What to Look for in an External Recruiter

You’ve pulled the trigger and decided to take on an external recruiter for your company. Finding the right candidates to join your team is an important, time-consuming process, which is why hiring an external recruiter can be a great asset to your company.

But what does a recruiter actually do for you? How do they conduct a job search? How do they get paid? And how do you find the best external recruiter to work with your company?

We answer all your questions about external recruiters and more below.

External vs Internal Recruiters

If you’re looking at an external recruiter (also called an independent recruiter) you’ll work with one who is part of a local, regional, or national agency.  There are also recruiting agencies that primarily work to fill specialized or high-level positions.

External recruiters are different from internal recruiters, who are paid a salary and are part of your company. Since internal recruiters are part of the team, they’ll already understand the company culture and your leadership’s expectations.

However, internal recruiters may not have the bandwidth to handle hiring for a large or growing company. And an internal recruiter may be hesitant to reach outside their network to find candidates for your positions like an external recruiter might. Let’s talk about the other benefits to hiring an external recruiter.

The benefits of hiring an external recruiter

1. Broad candidate network

An external recruiter will likely have a broader reach than an internal recruiter, who is limited to their own network of peers and coworkers. Plus, if you use multiple external recruiters, you can look for candidates across several networks, rather than just one. An external recruiter has many more resources to use in a job search.

2. Different recruiters for different needs

No matter what kind of agency your external recruiter comes from, they’ll work either on contingency or on retainer. When a recruiter works on contingency, they get paid when a candidate accepts a job offer and remains an employee after the trial period ends.

Their pay is usually about 20-25% of a candidate’s salary. So if your job position pays $50,000 per year, your recruiter can receive up to $12,500 for finding you the candidate.

When a recruiter works on retainer, you pay an up-front fee for their work. You’re paying them to work with you exclusively, which means no competition from other recruiters. The fee might be up to 50% of a candidate’s salary.

3. Valuable experience

A seasoned recruiter who is good at her job wants the best for your company and the candidate.

They can probably spot a good candidate from their resume, first impression on the phone, and even through their social media posts.

An experienced external recruiter will understand hiring requirements and processes because they’ve worked with many companies and candidates. Their experience is worth investing in for your hiring process.

How To Choose the Right Recruiter

From your point of view, you want to find the best candidate for your job using the least expensive method, right? (We agree.) Luckily, recruiters come in all shapes and sizes, so you can choose one that meets your specific needs.

First, Consider the Position You’re Hiring For:

An internal recruiter can come in handy when hiring entry-level jobs that don’t need to be filled in a hurry. If your company is short on time or resources and an internal recruiter isn’t the best option, hiring one or several contingent external recruiters can find you several good candidates.

If you’re looking to fill upper-level or specialized technical positions, an external recruiter from a retained search firm can find you the best candidates for those jobs.

Next, Learn How To Research Each Candidate:

Now that you know what kind of recruiter you want, it’s time to pick one based on their experience, professional areas, or methods.

Some questions to ask potential recruiters include:

  • “What’s the success rate of your agency?” Of course, a promising recruiting agency won’t have any issues sharing their success rate with you. Ask to see some data about how long their process typically takes to placement, or how many of their placements last past their trial period.
  • “How long has your agency been in operation?” In general, the longer a firm has been in business, the more reliable they probably are.
  • “Does your agency specialize in any industries or professional areas?” If you’re looking for highly specialized or upper-level candidates, this is an important question to ask. An external specialized recruiter who knows your industry will likely be more effective.
  • “What is your sourcing process for finding talent?” You’ll want to know how they find talent, screen them, and interview them. Find out how this recruiting agency is different from the rest.
  • “Do you have a guarantee for finding quality candidates?” In case a hired candidate falls through, you’ll want to know if the recruiter has a guarantee in place, like a partial refund or reduced fee.
  • “Do you have any testimonials you can share?” Good reviews can be great proof, even if the agency hasn’t been in business as long as other firms. Ask to see some testimonials from previous or repeat clients, especially clients in the same field as your company.
    If they’re satisfied, that’s a good indicator of their recruiters’ performance.

If you’d rather not ask some of these questions directly, remember you can find some of the answers on the recruiting agency’s website, or on their employee LinkedIn pages.

In order to find the best candidates for your company, you have to find the right recruiter first, so do your research!

Finally, Trust Your Instincts About Each Recruiter

When you’re finding the right external recruiter for your company, don’t forget to trust your instincts. Of course, their experience, sourcing methods, client reviews, and network count for something. However, their personality and presence with your team are important, too.

An external recruiter will be working to find candidates that fit your expectations and company culture. To do that, they’ll need to understand them themselves. Meet potential recruiters at least once in person so you can make sure they’re a good fit.

Then, happy candidate hunting!