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Should you work with an employment recruiter?
When it makes sense - and how to do it right
By Tricia Molloy

Looking for qualified people to fill key positions at your company? Here's something to think about: The most qualified individuals for the job probably won't see your classified ads, because they're already happily employed and they aren't looking for a job!

That's why more and more companies today are using employment recruiters to help them find the key employees they need. A good recruiter will be able to help you seek out and find these qualified candidates and then advise you on how to best sell your opportunity to candidates who aren't necessarily looking around right now. Your recruiter can also perform in-depth reference and background checks and help negotiate an acceptable compensation package for both parties.

Choosing the right recruiter

So how do you go about choosing the right recruiter for your firm? Mike DiDomenico, vice president of the permanent placement division of the recruiting firm MSI International, offers this advice on how to choose the right recruiter or recruiting firm and how best to work with them.

"When evaluating a recruiter or recruiting firm, you should first consider the recruiter's knowledge and experience in your industry or the specific occupation you need," he says. "Also look into the recruiter's record of success (verifiable through references and endorsements) and the placement process utilized by the recruiter to surface and present qualified candidates in a timely fashion."

Successfully completing the search for a new employee involves a real partnership between you and the recruiter you have chosen, DiDomenico emphasizes. "You must be willing to commit the time to provide complete information to the recruiter and be willing to follow the exact placement process that the recruiter outlines to you in advance of the search," he advises.

If the opening is a highly critical or urgent need, DiDomenico says the best way to ensure that your recruiter gives it his highest priority is to guarantee exclusivity of the search to that recruiter. Often mutual exclusivity can be guaranteed by the payment of an engagement fee to the recruiter in advance of the search. In most cases, paying some money up front also carries with it a discount in the total fee to be paid.

Here are the main things DiDomenico says the recruiter will need to know before beginning the search:

• Exactly what is unique about your company and opportunity that will attract candidates from other companies?

• What is the profile of your ideal candidate, including education, experience, skills and the personality you are looking for?

• Which companies or industries is the candidate most likely going to come from?

• How urgent is the need, and exactly when do you want this person to start work?

A recruiter's checklist

Once you have answered these questions, it's the recruiter's responsibility to present qualified candidates for your review. DiDomenico presents the following checklist of things you should generally expect the recruiter to do for you:

• Conduct research of the marketplace to include your direct and indirect competitors and determine additional companies that employ candidates with desirable skill sets.

• Complete a list of targeted companies and candidates and review and revise this list with you.

• Conduct in-depth telephone interviews with candidates to ascertain three things:

Do they have the appropriate background?
Are they willing to change jobs for the right opportunity?
Will their career goals be satisfied by your opportunity? These are the candidate's "hot button" issues, such as salary expectations, level of management responsibilities or location.
• Present to you a short list of qualified candidates (submit their resumes, provide results of in-depth reference checking and discuss the results of their in-depth candidate interviews) and then arrange the first face-to-face interviews with you.

• Prepare both the candidate and you for the first interview (including both of your "hot button" issues).

• Debrief both the candidate and you, and professionally release any candidates you do not wish to pursue.

• Arrange second interviews and discuss any concerns with you.

• Provide sources for education verification, credit history, motor vehicle records, drug testing, etc.

• Verify the candidate's earnings and negotiate a compensation package to be offered to ensure satisfaction of both parties; then transmit a verbal offer to candidate and relay acceptance (hopefully!) of offer to you.

• Consult with candidate about his or her resignation and (if necessary) counter-offer.

• Confirm start date (candidate will confirm in writing) and remain in contact with both parties through the start date and initial phases of employment.

• Verify with you that the project was successfully completed.

By understanding what you should expect from a recruiter - and what the recruiter expects from you - you will help ensure a smooth working relationship with the recruiter and greatly increase your chances of finding the right candidate for the job.


Tricia Molloy is president of Molloy Communications, a public relations firm that specializes in promoting professional services and business consultants.

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