Maximizing Your Recruitment Resources

SELECTING OUTSIDE ORGANIZATIONS to help you identify and approach high-performance job candidates can be highly effective if you know how best to utilize their services. Contingency and retained search firms are constantly looking for new clients to add to their rosters, but at what salary level does contingency stop and retainer start? What options do you have for blending the two types of services? What niches have research firms filled vis-a-vis traditional headhunting outfits? And how can outplacement firms help you identify top performers who may currently be in transition through no fault of their own? Let's take each of these issues one at a time and then provide you with resources for further research.

Recruitment Option 1: Contingency Search Firms

Contingency recruiters come in two basic flavors: (1) professional/technical search and (2) administrative support recruitment. You're probably well aware of traditional clerical support agencies that place secretaries, staff accountants, customer services representatives, and the like. Such organizations typically place job candidates earning $100,000 a year and under. Professional/technical agencies, in comparison, usually specialize in individual disciplines like accounting and finance, data processing and information technology, retail, software engineering, and pharmaceutical sales. Such candidates typically earn somewhere between $50,000 and $125,000 a year.

What these firms have in common is that they operate on contingency, meaning that they get paid only if you, the client, hire one of their candidates. The contingency recruitment field is a high-volume, brokerage business that achieves economies of scale by placing candidates with similar skills, knowledge, and abilities into organizations with like needs. That s why they specialize in particular technical disciplines. In searching for candidates with a predetermined profile, agencies develop candidates who simultaneously meet multiple client companies needs. In short, it s a business set up to prove capitalism right—those search firms that are the most successful at meeting clients' demands flourish. Therefore, working with contingency recruiters is a win-win situation: You pay only if your needs are met.

Contingency recruiters earn a fee based on a percentage of the candidate s annual salary. The typical formula is 1 percent per thousand dollars of the candidate' s first-year earnings, to a maximum of 33 percent. For example, if you re a semiconductor manufacturer looking for an early-career sales engineer who earns $75,000 a year, then your fee to a contingency recruiter who successfully finds someone for you is $24,750, or 33 percent of $75,000. Contingency search firms also offer a safety-net guarantee period in case a candidate doesn't work out in the first quarter. Those guarantees usually come in the form of a thirty-day free trial (where the fee you paid is totally refunded) followed by a sixty-day candidate replacement period (where the agency replaces the candidate at no additional cost). Although fees and guarantees are sometimes negotiable, this is standard fare in the contingency search industry.

If you need to contact a contingency search firm with professional industry certification, you can access the members' directory of The National Association of Personnel Services online at The mailing address is:

The National Association of Personnel Services 131 Prominence Court, Suite 130 Dawsonville, GA 30534 (706) 531-0060

The directory profiles 1,200 member firms in the contingency search and temporary fields of employment. It' s divided by job specialty and geographic location to make the job of selecting a placement firm that much easier. And again, companies that have spent the dollars and energy to pass professional exams to become better service providers to their clients stand a much better chance of presenting solutions to your staffing needs.

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