Working With Recruiters and Agencies

The most talented people likely aren’t searching for your job posting because they already have a good job. To find these folks, you may need to use a trained recruiter or employment agency. A recruiter, sometimes called a headhunter, can save you some time by offering objective analysis and by screening candidates. Plus, they can preserve your anonymity if you’re going after higher-level employees at competing firms.
There are several different types of job agencies:
  • Traditional employment agency. These are the large, catchall firms that help job seekers find jobs at all levels in a wide range of industries. Typically, fees are paid by the employer.
  • Contingency employment agency. These firms, which tend to focus on low to mid-level administrative positions, are paid only after a candidate is hired. Some charge a flat fee while others take a percentage of the first paycheck. They may send a large number of resumes to an employer to increase the hiring opportunities.
  • Retained search firm. This type of firm operates with an exclusive relationship to an employer for a specified period of time, typically for filling senior-level executive positions. They are paid expenses plus a percentage of the offered salary, even if a candidate is not hired.
  • Temp agency. These firms specialize in filling temporary jobs, such as seasonal work or to cover for vacations or illnesses.
  • Niche recruiting agency. Niche agencies specialize in finding skilled candidates in specific disciplines, such as electronics, healthcare, or computer coding, to name a few.

Game Plan

Before engaging a job recruiter, determine your specific hiring needs. If you are looking for someone with special skills, consider a niche agency. If you need an executive, look at firms with that specialty. Fees can vary a lot, so compare costs. Mark-ups can range from 30 percent to as much as 150 percent, so negotiate a reasonable fee. Ask how the firm finds and screens candidates and if they participate in the Best of Staffing Program, which benchmarks company performance in the U.S. staffing market.
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