If you’re like most small business owners, your typical reaction when one of your key employees quits is “Oh, #*%$!” Hiring a qualified replacement can be hard, and doing it quickly often seems impossible. Or what if you have a new position to fill? Do you relish the chance to recruit the perfect candidate, or do you regret having to dip back into the employment pool?
Many business owners view hiring as a chore rather than an opportunity. In the heat of making sales and processing orders, you just want to get a warm body in that open position rather than expend the effort to find the right candidate.
But good employees are key to a business’s success. The problem is that most small-business owners don’t have the time to do it right. Advertising, culling through resumes, and interviewing candidates can be a full-time job. That’s why many companies look to third-party recruiters to help them hire better.
You might think that hiring a recruiter is too expensive. It can be, but so can all the time and money you’ve spent in the last year on identifying, recruiting, and hiring people. Try to quantify your recruiting efforts in dollars and cents. Include the impact that the diversion had on your business. Then compare that to the typical fee of a recruiter, which is anywhere from 20 percent to 35 percent of a candidate’s salary. You may be surprised at how close the costs are.
In fact, one of the benefits of hiring a recruiter is that you’ll have a controlled, fixed cost: You’ll know what it’s going to cost you to fill that position. Plus, the right recruiter can do the job better and faster than you can.
After you compare the cost of hiring an outside recruiter with the cost of your time spent on the hiring process, honestly evaluate the results of your hiring. Have you hired good employees? Or are they mediocre? Have you had to fire some of them? Have they quit after only a few months?
Another consideration before hiring a recruiter is the type of candidate you’re after. Do you have specific positions that are particularly hard to fill? Is there a talent shortage for the jobs? Even if you have an in-house human resources person who handles the hiring, you may still need a recruiter from time to time to help you with very specialized or high-level positions. In fact, an outside recruiter may have access to people you couldn’t legally or ethically consider. It may be unethical for you to try to hire talent away from your competitors, but a third-party recruiter is free to contact particular people to tell them about new opportunities.
Competition for candidates across industries is likely to increase as baby boomers hit retirement age. It’s becoming tougher to find qualified candidates to replace retirees. There are going to be 35 million fewer people available to fill the jobs that baby boomers are leaving in the United States alone. Some industries may be harder hit than others, but all employers will have to compete more ferociously for good people in an increasingly tight labor market.
Finally, a recruiter can help you hire strategically rather than ad hoc. If you retain a recruiter on an ongoing basis, he or she can help you develop a plan for attracting good people, hiring the right people for the right jobs, and managing them so that they don’t jump ship at the first opportunity.