Part 9 of a 10-part series entitled, “10 Traits of the Best Contract Recruiters“
In the course of managing our business since 1999, we have interviewed and hired a number of highly successful professional contract recruiters. We intend to keep doing that and have worked to identify some of the traits we have seen in our best performers over the last 18 years.
Today’s blog is the ninth in a series of 10 that identifies the traits of our most successful senior recruiters. We hope this perspective will provide guidance to those new to contract recruiting, offer some insight to experienced recruiters who are always looking to improve, and give TA/HR leaders some ideas on what should be expected of a contract recruiter. We also hope that this will stimulate ideas and conversation that provide additional insight from readers of this blog.
A Strong Reputation: Added Value
The best contract recruiters we know typically have opportunities coming their way on a regular basis. These highly successful recruiters have created a strong reputation in the market for the added value they bring to their clients.
Added Value Defined:
An improvement or addition to something that makes it worth more
For a recruiter, this means providing a service that exceeds the expectations of the client and exceeds what the recruiter may have promised during their own interview. The lesson here is to be strategic and thoughtful about what you promise to a prospective client. Once you get on the job, you may encounter people, policies, practices, and conditions that can adversely influence what you can achieve. Lots of companies have never used the services of a contract recruiter and rely only on their internal HR team or staffing firms for recruiting. This is an ideal scenario for a great contract recruiter because these employers will not have experienced the level of service you can provide.
You can blow them away with your expertise.
A Rewarding Project
The most interesting and rewarding contract recruiting project I ever had was with a wireless technology company that had relied on search firms for recruiting. They had about 20 R&D employees at the time but had landed a monster contract with Sprint. They needed to get to 250. They never had an on-site recruiter. They set the bar high for the quality of talent they were willing to hire. Certainly, there was great value in sourcing and attracting the level of talent demanded, but we all understood that was a basic expectation.
Landing and retaining the best talent quickly was the challenge. The added value I brought to the client came in a few ways. One was my role as a coach and advisor to hiring managers up through the executive team. This took the form of strategic planning, budgets, branding, process, candidate selection, candidate management, closing on offers, and sometimes talking them out of hiring someone I recruited. I once had to advise them to retract an offer based on a dramatic change of attitude with a candidate after the offer was presented. I could see this person would not be a fit with the company culture.
The next area of added value comes from the time I saved hiring managers from all aspects of the process. It’s hard to put a price tag on this but the savings were substantial. They were able to focus their time on developing technology and leading their teams. Think about it. Why would you want an engineering manager running a talent acquisition process? That’s not what they do best and the risk of providing a poor candidate experience is very high. There may be communication delays, dropped balls and candidates lost because these managers may already stretched beyond their bandwidth.
Knowledge and Expertise
“Never hire someone who knows less than you do about what he/she is hired to do.”
You want someone managing the TA process who really knows what they are doing to best maximize the probability of success. Candidates need an advocate and the best recruiters are listening and closing with every step of the process. The best contract recruiters will make a difference by providing a highly organized and strategic approach. The cost of hiring the best contract recruiters is expensive, but the results of hiring a lesser skilled recruiter or trying to do it on your own could be a disaster.
The Greatest Indicator?
Maybe the greatest indicator of a recruiter’s added value is the retention rate of their hires. You are building your reputation with every hire. This is your legacy, for better or worse. High retention rates are not pure luck. It comes from having a deep understanding of both the client and the candidates. The best recruiters ask lots of questions and actively listen to both sides. In the example above, the retention rates were strong and my client’s hiring needs escalated dramatically in a hyper-competitive market for wireless technology professionals. I had proven the ability to provide the added value they needed to attract and retain top talent.
Bob Williams & I had been talking about forming our own company and this was the opportunity we needed. We proposed forming a consulting firm and providing a team of contract recruiters to support the client. They agreed and that’s how Williams & Sewell was launched in 1999.
10 Traits of the Best Contract Recruiters
Part 1: Pursue Contract that Leverage Your Strengths
Part 2: Client Relationship, Not an Employer
Part 3: Professional Curiosity and Pursuit of Knowledge
Part 4: Stay Organized and Communicate Efforts
Part 5: Respect the Dynamics of Being a Virtual Recruiter
Part 6: Factors in Determining Hourly Rate
Part 7: Should a Contract Recruiter Incorporate?
Part 8: Building a Business Case for Contract Recruiters
Part 9: The Added Value a Good Contract Recruiter Brings