Recruiters are Like Auto Mechanics

by Gregg Podolski, Vice President, Direct Hire Division at Emerson Group

“You’re a recruiter? Why do companies pay you to do that? Can’t they just hire people on their own for free?” I hear some variation of this very often whenever someone finds out what I do for a living.  Here’s my best answer:

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.

Unfortunately, there a lot of bad recruiters out there who have combined to give the industry a pretty good black eye. Bad auto mechanics are every bit as prevalent, and have harmed their industry’s reputation the same way. These are the guys who look and sound shady whenever you talk to them. The ones who find an extra $1,000 worth of broken parts you didn’t even know existed when all you did was go in for an oil change.

But—just like recruiters—there are plenty of good mechanics out there, too. People who genuinely care about you and your experience with them. Professionals who will talk you through every option to repair your vehicle without any high-pressure scare tactics. When you find a mechanic like that, not only do you never take your car anywhere else, but you refer all your friends and family to them, too.

Good recruiters will take the time to get to know you and your business before they even consider taking on a search on your behalf. They won’t just ask for the job specs to be emailed over so they can post it on CareerBuilder or Monster or Indeed and wait to submit whatever applicants apply.  You can do that yourself.

They will take the time to learn about the people this position will be working with. They’ll take time to go visit your office and see your company culture first hand. They will screen all candidates against that culture fit, and dig deep into their work experience rather than just checking off requirements based on a resume. They will counsel you on whether or not the position you’re looking to fill is even the one you need right now, or if you’re better off going in another direction. They will do this at the risk of losing a potential fee because at the end of the day, they’re more interested in making your company better than they are of making their wallet fatter.

That’s what makes people trust you, and trust is a big part of this business. Just like you need to trust the person working to make your car run smoother, you need to trust the person working to make your company run better.

Gregg Podolski, is the Vice President of  Emerson Group’s Direct Hire division. Gregg works on positions in all industries including C-Level Suite, Sales, Account Management, IT and Manufacturing/Operations/Project Managers.

#ProfessionalSearch #EmersonGroup #Hiring

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