Finding the right professionals Featured

12:00pm EDT September 21, 2006
Finding and hiring the correct candidate for a job — whether labor or professional — can be an expensive and time-consuming process for a corporation. One way to shortcut both hurdles is to hire a professional recruiter. However, hiring a recruiter is just like hiring a new employee; you need to choose the right one.

Smart Business asked Brent Short, managing director for Spherion Professional Services Group, what a company should expect from a recruiting firm.

Isn’t networking the best way to find a job or an employee?
It’s true that networking works best. When you work with a recruiting firm, you are using our networking group. And we are networking every day.

Why hire a recruiting firm?
The biggest benefit is that you are hiring our network of people. And we know the individuals. Nine out of 10 times, we know the good eggs and the bad eggs in a particular field. It is not a matter of matching a person to a resume. It’s a matter of finding the right fit for the right job. If a person is a free-wheeling computer programmer, there is no reason to send him or her to a button-down kind of office.

Where does a company start?
The best place is to start with internal employees about potential workers. Ask who they know who might be right for the job. We see a number of companies offering lucrative bonuses — $4000 to $6000 — if an employee finds a match who stays 90 days to six months. If that does not work out right away, look for recruiting help.

What’s next?
Pick a recruiting firm you know and trust. Or choose two firms. You are buying their networks. But look, too, at what other things the company will do for you. Do they qualify candidates with a 10-minute phone interview or do they bring them into the office for a 45-minute sit-down talk? Are they active in negotiations?

What about job boards?
The job board route is no better than classified ads were 10 years ago. Do you really want to invest time and money in fielding all the irrelevant calls from who-knows-where? Most companies are too busy to deal with that sort of situation. A good recruiter will have a list of your ‘must-haves’ and your ‘Christmas wish list.’ If you can walk away with half the list checked off, you win.

Is a perfect match reasonable to expect?
There are two schools of thought: get an experienced person, further along in his or her career; or get a younger, cheaper hire who you can mold to your fit. Today we see a lot of more-experienced candidates, perhaps with a salary history over $100,000, who have great skills but have been out of work for a while. They are willing to accept a job for $65,000 with benefits.

What other things does a recruiter offer?
First — and the most critical in the process — is that we help negotiate salary. Second, we do reference checks. That can range from calling previous employers to doing a full background check.

Third, we offer confidentiality — in both directions. Often a company doesn’t want the competition or its internal staff to know it is in the job market. Or a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ will not allow it to hire from a direct competitor. We can make those initial phone calls without naming the company involved.

Fourth, we save our clients a lot of time. They don’t have to be bothered with phone calls, e-mails, letters and the like — often from candidates who are not at all good fits for the job.

How long does the recruiting process take?
The total time depends on how quickly your company sees the candidates. Generally speaking, it will take us from 48 hours to a week to find viable candidates. The time to hire, if everyone moves expeditiously, usually is about three weeks.

What will this cost a firm?
Typically, in the Tampa area, it is 25 percent of the first year’s salary. A lower fee is not necessarily good. You have to ask what part of the process is the firm not doing in exchange for a lower fee. And are they going to show you their top candidate for a lower fee?

Is it a buyer’s or seller’s market?
In Tampa Bay, unemployment right now is 2.2 percent. If you want a job, there’s one out there for you. Because of the low unemployment rate, it’s tougher to not only to locate the right candidate, but also to navigate the hiring process.

BRENT SHORT is managing director for Spherion Professional Services Group. Reach him at (813) 864-1111 or