You can’t hire someone if you don’t know that they exist and what their skills are. And you have to remember them – lost in the ATS is not useful. You have to believe that they are a fit for your company and will be liked by the team. And you need to trust them to get the job done.
First you look at the people you already know – current employees. A further step would be former, but liked and trusted, employees and the friends and known associates of your current liked and trusted employees. If you can, and you have time, you will check your Applicant Tracking System. This is like gardening; it does not take a lot of time, but it also does not yield a lot of candidates. If you had a number of LinkedIn Groups where your employees interact with people who want to be your employees, you would be farming. It takes more work and more trust, but will attract the right people. Most companies don’t do this.
Then you fish for new people – you put up a big sign on the internet, company careers page, job sites, even billboards and television and hope that the right people will see it – This is commonly called “Post and Pray”. Will the most trustworthy, best fit people be looking at this sign? Usually more people apply than fit, sometimes in a 99:1 ratio.
Then you hunt for the right people – you spend the time to comb through LinkedIn, G+ and association membership directories, do Boolean search on multiple browsers, perhaps even call into your competitors. If you or your in-house recruiters really don’t have the time or knowledge to do this, then you might settle for someone who showed up above or you might hire a third-party or external recruiter.
The number of recruiters has fallen drastically since 2007. With the advent of the internet tools and the hiring of in-house executive search people, there are simply fewer recruiters. Many experienced people have retired and the newly minted don’t have the depth of experience the older recruiters had. Do you qualify your recruiters – how long have they recruited in our industry? What range of positions have they filled? Just because they have not recently found exactly the person you need is not a good way to qualify them – every position is different because every company is different and every team is different. But do they know where to look for, say, regulatory affairs people? (not in Legal!)
There are three kinds of external recruiters: Contingency, Retained and a la carte search services.
Contingency people will send you blind resumes as soon as you post a job. While it is true that you don’t pay them until you hire their candidate, you will still spend quite a bit of time sorting through their submissions and discussing these with them. If the search is too difficult, they will simply stop. If you do hire their person, the cost is usually 25-30% of the annual compensation of the person you hire. This is a good method to use if you have plenty of time to review resumes and are not in a hurry to get to a hire.
Retained recruiters will guarantee to find you the right person (if they take the search) and you will pay a third up front, a third when they present resumes and the final third after the candidate is hired and stays for a certain amount of time. They expect a third of the annual compensation of the candidate you hire. This is a good method if you want to put the entire search in the hands of an “expert” and completely trust that they actually know who the “right person” is.
A la carte services do only the portion of the search that your people are too busy or unskilled to do. You pay by the hour and have much greater control over the process. These people are expert at finding people and getting them to talk with you. You decide if the person is right, but you choose from a broader field of qualified and interested candidates.