Stopping Recruiters From Taking Your People

Q. Our industry is one that is actually growing during this recession.  Some of my people are getting calls from recruiters offering them new positions. We can't afford to lose anyone at this time. Is there any way to keep recruiters away from my people?

The short answer is no. Good recruiters are as good at their job as your best people are at theirs. Recruiting your best people is what they get paid to do. However, they don't offer your best people a new position as you state. They only offer them a potentially better opportunity. Maybe it is better, maybe it isn't. Determining that is what the interviewing process is all about from a candidate's perspective.

You can't stop recruiters from calling your people, but you can make your people recruiter resistant to a large degree. The best way to stop recruiters is by making sure that your best people don't want to leave. I have made thousands of recruiting calls in 30 years as a recruiter. Employees that really enjoy their work,  the company they work for, and respect their boss, generally thank me for calling and then turn down a new opportunity to move forward. Why?

I have discovered that the best way to defend against recruiters is to make sure you continually provide your employees with three things; 1) The opportunity to always be learning. Top talent require this. 2) Belief that they are a making an impact. Top talent don't want to just perform busy work. They want to know that their work is meaningful and impactful. 3) They are growing and becoming better. This requires a boss that they respect and that is willing to take the time to understand their needs. A boss that is willing to challenge them and makes sure year after year that they are better at what they do than the previous years. Most people don't leave a company, they leave their boss.

If you ensure that your employees are learning, impacting your company, and have a boss  they respect, you will also stop recruiters. A byproduct of this is that your company will get a reputation as a great place to work so finding new people will also be easier.

Join the other 10,000 CEOs, key executives, and HR professional who have downloaded a FREE copy of our best-selling book, “You're NOT The Person I Hired.” Just CLICK HERE for your FREE eBook.

Download this free assessment of your company's hiring process to see if your company will attract top talent.

I welcome  your thoughts and comments.

Brad Remillard

Is It Possbile To Find Reliable Recruiters?

Q. Our company has had bad experiences when using recruiters. How do we find a reliable recruiter?

A. One of the most important things a good recruiter must be able to do is recruit passive candidates, i.e. candidates that are not actively looking for a new job, but open to talk for the right opportunity. Good recruiters must be able to quickly identify the motivations of the candidate, present a compelling reason for them to talk with the recruiter, and gain the trust of the candidate. If they can’t do this, then those candidates willing to make a job change will tell the recruiter “Thanks, but no thanks.” Great recruiters are able to demonstrate to top talent how this opportunity will help them grow, how they will make an impact on the organization and work for a boss they can respect.

Good to great recruiters should add a lot more value to the hiring process than just finding candidates. The best recruiters are trusted advisers to the hiring manager and candidate. The recruiter meets multiple times at the company in order to understand the company’s culture and they should spend time with the hiring manager putting together the measurable goals to be achieved by the new person. The recruiter should help to develop an interviewing plan, they should clearly understand the needs of the candidate and communicate those to the company. The best recruiters will personally conduct a face-to-face interview with all candidates before presenting them to the company. A good recruiter will anticipate potential landmines, such as compensation issues, and address them before they explode. Finally, a good recruiter will alert the hiring manager to any issues that would cause the offer to be turned down, before the end of the process. In short, great recruiters do a lot more than just find people. They make sure that all the issues are addressed so the deal comes together and is a win/win for both. If the recruiter does a good job, two things will never happen; the hiring manager will never think, “You’re not the person I hired” and the candidate will never think, “This is not the position I accepted” or worse, “You’re not the person that hired me.”

You can explore our audio library, download free examples of compelling marketing statements, download a summary of our research project that identifies the biggest hiring mistakes, and get our culture assessment tool by clicking the links. All of these are free.

I welcome your thoughts and comments. Please forward this to your contacts on Facebook, LinkedIn, or anyone you think would benefit from this article.

Brad Remillard

Ten Mistakes Using Recruiters (Mistakes 10, 9, 8)

This entry is part 2 of 3 in the series 10 Mistake When Hiring A Recruiter

Over the years, we've heard a lot of frustration from our clients regarding recruiters. Many of them indicated that using a recruiter feels like throwing money down the drain.

Much of the frustration executives experience with recruiters stems from initial mistakes made in hiring the recruiter.

We undertook an in-depth survey project conducted over a 3-year period with 425 CEOs and senior executives. We examined the top  ten mistakes and false assumptions in working with recruiters.

Some of the Top Ten Mistakes in choosing recruiters will give you a good chuckle – particularly if you've personally fallen victim to one of these common mistakes.

Mistake #10: All Recruiters Know How to Recruit Top Talent

A major mistake that occurs during the selection of a search firm is the assumption that all recruiters are outstanding at recruiting, motivating, and nurturing the passive candidates (those candidates not actively looking for a job, but open to hearing about an opportunity if it is compelling) and engaging them in a conversation about the position. Our clients were frequently disappointed that the search firms they engaged were unable to attract and interest passive candidates. They realized that most recruiters took the easy road of fishing in the shallow end of the pool, where the candidates are all actively looking for work and don’t need to be recruited. They discovered most just ran ads to find candidates. The very best recruiters understand candidate motivation at a deep level and are able to craft compelling statements of work that appeal to the primary motivators of top talent. The Success Factor Snapshot and the Compelling Marketing Statement (you can download free examples of these CLICK HERE) provide tools for top-notch recruiters to demonstrate to a high potential candidate what they will learn, what impact they will have on the organization, and how they will grow professionally by being in this new role. The very best recruiters consistently recruit, excite, motivate and close passive candidates. You should never pay a recruiter for candidates you can find by running an ad on the job boards.

Mistake #9: A National Firm is required for an Effective Search

The executives in our study realized that choosing a national firm to conduct a search was not a guarantee of success. Issues mentioned during our survey included having the partner sell the search only to turn it over to a junior associate, not providing adequate communication, being treated as just one of many searches being conducted simultaneously, a lack of responsiveness, and once the internal budget for the project was hit, the national firm slowed or stopped working on the project. Most shocking of all, was the national search firm's lack of properly assessing the candidate. They simply box checked the skills and experience required. Rarely did the national firm link the candidate’s accomplishments to the annual or strategic goals of the company as a way to determine their ability to achieve these goals once hired.  These firms did not conduct deep and insightful interviews, did not understand how to measure or define success in the role, and were unwilling to join their clients during the interview process. Few took the time to actually meet and conduct thorough interviews with the candidates. Most simply took the easy way out and conducted a phone interview. Even when search fees range between $50K and $100K, this represents nothing more than a glorified resume service. The national search firms engaged by our survey participants lacked a rigorous process for finding and assessing talent. Too often they relied on the reputation of the firm’s name. Just because the firm has a national brand and many offices does not translate into success on search assignments.

Mistake #8: All Recruiters Have a Consultative Approach

One of the major mistakes in paying fees to recruiters is the assumption that the recruiter has a trusted advisor perspective to helping you make hires that are successful over the long term. Executives participating in our study realized that many recruiters have their own hidden agendas and short-term interests in mind when doing work for you. These can include the need to earn their fee quickly, identifying candidates with the least amount of effort, hiding negative information about the candidate, forcing a match when there is a dramatic mismatch, and overselling to close a deal that had no right to be made in the first place. The very best recruiters act as trusted advisors. They define a clear and precise process to identify and hire the talent you need. They force fierce discussions of candidate performance and fit, frequently playing devil’s advocate against your assumptions. Top talent in the recruiting field pressure their clients relentlessly to follow their rigorous process and focus on validating, vetting, and verifying candidate claims of performance and work style. They work diligently to ensure you are hiring the very best person for your open role.

You should always ask every recruiter the following question, “How does your recruiting process put candidates in the job, BEFORE we  hire them?” Most will not understand a successful recruiting and hiring process gets the candidate as close to doing the actual job as possible before they are hired. Few understand the importance of asking “How would you do X once you come on board?” Rather most ask, “Have ever done X in your background?” When the candidate replies, “Yes” they are qualified for the job. This is a common mistake.

For a comprehensive hiring process that does put candidates in the job BEFORE you hire them, consider our best-selling book “You’re NOT The Person I Hired.” CLICK HERE TO to learn more.

Want to assess your hiring process? Download our FREE 8-Point Hiring Methodology Assessment Scorecard. How does your company rank on these critical points? CLICK HERE to download.

Want some tips on attracting top talent? Download the chapter from our book, “You're NOT The Person I Hired” on sourcing, it is free. CLICK HERE to download this chapter.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback. If you liked this article, and found it helpful, please forward it to others.

Brad Remillard

10 Mistakes Companies Make When Hiring Recruiters

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series 10 Mistake When Hiring A Recruiter

This will be a series in which I discuss what research showed to be the ten biggest mistakes companies make when working with recruiters. This doesn't mean recruiters don't make mistakes. The purpose of the series is to assist companies in getting the most value when selecting or using a recruiter.

I'm regularly asked about using recruiters. Most of time it's because the person asking has had such bad experiences with recruiters. They want to know if they are wasting their money using a recruiter. A very valid point. Recruiters are really just a way of outsourcing the hiring function. It is not much different than most other outsourcing functions, so it is important that companies understand who they are outsourcing to and what the goal is for the outsourcing. Most companies do a lot of due diligence prior to deciding on whether or not to outsource and not on whom to outsource with. I'm constantly amazed at how little due diligence they do when outsourcing to recruiters, considering the fees are generally in the 5 figures.

First, let's understand the different types of third party recruiters. For the most part, recruiters fall into two categories, contingent and retained. Neither type of recruiter is better than the other. They both serve a purpose and there are excellent professionals doing contingent and retained searches.

1) Contingent recruiters get paid when the company hires a candidate the recruiter presented. Since there is no cost to the company unless they hire a candidate, companies often use more than one recruiting firm for the same position. The recruiter knows that this creates competition among the recruiters. This may sound like a good thing, but there are drawbacks. For instance, contingent recruiters know the first recruiter to get a candidate's resume in the hands of the company is the recruiter of record and therefore the one that gets the fee. In today's world, with email, there may only be a few seconds that determines which recruiter will get the fee. As a result, contingent recruiters tend to be very time based. As a recruiter who worked on contingency for 13 years, I can tell you from personal experience that there is nothing worse than finding out you didn't think a candidate was right so you didn't send the resume or that another recruiter got a candidate's resume there before you so they get the fee. Contingency isn't always about finding the best candidate. It is often about finding a hireable candidate first. Since not all companies hire the best, sometimes average talent wins the recruiter the fee.

Also with contingent recruiters, the company takes on much more of the responsibility for the hire. Meaning, often companies only view contingent recruiters as a means to source candidates and not as a trusted adviser in the hiring process.

2) Retained recruiters are just that, they are retained by the company to fill a specific position. Like a lawyer or an accountant, the company pays a percentage of the fee up front for the recruiter's services. Since the company is paying money in advance they rarely engage more than one recruiter to do the search. Retained recruiters should be a trusted adviser to the company. The recruiter should be an integral part of the hiring process. They should be involved in every step along the way, advising the company as needed to ensure the company's hiring process is effective. Since time isn't a concern, this type of recruiter should spend a lot of time learning about the company, meeting everyone in the interviewing process, understanding the company's culture, and obtaining a deep understanding of the company's business. The recruiter should bring in resources, provide interviewing coaching, bring the proper screening tools into the process, and make sure that the company is fully aware of all issues, from compensation requirements of the candidate to concerns the candidate might have that would prevent them from accepting an offer. They should meet personally with every candidate in order to build trust with the candidate. The recruiter takes a greater responsibility to make sure that the deal comes together. If the deal doesn't come together it shouldn't be because of some surprise issue at the end of the process. A good retained recruiter will make sure all of the issues have been addressed and if there are issues that can't be overcome then there is no sense in continuing the process hoping it will all work out and wasting a lot of the company's time.

Since the retained recruiter isn't competing with other recruiters time isn't the main driver. A retained recruiter has the time to thoroughly vet the candidate. If they aren't right, then there is no need to send in the resume. Better to continue the search to find the best candidate.

As I said earlier, both types of recruiters serve a purpose and both have great professionals that are willing to help you. Deciding which one best fits your needs often depends on the position you want filled (contingent generally work on lower level to mid-manager level positions, retained work on upper level director to the “C” suite), how closely you want to work with the recruiter, what services you want the recruiter to provide, and the level of trust you have in the recruiter's ability.

Regardless of which type you use, two things should never happen with a professional recruiter; the hiring manager will never think, “You're NOT the person I hired.” and the candidate should never think, “This is NOT the position I accepted” or “You're NOT the boss that hired me.”

The next article will be on mistakes #10 All recruiters know how to recruit top talent; #9 You must have a national firm to do an effective search and #8 All recruiters have a consultative approach. I will go into detail why these are common mistakes that lead to picking the wrong recruiter.

Want some tips on attracting top talent? Download the chapter from our book, You're NOT The Person I Hired, on sourcing. CLICK HERE to download this chapter.

Want to assess your hiring process? Download our FREE 8-Point Hiring Methodology Assessment Scorecard. How does your company rank on these critical points? CLICK HERE to download.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback. If you liked this article and found it helpful, please forward it to others.

Brad Remillard

Choosing Recruiters: Mistake #2 – We Need an Expert

Great recruiters search for top talent by fishing deeply rather than plucking old candidates out of databasees

Some executives believe that the only way a recruiter can be successful is to have many years of recruiting in a particular functional category (finance, marketing, human resources, manufacturing), or in a specific industry (construction, bio-technology, education, non-profit, electronics, distribution).

Using the criteria of a functional or industry expertise is a classic mistake in choosing recruiters.

The best recruiters are not industry or functional experts. Their expertise is as world-class recruiters. They know how to play detective to find the very best talent, they understand human motivation and the key elements of why candidates are open to new opportunities, and they are master interviewers capable of extracting information from candidates – information they wouldn’t share with their closest friends or spouses.

Most functional or industry focused recruiters work the same old tired lists of candidates, move the same people from one company to the next and back again, and lack an in-depth understanding of how to nurture, excite, motivate, and create passion in candidates around new opportunities. Rarely do they actually “recruit”. They have no process for identifying new candidates other than a little light networking, running advertisements, and searching their “database” of candidates.

Two decades ago (B.I. – Before Internet – who can even remember this???), the only way to be successful as a recruiter was to specialize since the data you possessed in a 3×5 card system was your inventory or earning potential. Your success as a recruiter was a function of the strength of your network. Today, within 24-48 hours, any good recruiter can identify 80-90% of the key targets on an executive search using the Internet (Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, ZoomInfo, Jigsaw, industry lists and publications, and many times – simply visiting the competitor websites). There is NO longer any need to maintain a unique database of candidates in a particular functional discipline or industry specialization.

Recruiters who still hang onto the tribal methods of recruiting from 20 years ago will claim “I know all the key players in the industry”, “I am well connected”, “I have an extensive database”, “I once held the blank title for the same job you want to hire” or “I worked for years in the blank industry”. None of these claims translate into being a great recruiter. You might have once been a great CFO or Marketing Executive, but that doesn’t mean you’re a good recruiter. Just because you have a phone and a rolodex does not mean you can recruit top talent. The recruiters who claim they have the industry contacts and databases will typically throw a bunch of resumes at you while keeping their fingers crossed that you fall in love with one of them – consequently owing a recruiting fee.

This is not recruiting – it doesn’t even remotely resemble executive search. Instead, it’s nothing more than brokerage – flinging resumes by email with the hope that something will stick. The best recruiters understand which ponds to fish in and how deeply to fish in each pond. The best recruiters EARN their fees by uncovering the very best talent – not candidates who are convenient from their database.  Brokerage (or a referral fee for flinging a resume) shouldn’t be worth more than 5-10% of the candidates first year compensation. Real search fees in the 30% range can only be justified if the recruiter does the following:

Identification of target candidates

A major campaign to convince those candidates to interview and leave their current jobs

Helping you to screen, interview, validate, and vet candidates instead of box-checking job descriptions and then “flinging resumes” (more on why most recruiters don’t see their job as helping you to interview and evaluate candidates in a future posting).

Let me share a personal example: My specialty as an executive recruiter is recruiting – and Brad and I are two of the top recruiters in the United States – how many recruiters can claim they are great recruiters as opposed to “I understand what it’s like to be a CFO or I understand the industrial fastener market”.

If you are a company executive, which would you rather have:

A recruiter who claims to understand the functional role and industry and suggests they have a great database,


A recruiter who has a proven track record of ferreting out the best talent, motivating that talent to get excited about your opportunity, and helping you to validate they can deliver the results you desire.

You obviously want the recruiter who can deliver the results you desire – why then do most companies use the wrong criteria to pick recruiters.

Brad and I talk have spoken a number of times in our weekly radio show about choosing recruiters. You can download our radio shows in our FREE audio archive. We are also preparing a recruiter best practice scorecard which you can use to benchmark recruiters before choosing a firm to help you fill a critical role.

Barry Deutsch

Don’t forget to join our LinkedIn Discussion Group on Hiring and Retaining Top Talent for a more in-depth discussion on choosing recruiters.