Selecting an Independent Recruiter – 5 Tips for Employers

by Terri Piersma

Employers have many choices in selecting an outside recruiter to assist them in finding qualified candidates for open positions.  A recruiter may work for one of a variety of entities including an independently-owned firm or a publicly-owned firm.  Today, my post focuses on selecting an independent recruiter from an employer’s viewpoint.

If you, as an employer, decide to hire an independent recruiting firm, consider the following 5 points before you invest time in the relationship (assume you are looking for a recruiter focusing on contingency recruitment):

1.    Recruiting Experience
For how long has the person been working as a recruiter?  Is the person committed to the area of recruiting?  Is the individual interested in professional development?  Does the recruiter have any professional credentials from the recruiting industry association in the recruiter’s country of operation?

2.    Knowledge and Capabilities
Does the recruiter’s knowledge and capabilities match those of your company?  Is the recruiter familiar with your industry?  Is the recruiter able to assist you in finding all the candidates you need or only those in certain niches?  Does the recruiter work for a recruiting firm that offers additional services  your firm could use including contract  and temporary services, background checking, employee leasing, psychometric testing, and HR consulting?

3.    Geographical Reach
Does the recruiter have the ability to meet your geographical needs?  For example, if you have locations around the world, does the recruiter have an informal or formal network of recruiters that can assist the recruiter in international searches?  Remember, a well-connected small firm is just as capable as a franchise with locations around the world.

4.    Integrity
Before you actually work with a recruiter, you will need to follow your instincts regarding integrity.  One idea is to find out if the recruiting firm or recruiter is a member of an association or network that has a selective membership process.

5.    Commitment
As always, this goes both ways. Are the recruiter and you in agreement as to your levels of involvement in finding a candidate for an open position?  Are you each interested in a long-term relationship or a short-term relationship?  Will the recruiter continue as your account manager after the position is filled or will a different account manager be assigned who you will need to re-educate on your firm and industry?  Is the recruiter committed to spending time on finding you qualified candidates for your open positions?  Are you willing to connect the recruiter with the hiring manager to increase the likelihood of a successful hire?  Are you both willing to communicate regularly to keep each other informed about the status of the search?    It is essential that you and the recruiter each have a clear understanding of what is expected from each other.

Next time you need to hire an independent recruiter to assist you in finding a candidate for an open position, consider these five points.  Are there any other considerations you have found to be important when hiring an independent recruiter?

Social Media for Recruiters Continues to Evolve

by Dave Nerz

I was recently invited to sit in a on a demo of a new social media tool created by an ATS provider. The topic of social media for recruiters is a big part of this applicant tracking software company’s focus. They have been working to make social media recruiting easier for the recruiter.

It got me thinking about the complexity of the tools and the likelihood that the typical recruiter has the time and knowledge to leverage all the social media tools that are available. It also made me consider the probability that the average recruiter has a strategy for their social media recruiting. Without a strategy, it is impossible to effectively leverage the existing tools and the new tools may make a strategy even more necessary. It made me realize the project this ATS provider is involved in is very valuable to the recruiting community. It also became obvious that the creators of the native applications like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter, just to name a few of the social media tools for recruiters, were missing the way the tools were being used by this sizable and paying audience of users.

So where will the next generation of social media tools take us? Will the makers of LinkedIn figure a way to integrate with ATS tools like PCRecruiter, Bullhorn and Taleo. Or will it be the ATS providers that need to integrate with the social media for recruiters? Or worse yet, will LinkedIn resist the interface and make the tool less usable? The time and talent being wasted by recruiters doing the interface on their own is significant.

It seems that one of the big issues to address is the ability to target the appropriate recipients of social media recruiting messages at the appropriate time. I think we all view social media tools as intrusive when they are used to spam a message to an uninterested audience. I don’t want to know about engineering jobs in Russia or nursing jobs in Brazil. So the next generation of social media tools needs to allow the social media recruiting message to be  to targeted to those with an immediate connection, a relevant network, or a pending piece of news that makes the message connect.

The next generation of social media for recruiters might also acknowledge the difference between friends and a business network. Seems that the two are blending but I’m not sure everyone likes the blended use of social media tools. It might just be me, a generational thing, or a style thing but I really do not have long business discussions with friends. Likewise I don’t invite my business network to let loose at parties with friends. Yes there is a blend at times, but some things just don’t need to be connected. Do I really need to see a job opening in the social media tool that captures pictures of family vacations, letters to lost high school classmates, and a health update from Granny? Not too be overly dramatic on this issue, but there are reasons you don’t put power outlets in the shower, as there is a good reason the washroom and the kitchen are kept in separate spaces.

OK, maybe it is just me? What do you think the next generation of social media for recruiters will look like? Do you see anyone making it happen?

Independent Recruiters: Don’t Offer to Refund Your Fees!

by Veronica Blatt

I had the opportunity recently to listen to industry trainer Bill Radin talk on the subject of why recruiting fees are nonrefundable. I agree with Bill 100% on this topic and have often wondered WHY independent recruiters offer “money back” if a placement doesn’t work out.

Bill’s points are valid:

  • An employee is a person, not a piece of merchandise. If you buy a widget and the widget is defective, it makes sense for the manufacturer to guarantee the performance of its product.
  • There is a limit to the kinds of things that can be guaranteed. Bill comments, rightly, that he can guarantee to follow applicable employment laws during the selection process, but he can’t guarantee the future performance of a person. I would add that he also can’t guarantee that his client will live up to their end of the agreement – that the work will actually be what was promised, etc. Bottom line: you can’t control other people, only your own actions.
  • The money that is paid to independent recruiters, many of whom work on a contingency basis, covers real costs for real time and real work. Just because the placement didn’t work out, doesn’t mean the recruiter’s professional activities didn’t take place.

Clients have been conditioned to think that recruiters are obligated to provide a money-back guarantee. I disagree strongly. And just because “everyone else is doing it” doesn’t make it a smart decision. Remember what your mother said about your friends who would jump off a bridge?

If your clients insist on a money-back guarantee it shows they aren’t willing to share the risk with you. Maybe they don’t truly value your service. Maybe they don’t want to invest in a long-term strategic partnership. Maybe they aren’t as committed to a successful outcome.

Bill suggests a non-refundable advance deposit for clients who can’t get past the idea of a guarantee. At least that way, he argues, the costs for your activities are covered. I think it’s a great strategy.

If you’re an independent recruiter who offers refunds, why do you do it? If you don’t offer refunds, what other strategies have you found successful?

Image courtesy of nirots at

“Lurking Evil” for International Recruiters?

by Dave Nerz

Vacancy Clearing, a UK-based recruiter networking organization, reported that as many as 1/3 of all Fortune 500 and Fortune 10,000 companies are signed up with Bounty Jobs. That is a big number. If this is a trend that continues, the world will look very different for international recruiters in the years ahead.

If you are not tuned into Bounty Jobs, the concept is simple and also alarming. Employers come and place their job openings on the Bounty Jobs site. Recruiting organizations visit the site and bid to work the jobs that are posted there. The bad news is that the candidates submitted may become the property of the employer, recruiting partners are working in competition with many other recruiting organizations, and employer fees are typically reduced from the industry “norm” of 20-25%. If you are successful in making a placement, the fee is collected by Bounty Jobs and the recruiter introducing the successful candidate gets paid after the rebate period is past and about 4 months after the deal was done. Oh, did I mention that the recruiting organization gets only 75% of the deal?

The solution is not all that complex, but it is not as easy as going to a website. If all international recruiters invested some time in developing more recruiting partners, it may minimize the “lurking evil” that is taking hold in the industry. There are thousands of recruiter networks. Join a recruiter network on LinkedIn or online today; they are free and offer peer support on many issues. Reach out to recruiting partners and make a connection. There are split-fee networks like TEAM in the UK and NPA, The Worldwide Recruiting Network, working globally. These organizations facilitate split fees. Splits are typically a 50% fee model where you determine the percentage for a candidate and maintain “ownership” of your relationships with candidate contacts. You also develop relationships that produce more than one deal. Recruiting partners can help smooth the ups and downs of your business model in a way that allows you to maintain margin and work on a cooperative and healthy basis.

Reach out to a fellow recruiter and minimize the “lurking evil.”

Split Placements Help International Recruiters Fill Clients’ Needs

by Veronica Blatt

Today’s post is courtesy of guest blogger Kimberley Chesney. Kimberley is the owner of Prime Management Group in Canada, with offices in London and Kitchener (Ontario) and Victoria (British Columbia). Kimberley is a long-time volunteer for NPA, currently serving as Chair-Elect on the NPA Board of Directors.

As the world gets smaller, so does the need for recruitment outside of a local network.  In order to properly service their clients, international recruiters are finding unique ways of making placements.

It isn’t necessary to have a branch office in each location where their clients reside, as it is possible to make splits with other international recruiters who share the same passion and values within the recruitment business.  Being flexible is the key to conducting a successful split.  It doesn’t always have to be 50/50 but it does have to be agreed upon, up front and in writing, so that each party is clear on what the expectations are.

Knowing what a client needs is also very important and part of that understanding comes from “local” knowledge which can be found through successful partnerships with other international recruiters.  As a professional recruiter, you may know your client but you may not know local norms and customs and that kind of extra knowledge can make all the difference.

Developing partnerships with other international recruiters is a great way to service your clients and make more money by doing splits.  As you build trusted business partnerships with other international recruiters, you are servicing your clients’ needs in ways that they may not have even thought of in the past.

Image courtesy of sheelamohan /

6 Ways Job Boards are like Online Dating

by Veronica Blatt

Today I’m going to share my thoughts on how job boards are similar to online dating. After all, “everyone” says that job boards will be the end of the recruiting industry, and “everyone” also says that you have to look online to find your ideal date. All these experts must be on to something, right? From my limited experience with both job boards and Internet dating sites, I’m here to state emphatically that job boards aren’t going to put recruiters out of business anytime soon. (Disclosure: NPA recently launched a job board.)

1. Sometimes the whole is less than the sum of its parts. People exaggerate. Heck, sometimes they just plain lie. This applies to both candidates and dating prospects. The information that people supply in their resumes or their online profiles isn’t always accurate. It often adds up to much less than what you might initially believe. As far as I can tell, neither job boards nor dating sites have figured out a way to correct for this.

2. You can’t really get to know a candidate (or a potential date) without talking to him or her, maybe even face-to-face. You can get some good initial screening from a job board or a dating site, but you can’t determine “fit” without talking to someone. There are candidates who have the skill set your client needs, but they don’t fit the company culture. They’re simply not going to work out in the long run. Similarly, I’ve encountered some dating prospects who are interesting people, but they just aren’t going to mesh with my family, friends and life.

3. At best, both job boards and dating sites give you a very simple “surface view.” Ultimately, most jobs (especially professional, career-type roles) involve a lot more than rote exercises. They require complex thinking, problem solving, creativity, and flexibility that can’t be easily evaluated on a job board. While a candidate may have the basic technical skills to perform a task, most clients won’t be satisfied with that.

4. The “matches” are questionable. I’ve had some pretty strange “matches” delivered from online dating sites, from people with “alternative” lifestyles to out-of-state retirees looking for a nursemaid/housekeeper to a man who’d been widowed only 24 hours earlier. I’m pretty sure it should have been OBVIOUS from my profile that’s not what I’m looking for… if a person had been reading it, instead of a computer. Both job boards and online dating sites use keywords and other data to develop algorithms that generate “matches.” Sometimes, the matches just don’t…. match. Even Google doesn’t get it right 100% of the time.

5. The people you’re looking for aren’t online. Truly passive candidates (people who are not actively seeking new opportunities) most likely aren’t on the job boards. They might not even have a current resume. They need to be discovered, and then sold on the idea of a new role. The same seems to be true of dating sites. There are a plethora of people I’d NEVER want to date. There isn’t a job board or dating site on earth that can find people who aren’t on their system.

6. Hiring, like dating, is a lot more complex than a series of radio buttons on a questionnaire. The first layer, determining a person’s basic qualifications, is the easiest. After that, things get tricky. There are big concepts, nuances, nonverbal cues, and context that all contribute to the “yes or no” decision. It takes a skilled recruiter (or some in-person dates) to delve into these kinds of issues, apply the information, and make an informed recommendation to a client.

The bottom line is this: job boards aren’t the end of recruiting any more than online dating sites are the end of conventional ways to meet new people. And here’s a way that “real” recruiting is a lot like “real” dating. Both activities give you the chance to expand your network and make new friends, even if they aren’t the people you’re looking for right now. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, personal relationships are what really matters.

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono /

Increase Recruiter Profits with New Niches

by Dave Nerz

The smart players in recruiting take the position that you must be a recruiting specialist to win in the recruiting business. I think what they say makes some sense. Many trainers and industry experts suggest that a recruiter become expert in a niche. They suggest a recruiter should know all the key companies, key decision makers, the social media connections, the industry jargon, and all the openings that the niche might produce over the course of a year. In a strong and growing economy, or from within a large recruiting practice, this concept is completely sensible and can increase recruiter profits.

But what happens in the rest of the recruiting world, the small office recruiters and sole proprietors, when such a narrow focus exists?

The top 10 growth industries for recruiters doing executive placement, as reported by ExecuNet are:

  1. Healthcare
  2. High Technology
  3. Clean/Green Technology
  4. Life Sciences (Pharma/Medical/Biotech)
  5. Manufacturing
  6. Financial Services/Banking/Insurance
  7. Energy/Utilities
  8. Business Services
  9. Internet/Online Services
  10. Consumer Products

So the average sole proprietor or small office recruiter cannot possibly be focused on every niche. Diversification within a small office is more difficult. And the concern is, what happens if you do focus on one niche and it goes cold, gets hit by a disaster, or becomes “overfished” by other recruiters? What are some strategies you can employ to avoid being trapped in a bad niche at the wrong time?

Here are ideas I have heard recruiters use to protect recruiting revenue and recruiting profits:

  • Join a networking group that expands my contacts and works niches other than my own
  • Find partners that have niches that cycle differently than mine and work cooperatively on a split basis on the hottest area
  • Have a “back-up” niche that you track and just don’t work as a primary unless your primary niche goes cold
  • Become a generalist and do not specialize…diversify
  • Cross that bridge when you come to it!

What do you think would work best for you? What is your diversification plan?  How do you protect recruiting revenue in a down market while increasing recruiter profits in good times and hot niches?

Recruiting Networks and Personal Relationships

by Veronica Blatt

Recruiting networks can be formal or informal. There are many different business models that are successful. Some recruiters are drawn to a transactional model, where the focus is on the placement, not necessarily on a long-term partnership. Other networks, like NPA, are relationship-based. While our members are certainly focused on making placements, they are vested in NPA as member-owners of our cooperative structure. They spend time cultivating relationships.

I am proud of the close relationships our members have with each other, and equally proud of the relationships between our members and our staff. Our members are successful because they meet each other face-to-face. They talk on the phone. They shake hands, they share war stories, they vacation together, and they cheer for each others’ kids. NPA members celebrate their successes together, and lift each other up when the chips are down.

Since May, NPA members have supported each other through the deaths of three of our longtime members. They have attended funerals, sat Shiva, sent cards and memorials, and helped run their fellow partners’ businesses. Heartfelt condolences have come from members throughout our global recruiter network. NPA members know each other.

These members were more than just email addresses. They were mentors, leaders, volunteers, and friends. And they are missed. Rest in peace Lou, Dave, and Dan.

Selecting an Independent Recruiting Agency: 5 Tips for Candidates

by Terri Piersma

If you are unemployed and looking for a new job or currently employed and desiring to move to another company, many ways exist for you to find that new job.  For example, networking with your family and friends as well as friends of friends is ideal and may result in you finding that new job.  However, if this preferred way of finding a job does not produce results, you may want to consider another option.  The option I am referring to is working with a third-party, independent recruiter.

Companies will hire an independent recruiting agency for a variety of reasons. It may be growing quickly and not have the time or ability to hire the desired employees.  It may have tried to find employees for specific jobs but has been unable to find employees who meet their requirements. Or, it may be searching for employees outside of its reach located in a different location than the company headquarters; for example, in another state/province or another country.

If you decide to look for an independent recruiter to help you find a job, consider the following before you invest time in the relationship:

1.    Recruiting Experience
For how long has the recruiter been working as a recruiter in your industry and/or other industries?

2.    Knowledge and Capabilities
Does the recruiter understand your industry and the area in which you specialize?  Or, do they have access to other independent recruiters either through an informal network or formal network who do understand the specifics of your situation.

3.    Geographical Reach
If you are searching for a job in another state or province, does the recruiter belong to an informal or formal network of recruiters which would increase the likelihood that the recruiter would know about non-local jobs?  If you are searching for a job in another country, does the recruiter have global recruiting capabilities?

4.    Integrity
After speaking with the recruiter, do you feel the recruiter operates with integrity?  You may want to ask the recruiter for a couple of references; individuals with whom the recruiter has worked and placed in new jobs.

5.    Commitment
For your relationship with the recruiter to be fruitful, commitment is important.  However, commitment goes both ways.  I recommend you remove your resume from job boards like Monster and CareerBuilder and tell the recruiter you have done so.  Why should you do this?  Employers will not pay recruiters for finding candidates if they (the company) find them on job boards.  Therefore, many recruiters choose to not work with candidates who have posted their resumes on job boards.

If you have worked with a third-party, independent recruiter in the past, do you have any other suggestions for someone investigating this option?

Recruiting Franchise vs. Recruiting Network – Which one is right for you?

by Veronica Blatt

When hiring is robust, like the cycle we are entering (or are already in, depending on the market), there is high interest in starting a recruiting business. It can be a lucrative and rewarding career; it’s attractive to many former HR and corporate recruiters, and high-producing third-party recruiters who have no equity in their current employment situation may consider going out on their own.

Two of the more common models for starting a recruiting business are purchasing a recruiting franchise, or going it alone with the help of a recruiting network (it’s the old “buy or make” dilemma). If you’re interested in starting a recruiting business, here is a list of key differences between a recruiting franchise and a recruiting network that might be helpful in your decision-making:

Recruiting Franchise Recruiting Network
High start-up costs – purchasing a franchise can cost more than US$50,000 Low start-up costs – you can start your business from your home with a phone and computer
Franchise fees   – a portion (5% or more) of gross REVENUES paid each month Recruiting networks can charge monthly dues, brokerage or commission on placements, both dues and brokerage, or be free
Varying levels of autonomy as a business owner Total autonomy as a business owner
Purchasing a business process and corporate marketing/branding Purchasing access to connections, referrals, and/or trading partners
Software – usually have to purchase and use corporate-mandated system Software – free to choose your own based on what works best for your needs
Prescribed business practices – A franchise must be run according to the corporate model Guidelines and best practices – A recruiting network will offer guidelines and best practices as opposed to a specific business model, with a community of peers to learn from
Lots of training Varying levels of training

Purchasing a recruiting franchise can be a great option for those with a lot of up-front cash who want to follow a corporate model with lots of training. For those with a more entrepreneurial style, an independent business combined with membership in an established recruiting network can offer more freedom and flexibility. Both choices can be successful; the key is to find the one that best fits your needs.