you have to pay fees to staffing agencies or recruiters, which are always higher than any rewards given to employees for quality referrals.

On the other hand, if your referral program isn’t managed correctly, referrals may not be the best source for finding new hires. Relying too heavily on employee referrals can lead to office cliques or a lack of diversity, which may be grounds for a lawsuit or fines. Even worse, a poorly managed referral program can cause your current employees to actively disengage if they feel the program is unfair or that their referrals are ignored.

To keep your employee referral program effective and positive – or to start a new referral system in your organization – follow these best practices and policies:

Create or boost awareness
It’s not enough to simply list your referral program in employee handbooks or send out a one-time email about it. Make the referral program visible to all employees by hanging signs in employee break rooms or cafeterias, or including a section on your employee and career sites. Always mention the person who made the referral when introducing the new employee to coworkers.
Limit who can refer candidates – and who can be referred
Employees in charge of hiring or managing a position should never be allowed to submit referrals for that particular position. While your company’s executives or senior managers may refer candidates for positions, they shouldn’t receive any rewards for doing so. Former employees shouldn’t be suggested as referrals, nor should employees submit immediate family members or spouses as part of the referral program.
Set clear, formal policies for how to refer candidates
If employees don’t know how to refer someone, they won’t participate. Create referral forms or provide submission samples, and include specific guidelines for the referral process, such as who to submit referrals to and what information to include.
Communicate with employees who submit referrals
While key hiring information should be kept confidential, don’t leave employees in the dark as to whether their submissions have been received and evaluated. Aim to respond to referrals within three days, and try to give any updates to employees in a timely manner.
Reward for good referrals
The number one motivation to get employees to participate in referral programs is to offer an incentive. Most referral programs extend money to employees whose referrals get hired, although products or services your company provides, or non-monetary perks like paid time off, are also good rewards. Although many companies only offer rewards once a referral has been working at the company for 90 days or longer, these policies may lead employees to feel slighted if their referrals have to leave the company for personal reasons. Instead of tying rewards to lengths of employment, offer a bonus if a referral stays for a certain amount of time. Similarly, consider offering smaller rewards – such as premium parking spaces or $5 gift cards – to employees who submit strong, high-quality referrals who do not get hired.
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Jaime Lizotte
Hosted by Jaime Lizotte,
HR Solutions Manager
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