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Staffing in the New Economy is a costly proposition. To complicate matters more, recruiter wanna-be’s and 3rd party hiring resources barrage many of us each day. Making the right choices for your organization may mean sink or success over time. Whether you hire a contract recruiter full-time or use agencies “on contingency,” there are advantages and disadvantages.

If your organization is in a high growth mode that you anticipate will last for six months to a year, and you have little or no recruiting staff—get yourself a dedicated recruiter. If you only have a few highly specialized difficult-to-fill positions (i.e., very technical or single one-of-a-kind requirements) go with a few carefully selected contingency firms. When you get to the VP or “C-level” jobs look for a well-respected retained search firm in your industry.

Let’s examine ways to get the most (support-wise and $-wise) from the first two.

Expensive On-Site Recruiters

My cohorts may hate me for telling you this, but I firmly believe contract recruiters should work on-site at least four days a week. To be truly effective they must be physically located with their client group, NOT with human resources. They should be given a space where they can talk openly and freely about salaries, stock, the company, and potentially other sensitive matters without disturbing surrounding workers or creating potential internal equity issues.

They should provide you a full-range of services, not just pulling resumes off job boards. This means sourcing, screening (phone screening notes should accompany the resume being sent to the hiring manager) interviewing, negotiating, and closing the candidate. Sounds like a full sales cycle? It is! If you get a good recruiter, their evaluation of the candidate’s fit in the organization will be invaluable. When selecting a recruiter, ask them to give examples of their behavioral interviewing techniques and how they assess the technical skills and abilities of a candidate. If they can’t articulate this, don’t hire them.

A huge advantage of on-site recruiters is their ability to get to know upper management’s philosophy, the corporate culture, and to have the opportunity to interact daily with line managers. Be sure to make them part of the post interview evaluation process and include them in staff meetings if appropriate. Only in this way can they experience the team interactions and better assess a potential candidate’s fit for the environment and future success in the organization.

Make your recruiter more efficient by giving them the tools they need to do the job: laptop (most recruiters are workaholics and this ensures a “have-work, will-travel” mentality), access to job boards and research, employee referral programs, job fairs, etc.

But be careful. Don’t waste your recruiting dollars having an expensive contractor setting up interviews, attending unnecessary meetings, cranking out offer paperwork, or standing at the copy machine. Hire a temp if you need to!

Negotiating skills are extremely important in today’s marketplace. When selecting a recruiter, ask for a story about their greatest close and one about a special candidate they sourced. Make sure you give your recruiters the recruiting ammo they need such as salary information, stock incentive plans, insights into your competitors, why you are better, and your organization’s long-term goals.

On-site recruiters have a huge advantage in closing a candidate—particularly if they are doing face-to-face interviews. Having an on-site full time recruiter with high energy and dedication to your cause—one who believes in what the company’s goals and vision are—can be an invaluable asset.

Paper-Pushing, Auto-redialing, Contingency Agencies

People from these groups plague everyone who hires people these days. If you are not careful, you will find yourself with a three-page list of agency contracts, endless phone calls, and a daily flood of useless email. My advice: pick four to six good agencies and work closely with them. You can identify those that are good by asking others who have tried finding people in similar positions or try using them for a single position. You may want to work with those that specialize in certain areas: marketing, sales, accounting, or a specific technical area. You may also look for those who specialize in your industry: health, telecom, software, or others. Make sure you develop a good relationship with the ones that produce. Tell other agencies that contact you that you are not signing any new contracts, but will keep their information on hand should the ones you are working with not be of service. Heaven forbid you should piss one off and they make it their goal in life to recruit YOUR employees away.

Here are some hints to make your agencies add more value:

1.   Make sure agency recruiters follow your policies and procedures. Companies operate differently so don’t expect them to know your policies.
2.   Let agency recruiters know how you expect them to work with you: for instance, “only email” or if calls are acceptable, only a certain number a week.
3.   Have them sign YOUR agreement not theirs; make NO exceptions. These agreements should be standard, approved by your attorney. Believe me your life will be easier.
4.   All resumes should go through either your Human Resources department or to the recruiter designated for the client group the candidate is being presented for. No calls to hiring managers!
5  Keep your website updated and steer the agency to it for job openings instead of spending your valuable time going over the requirements on the phone.
6.   The agency should provide a full phone screening. Make it clear what you expect. You should only see candidates ready to move, NOT just resumes. By this I mean the agency should have contacted the candidate, told them about the company, assured the candidate is interested and available, gotten current and expected salary information, and done a pre-screening against the job requirements for skill match and for fit for the organization.
7. Once the candidate has been presented, YOU own their information not the agency. Take the ball and run. Interviewing, reference checking, negotiating, closing should all be done by your on-site staff or managers.

Let’s face it; no one recruiter has access to all resumes no matter how many sources they have or know how to use. But before you dismiss them altogether understand that some agencies really do have an “in” with specific companies and industries as well as have very strong databases of their own. Many agencies are very hard working, successful, and can be quite an asset. I personally advocate a combination of on-site recruiters and agencies.

Sourcers: The New-Age Internet Wizards

If you have many internal resources and are building up or subscribing to job boards, contact lists, attendee lists, paper resumes from job fairs, or faxes no one is looking at, consider getting a “sourcer,” especially in lieu of hiring another recruiter. If good, they can do magic. Find one with AIRS training, if possible. They can free up your recruiter to do the real sales side of the job and take full advantage of the money you are already spending on these resources. Sourcers are the factory worker of the future; their ability to “people-mine” is extraordinary.

In Closing

The recruiting and staffing process is a constantly changing and evolving occupation. There are many choices of how to approach it and ideas on what works and what doesn’t. One sure bet is that it is and must remain a well-oiled, continuously moving machine. I hope I have given you some insight on how to feed your recruiting monster!

Debra Young has over 20 years experience in staffing, recruiting, and human resource management. She has a significant record of accomplishment recruiting in high-growth industries, managing entire staffing processes, lowering cost-per-hire and strategic planning for long-term staffing needs. Contact her directly at

From the Editor by way of disclosure: Young is responsible for bringing together LiNE Zine’s Editor in Chief, who she worked with at PeopleSoft, and LiNE Zine’s Webmaster. We are personally thankful for her introduction and guidance in recruiting matters over the year. LZ



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