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by Brian Cordasco | March 10, 2009


It is 8:30 a.m. Monday morning and the phone is ringing off the hook as I walk in the door. Without putting sugar in my coffee, or even taking the coffee out of the bag, I answer the phone?."HELLO?". "This is Joe Recruiter from Dime-a-Dozen staffing. We are a leading IT staffing company that can help you with your hiring needs. Do you have any openings that we can help you with?"

Every corporate recruiter or internal recruiter for a company gets approximately five calls like this, starting every morning and lasting throughout the day. Depending on the mood of the recruiter, an agency recruiter's "pitch" can be met with a variety of responses that can either start or end a relationship in the first two minutes of the conversation. Thus, the classic struggle between "headhunters" and "HR people" has begun.

But why does it have to be like this? How do you determine a good agency recruiter who will respect your company and will only send qualified candidates? If technical recruiting is your thing, isn't time of the essence? You can certainly benefit from a few good resumes from outside sources to bolster the candidate pipeline. Here are a few strategies to use in order to educate recruiting agencies to your advantage:

Provide Detailed Company Information:
Agency recruiters are outside salesmen who will be spreading the word about your company to potential candidates. Do they have the correct information? Most of the time, they tell a small piece of the whole story. It is up to internal recruiters to invite agencies into the office to give them "a day in the life" of the company. Besides describing the company "story" and open positions, tell them why candidates choose this company over others. Maybe the company has a casual environment or offers amenities such as massages, tuition reimbursement or free lunch/dinner. These are details that candidates want to hear when an opportunity is described to them.

Competitors - Who are they:
In some cases, internal recruiters are not allowed to "poach" candidates directly from competitors. Due to time constraints in filling the positions, internal recruiters search the job boards and resumes sent through company web sites. However, if agencies know where to look for appropriate candidates, they have more time to establish relationships with potential candidates and describe opportunities that exist in a company. Furthermore, agencies recruit for a variety of marketplaces. They should be instructed as to what marketplace your particular company is in. For example, the New York City marketplace is notorious for it's financial community. If your company is an Internet start-up, candidates from the financial community might not be the greatest fit.

Most recruiters I know are not technically inclined, although they know enough technology pertaining to the candidates they source to hold a conversation about it. If agencies are going to be used, they must be instructed on what technology the company is using and what the "typical candidate" should possess on his/her resume. Give them sample resumes of candidates hired (of course you can take the name off the resume for confidentiality reasons!). Also, describe a project that the company has done or refer them to the web site to study the "white papers".

Establish the Relationship Guidelines:
Agencies should understand that not all "corporate recruiters" are "HR people". Yes, most companies place their staffing/recruiting functions under the HR umbrella. However, some internal recruiters come from an agency background and have enough experience to decide whom to interview without sending the resume to a manager for approval. To expedite the process and to insure the candidate is appropriate, you can require that agencies send resumes with more pertinent information other than current compensation and expectations. I like to know what the candidate's strongest skill is technically and what they would like to do. Also, why are they leaving the current company? The answers to these questions can determine if the agency has done their homework when they met the candidate. ~Let's conclude with a few facts. Agency recruiters are in this business because there is a shortage of good candidates going around. Most companies have money budgeted for recruiting fees even though cost-per-hire should remain at a minimum. Outside of the numbers and the costs associated with using agencies, technical managers everywhere need people and they need them fast. Instead of brushing agency recruiters off the phone because you are too busy, let's limit the paper flow and ease the hiring process by educating agencies as to what is needed. The initial time invested establishing a good working relationship will save time reviewing inappropriate resumes. Recruiting is a relationship business, after all.


Filed Under: Job Search