5 Things You Should Do Before Hiring A Recruiting Firm

recruiting firm

How much is the ideal candidate worth to you? $3,000? $5,000? $20,000? According to Top Echelon Network, placement of a mid-level manager can cost over $20,000, and possibly much more depending how senior the candidate is. A recruiter can cost companies starting out at $40k and get close to the six-figure range, depending on their bonus and compensation plans. However, unless the candidate is in sales, it’s difficult to calculate how much a good candidate is worth versus a poor one. That leaves a lot of companies asking: should we in-house our recruiting efforts, or outsource?

For in-house, that will involve hiring someone to specifically handle the recruiting process to help gather candidates. For smaller companies, it could even include having the hiring manager do all of the work which will include posting an ad, setting up an interview and screening through the submitted resumes. If you work in a small company, out-sourcing can appear more attractive because people are spread thin, and the brand does not have awareness to generate demand. On the other hand, larger companies have enough money to hire recruiting firms, but are left asking the question: whether or not should we in-house recruiting?

The Headhunter Problem

Most companies fall into two buckets: if they consistently get enough applicants, they will probably keep everything in-house, or they don’t get enough candidates, they consider outsourcing the whole process to a headhunter agency.

Because of this confusion I decided to put together a few items that companies should do before outsourcing the process of recruiting. Keep in mind, I travel all around the world helping companies with workplace dynamics including a few recruiting firms. In addition, I have been in over 500 interviews, and do a bit of recruiting for my own company. In other words, I have been on both ends of the interview table, so my perspective could be a bit unique on this topic.



If you are not getting the quality of candidates that you would ideally like, you need to get systematic about recruiting. Just like marketing a product, recruiting is very much the same way. Candidates first find out about the company, then go through a series of qualifying steps, and eventually become sold on the company and join the team. With this framework, a lot of implied procedures and techniques that can be leveraged into this process.

For instance, let’s say that the second-round interview, your company is not getting enough candidates through. You need to look up the funnel process to see where the bottleneck is. Most small organizations don’t see it this systematic, instead, they go onto a few job posts, post some ads and wait. If they get enough to apply, but don’t get enough qualified candidates, they need to look further up the funnel such as using a different platform. Recruiting, once broken into a system can use diagnostics to magically find solutions. Do this, and the problems will be easier than ever to spot.


Many companies prefer the unstructured interview. Essentially, sitting across from a candidate, and asking them random questions, in order to get a feel for them and their background. However, there are many studies that state that these types of interviews unperformed structured interviews. By underperform, I mean that if the candidates do well in the interview, the more likely they will do well on the job.

Hence, if you are making the shift to structured interviews, take a set of questions and ask all candidate the ones and record the answers. Then, evaluate their scores and determine who should move to the next round. You will find over time this type of interview outperforms unstructured interviews, even though it feels intuitively off.



When I was on the job hunt, I rarely found companies that effectively used recruiting videos in their process. Usually, the best I would find is a company video talking about how great it is to work there. Or even maybe, a funny one that probably cost tens of thousands of dollars to make.

When adding videos to your recruitment process, the first place to add videos is the initial job post. Why? Research has found that candidates engage with the job ad, 800% more with a video, than no video. Usually for these videos, you want to either include a cut of someone of a similar demographic giving a testimonial of working at the company. Versus, the standard, high production recruitment video that showcases the companies benefits. Use video as much as you can, it’s a great way to build rapport and separate yourself from other companies.


What if you don’t need a dream candidate for a particular position and you can settle with someone average? What a lot of companies fail to do when evaluating a certain role is determined whether the financial benefit of getting an average employee versus a ‘Rockstar’ is worth it. For instance, let’s say you are hiring for someone in sales, where the average sales employee earns $100k in revenue, while top performers earn $200k in revenue each year. Would it be worth it to find the best candidate possible with a recruiter help if they charged you $20k? Probably, since finding a great candidate will be a $100k more for the price of $20k.

The only asterisk here, is wondering if a recruiting can outperform the companies’ brand. If the recruiting only asks for money if you hire their candidate, then it’s a pretty good deal and worth pursuing. Do your homework before throwing it to a headhunting agency.


Most companies find out the ‘reason why someone should join the company’ through asking the executive team. When that happens you probably will get someone along the lines of ‘most disruptive company in the healthcare space’, or similar industry jargon that sounds extremely prefabricated. Instead of asking executives why employees should join the company, interview the employees internally about why they joined. Even better, ask the same position or demographics that you are specifically trying to hire.

What you will find will astonish you. A lot of the time, employees join the company for silly reasons like, – it was close to downtown or they were really fast in the recruitment process.

You can derive these answers in two different ways, qualitative and quantitatively. Quantitatively consists of surveying a bunch of employees and writing down their answers for why they joined the company. On the other hand, qualitative is when you bring the employees together in a focus group and ask why they joined the company. In a focus group, the employees being interviewed will start uncovering answers they you definitely need to include in the recruiting process. They will do the work for you!

Sometimes, all it takes is a little asking around to improve a process. If you do these 5 things and are still having issues hiring the right candidate, then I suggest biting the bullet, and outsourcing this process to a headhunting firm.

focus group

Jeff Butler

Jeff Butler Internationally respected speaker and consultant, Jeff Butler helps bridge generational gaps between Millennials and companies looking for their talent and patronage. Butler has quickly built his reputation as a memorable presenter with tangible solutions for attracting, retaining, and engaging Millennials as employees and customers. Within just the past three years, he has spoken at two TEDx events and multiple Fortune 500 companies such as Google, Amazon, and LinkedIn.


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