Diving deep for talent

Getting a specialist recruiter to seek out potential candidates can give your organisation an important edge in recruitment markets. HRM finds out more

HR often wears itself thin by being a jack of all trades. Realising this, an increasing number of organisations are seeing the value of delegating some HR functions to third parties so that the internal team has time for more strategic pursuits. Recruitment is one area where external hiring specialists can make a sizeable difference in netting the best talent.

Recruiters are well-embedded in the market and are able to access a wider and more diverse candidate pool, far beyond the scope of just advertising, says Chris Mead, Regional Director, Hays, Singapore and Malaysia. “This includes reaching passive candidates who are often the most sought after candidates for the role.”

Joanne Chua, Associate Director, Robert Walters Singapore, concurs. “The knowledge of the quality and availability of talent pool far exceeds that of in-house HR departments, who have more on their plates than just recruitment. “

Specialist recruiters also focus on specific industries and job functions. This gives them a better understanding of that particular market than someone in a more generalist HR function.

Such recruiters often know the movers and shakers of their industries and are part of a person’s career journey, says Lynne Ng, Regional Director, Southeast Asia, Adecco. “Trusted recruiters have formed formidable relationships with job seekers which benefit clients as they often recommend and match the right talent for the job. Companies also benefit through the relationships these recruiters have with candidates.”


HR and the external recruiter

HR needs to build a good relationship with its recruiter from the get go in order for the endeavour to gain success. Communication channels have to be open and plentiful, says Mead. “The recruiter not only needs to know what roles you need filled but the essence of your businesses. So to really understand each other and the needs involved for both parties, it’s best to have regular face-to-face meetings and briefings that ensure everyone is on the same page.”

It is also critical that recruiters understand their clients internal HR policies from the beginning. “Be transparent and share the goals and objectives so that everyone is clear on what they should achieve and therefore meet and exceed targets,” Ng says.

Providing the recruiter with just a brief list of job prerequisites is not sufficient, says Chua. “In order for an external recruiter to be more targeted and effective in selling a role and company to potential candidates, he or she would need information which may not be found in the job description.”

HR should also arrange for meetings between the recruiter and the hiring or line manager, says Chua. This is extremely beneficial in assessing team and management dynamics and enables recruiters to present candidates who have the right personality and potential to work with the team, she adds.

According to Chua, such early meetings will also help manage expectations. “This is exceptionally important as candidates may not fit all requirements to a tee. Hence, having meetings enables more effective information sharing, faster identification of the right talent, and as such, facilitation of a smoother recruitment partnership.”


Common mistakes

Getting a third party to take over your organisation’s recruitment efforts is not without its pitfalls. However, some careful forward planning and understanding can go a long way in forging an effective partnership.

Managing costs is most likely at the top of the agenda, as organisations want the most bang for their buck. However, choosing a recruiter based on costs alone could backfire, experts warn. “Basing your decision solely on the fees of a recruiter can mean you not only compromise on the quality of service you receive but also potentially impact negatively on your employment brand in the market. Rather, look at the recruiter’s track record,” says Mead.

Some recruiters for example, offer guarantees, like replacing a candidate who quits after a brief stint. “Looking at not only the percentage of roles to the percentage of placements a recruiter has made but examining the retention rate of the candidates that have been placed is a valuable tool in ensuring you choose the right recruiter,” says Mead.

There should also be no secrets between the recruiter and HR, says Ng. “There has to be an element of trust and understanding. They should not be viewed as competitors, but rather as partners.”

It is critical that the recruitment firm is furnished with all the correct information about the company, role, department, organisation culture, and management team, says Chua.” If this is misrepresented in the market place by the wrong recruitment firm, it can be extremely damaging to the reputation of the organisation.”

Chua also suggests that employers request at least three references from the recruiter’s clients to vouch for its service and delivery.


Contingency or retainer?


Recruitment firms mainly offer two types of services:

• Retainer – This arrangement is based on a trusted and often exclusive partnership. The external recruiter is an extension of the internal recruitment team. A part of the payment is made at the start of the search and the remainder is paid at the end of the assignment.

• Contingency – The recruiter only gets paid if they successfully fill a position.


Hiring a recruiter:

Top four attributes to look out for


The right expertise

Choose a recruiter who is an expert and who has access to a wide pool of both active and passive candidates. Recruitment, like most fields, has become increasingly specialised and it is a recruiter’s job to connect employers looking for staff with appropriate candidates. This connection is made much smoother by the services of a recruiter who knows their market well. So if you are a HR or hiring manager looking for your next staff member, look for a recruiter with depth of expertise and technical understanding.


Track record

What are the capabilities of the recruitment firm in this particular industry or for this role or level? How long has the company been operating in that industry? Who is working on that particular account? How long have they been with the firm? Have they personally been responsible for those types of roles? The credibility and integrity of an organisation can largely be seen from its track record.


Strong negotiation skills

While it is critical to have strong relationships skills, it is also important that the recruiter is able to close the deal. Striking the fine balance between the client’s demands and the candidate’s asking salary is often a sensitive part of negotiation so a good consultant will know how to open the conversation and yet be able to close the deal within the time frame allocated.


Cultural alignment

Making sure your recruiter is culturally aligned with your organisation is paramount. This means that they fully understand your businesses and what it is you are looking for in your employees in order to engage with the right candidates. You’ll want to choose a recruiter who can help you maximise your options and ensure you receive access to the highest quality candidates.



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