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In-house human resources professionals are assigned multiple duties and responsibilities, almost all of them mission critical to personnel management. Their job descriptions include wage and benefit administration, development of policies and procedures, training, oversight of disciplinary action, management of unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation claims, and many others. Among the most important responsibilities, however, are those related to the recruitment and hiring of new employees.

A company’s ability to attract, hire, and retain competent workers is critical to the success of the enterprise. The work involved often consumes a disproportionate share of resources, yet it is often considered an afterthought by upper management, perpetuating the misguided but widely held view that an HR. department is simply a cost center. Of course, as human resources professionals know, such a view is inaccurate and ignores the both the time and effort required to do hiring right. And, as many companies have discovered, sometimes the work can be overwhelming. When it is, an HR department finds itself having no choice but to surrender and get some outside help (and let’s not forget those companies that have no dedicated HR personnel at all). This is where recruiters come in.

Why recruiters? Because it’s what they do, of course.

They recruit. But what does that mean? A competent recruiter has the knowledge, expertise, and connections that enable him or her to locate and attract top talent and deliver them, prescreened and presumably eager, to those who do the hiring. Few but the biggest companies have the resources to devote anywhere near the time and energy required to engage in talent acquisition as efficiently or effectively as a successful recruiter possesses. Consider them the treasure hunters of the labor market.

When recruiting for a company, a recruiter has no conflicting responsibilities .

He/she is recruiting and recruiting only. There’s no worry about payroll, about submitting a workers’ comp claim on time, about reviewing that travel allowance policy for the umpteenth time. All attention is focused on finding the most qualified candidates for the job.

Recruiters provide unbiased, independent guidance and feedback. They help educate companies large and small on best practices for attracting and hiring the finest candidates available. And because they’re an independent third party (rather than the hiring party), they can often gather more honest feedback regarding a company’s hiring procedures which can then be used to further educate the employer.

Once a decision to retain a recruiting professional has been made, a company should take the steps necessary to ensure that the recruiter hired is the one most responsive to the company’s needs. When interviewing a recruiting firm or individual, the following are important things to remember:

  • If a fee seems too good to be true, that’s probably because it is. The process of recruiting/hiring is not the place to count pennies. A poor hiring decision will almost always cost more than the “savings” realized by cutting corners.
  • Acquisition strategy. A recruiting firm that is not prepared to distinguish the services it provides from those of the competition is probably no different from the competition. An average recruiter isn’t likely to find an exceptional job candidate.
  • Request that the scope of services be provided in writing.
  • Is there a guarantee if the hire doesn’t work out and for how long?
  • Always check references. Always.

Hiring the right employee is both an art and a science. Many companies don’t have the bandwidth or ability to do so effectively. A competent recruiter is often the best, if not the only, tool available to get the job done.

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