Three considerations to follow when bringing in third-party recruiters.
By Sean Bisceglia
While many organizations would prefer to use their internal recruiters to fill jobs, the reality is that they sometimes need to supplement these efforts with outside resources. In fact, according to a survey from the Novo Group, 80 percent of companies use third-party agencies or recruiters for help with hard-to-fill positions. The American Staffing Association reports $12.2 billion in annual spend in recruiting fees.
With more than 17,000 staffing firms to choose from, it’s difficult for companies to ensure they’re choosing the best recruiter to get them quality candidates with a swift time-to-fill rate.
According to Staffing Industry Analysts, 63 percent of organizations currently find their third-party recruiters through a cold call or sales pitch. This process—and the overall employer-recruiter relationship—is outdated, and it’s not helping employers find the best recruiters for their job. In the age of big data, emotional decisions built around who employers know, who they’ve used before, a sales deck that looked good, or a recommendation from a peer aren’t enough. Matching technologies created to use big data to connect employers with candidates have been increasingly effective. This being said, companies should look to data and tools that glean insights from this data, to identify the recruiters with a track record of success filling a specific position.
We recently conducted a research study of more than 300,000 jobs to find out what’s important—and what will get the fastest time-to-fill rate—when working
with specialty third-party recruiters. After looking at all aspects of the search firm recruiting process, we boiled it down to three key factors.
1. Specialty is key. Many search firms are small, meaning that every placement makes for a significant gross profit. While placement fees of up to 25 percent can be tempting, we found that a recruiter’s probability of filling a job is slim if they’re not focusing on their area of expertise. Third-party generalist recruiters only make 9 percent of all successful placements.
While you might assume that recruiters who take any and all job orders make more placements, our data shows that an astounding 91 percent of successful placements made by third-party recruiters were made by specialty recruiters with proven track records in filling specific job types. Why? Recruiters without a specialty waste time learning new industries and jargon and networking for new talent—time that could otherwise have been spent on job orders they had a better chance of filling because they have an expertise and an existing network of candidates.
2. Likeness trumps location. It seems contradictory. You would think that a recruiter based in geographic proximity to a job posting would have greater success filling that position. However, it’s not where they’re located in relation to the posting, but where they’ve had repeated success in making placements that’s important. The research finds that recruiters who pursue job orders in locations they have proven success are three times more likely to fill an open position than a recruiter without prior success in that given locale.
By focusing on an area of expertise, specialty recruiters can build out their networks more broadly. For example, a specialty recruiter with expertise in fire safety engineers will likely have a network spanning the nation, rather than one location.
Filling like positions is more important than where recruiters are located.
3. More is better.
When it comes to achieving a faster time-to-fill rate, you should work with multiple specialty recruiters simultaneously. Increasing the number of specialty recruiters working on any given position improves the time-to-fill by as much as 98 percent, our research finds. You’ll see the most impact by using between three and six specialty recruiters. Modern technologies make it easy to work with multiple specialty recruiters in tandem, all within your existing applicant tracking system workflow.
Applying these three findings to your third-party recruiting efforts helps ensure you’re getting the highest quality candidates—as fast as possible.
Sean Bisceglia is president and founder of Scout Exchange.

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