1. It is never “free” to hire someone. When you factor in running an ad on the job boards, taking time away from production to screen and interview every interested candidate, and then include the lost revenue that results from the position remaining open for any extended period of time, there is always a cost to hiring.
2. That being said, yes: Companies can absolutely hire people without using a recruiter. Many do so all the time with great success. Others that never use a recruiter screw it up royally and have horrible turnover (which, fun fact, also costs money). And still others—probably the largest chunk of the pie—do it both ways. Some positions they fill on their own, some they outsource for a fee.
Usually that satisfies them, but occasionally they keep pressing. That’s when I bust out my favorite analogy: Recruiters are like auto mechanics. Let me explain.
In theory, there’s nothing that could possibly go wrong with my car that I can’t fix on my own. In the Age of YouTube, there’s a DIY video for everything, right? So if I don’t already know how to fix the problem (which, for the record, is everything other than changing the headlights, the air filter, or the tire) I can look up a video, buy or rent the required tools, and have at it.
Will I do the job the right way? Maybe. Maybe not.
Let’s look at the best-case scenario first.
If I somehow manage to fix whatever was wrong, yes I would likely have saved money compared to the cost of taking it to the shop. I also would very likely have taken twice as long—if not longer—than the professionals would have taken. And it damn sure would be a lot longer than the time it takes me to drop the car off and then pick it up when it’s done. So I need to be willing to take time away from other things I’d rather be doing in order to complete the project. There’s also a better-than-average chance that somewhere along the way I make a mistake. If I’m lucky, it isn’t anything that can’t be fixed, but that only adds more time and potentially more money if I need to buy new parts or a new tool to undo what I did wrong. And that’s what happens in the best case scenario.
In the worst case scenario, I completely mess it up, break five more things trying to fix the original thing that broke, potentially ruin the car for good and end up spending MORE money and a lot more time than it would have cost to just let the pros handle it.
Recruiting is no different. If you’re a manager who knows how to interview, where to find elusive talent and how to negotiate offers that reflect value for both sides, then by all means go get ‘em, tiger.
But for everyone else? If it’s a position that’s important to the health and success of your company and—like many business owners/managers—you don’t have the time or energy to sift through hundreds of resumes to find the one candidate that looks like a fit, and then pray they still look like a fit after you get done interviewing them, then it’s probably best to let the professionals handle it.