Work force partner Featured

8:00pm EDT June 25, 2007

Finding top talent isn’t always something employers have the time or resources to do as well as they’d like.

In today’s market, the low unemployment rate is making it even tougher to obtain the experience, skills and professionalism required for many positions. There may come a time when companies that have never utilized the service of a recruiter will find themselves seeking out that partnership to support their hiring needs on core and skilled positions.

“The days when you could place an ad and get 30 qualified people are gone,” says Kim Kilgoar, direct-hire recruiter at Spherion. “Now, it’s necessary to leverage referrals, strong networking and direct recruiting.”

Smart Business spoke to Kilgoar about what business managers need to know when working with a direct-hire recruiter.

What should an employer look for in a direct-hire recruiter?

There are several components, one of the most important being experience. In addition, you may want to find a recruiter that is associated with an agency that can support the recruitment of multiple skill sets. Also, I feel it’s worthwhile to find a recruiter who displays stability within his or her own career — not just within recruiting. I encourage companies to ask to meet their recruiter or at least request to see the prospective recruiter’s resume.

It’s also important for an employer to know where a recruiter obtains his or her candidates. Many recruiters rely solely on Internet job boards. They have their place, but job boards should be merely one tool in the workbench. You’ll want to dig deeper and inquire about the recruiter’s networks. I appreciate it when clients ask me that, and I’m always happy to describe the organizations I’m involved in or the committees I chair.

How engaged should a recruiter be with an employer during the recruiting process?

Since I refer to myself as a partner to my clients, my involvement is just that, a partnership. With all new clients or new locations, a recruiter should visit the site and get a taste for the culture and environment. It’s imperative to meet hiring managers and ‘report-to’ contacts.

Once all introductory work has been completed, the candidate submission process begins. The recruiter should submit only the top candidates, incorporating heavy notes along with their resumes. Clients need to stay informed about the candidate’s work history, test scores, behavioral and traditional interview results, and references. The next step is to get the interviews scheduled, a process the recruiter should handle. He or she can also extend an offer on the client’s behalf and continue to follow up with both the client and candidate. It is so important that both the candidate and client receive feedback. I tell my clients all the time that I make those follow-up calls to protect their and my investment.

What happens if a new employee isn’t working out?

A direct-hire fee agreement should offer a guarantee. In the rare case an arrangement doesn’t work out, our first step is to investigate the circumstances. Often, we find there has been a miscommunication about some aspect of the job, and these gaps can frequently be bridged to everyone’s satisfaction. If the situation can’t be remedied in that manner, the search starts over. It’s very important to take action the moment a potential problem surfaces and to stay with it until it is resolved to the employer’s satisfaction.

How does direct-hire differ from temp-to-hire?

Temp-to-hire is a ‘try before you buy’ concept that enables an employer to hire a worker on a temporary basis for a negotiated period of time. Based upon the employee’s work performance, they can be hired by the client for a negotiated fee. However, temp-to-hire candidates recognize the risk of not being hired permanently by the client and therefore often continue to search for a permanent position during this temp-hire period. In many cases, companies are forced to start all over again if a temp-hire candidate finds and accepts another permanent position.

So, in today’s market, temp-to-hire may no longer be the most effective solution. With the unemployment rate so low, most good, skilled people are currently working or they are looking for a permanent position. If I recruit a great candidate from another company, chances are he or she is not going to leave his or her job for a tempto-hire situation. Direct-hire also broadens the talent pool that I can recruit in for my clients, allowing me to find industry-specific, skilled candidates who may be currently employed. They may even be from the same industry or a competitor and therefore able to bring skills and experience, which enable them to make an immediate contribution.

Anything else an employer should consider?

The bottom line is to ask yourself, ‘Is our agency recruiter reducing turnover and filling open job orders on my timetable, are they engaged in our work force objectives, and am I truly getting a return on my investment?’ If you can’t overwhelmingly say ‘yes’ to these questions, it’s probably time to re-evaluate your current recruiter.

KIM KILGOAR is a direct-hire recruiter with Spherion in Atlanta. Reach her at (770) 423-0397 or