The Pros and Cons of Using a Recruiter

For the HR team, recruiting and hiring can take up a significant amount of time, and it’s easy to wonder, would the company be better off hiring a recruiter to handle the most arduous aspects of finding new hires? Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of taking this route.

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Potential Benefits of Using a Recruiter

For an employer, there are quite a few benefits to using a recruiter to assist in the hiring process:

  • It frees up time for HR and hiring managers:
    • The recruiter can help write up the job description and do all the leg work involved in getting the initial applicant pool.
    • They can filter out all of the unqualified candidates that apply for a position, saving you a lot of time—the employer can end up with a list of prescreened candidates with minimal work.
    • Since matching applicants with employers is a recruiter’s entire job, they’re able to devote the time and get applicants in place quickly, meaning you’ll be able to fill the position faster.
    • They can handle reference checks for you.
    • Some agencies will handle negotiations for you as well.
  • Recruiters are typically well-versed in their respective industry and can identify and connect with a larger group of candidates. This may mean you can get a better match for the position because of the wider applicant pool at the recruiter’s disposal. In fact, recruiters often have an extensive existing network of applicants already looking for a job.
  • A recruiter may also have the connections to be able to find passive candidates (those who were not even looking for a job) who are a perfect match for the position but would not have otherwise known about it. This means it’s possible to get an even better candidate for the role than the organization would have found on their own.
  • For lower-level positions, some recruiting agencies even offer the option to take on the task of hiring the employee as one of their own, and the employer pays the salary to the agency. Essentially, they act as a middleman for the employee’s probationary period, which can alleviate a lot of paperwork for you and reduce the risk of the new hire not working out. The risk is reduced because you will bear fewer costs and administrative burden if the employee leaves. This can also save money in the short term, as the new hires will not yet be eligible for benefits.

Potential Pitfalls of Using a Recruiter

While the list of potential benefits is long, unfortunately so is the list of potential pitfalls. Here are a few to be wary of:

  • It’s difficult for an external agency to know your business as well as you do. This means that a recruiter may be more likely to overlook an otherwise qualified candidate who doesn’t satisfy every box on a checklist. In other words, a great candidate may be passed over if the recruiter doesn’t know when to be flexible in the candidate qualifications.
  • Depending on how the recruiter is utilized, the time savings for the employer may only come from the first stages of the process. In other words, the employer needs to recognize that the process of bringing someone new aboard will still take time—and that must be accounted for.
  • There is an extra expense involved with recruiters—typically a portion of the new hire’s initial salary. Obviously, this expense may be quite high in some cases. The employer must decide whether this additional expense is worth the benefits noted above. Remember, however, that this cost is offset by the saved time and money from outsourcing tasks performed by the recruiter.
  • There is a time commitment involved in finding the best recruiting agency to contract with. You must be able to trust the agency and the results they will bring, and you’ll need to screen them in advance.
  • It’s possible that a recruiter could misrepresent your organization, causing miscommunications during the hiring process. (This risk can be minimized, of course.)
  • Depending on the situation, a recruiter may place a candidate for interviews with several companies concurrently. This can increase the likelihood that your chosen candidate will have competing offers.

What has been your experience? Have you tried external recruiting agencies?

Bridget Miller is a business consultant with a specialized MBA in International Economics and Management, which provides a unique perspective on business challenges. She’s been working in the corporate world for over 15 years, with experience across multiple diverse departments including HR, sales, marketing, IT, commercial development, and training.

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