How Do You Evaluate and Select Your Recruiting Sources?

Originally published on LinkedIn

After we moved to Pennsylvania a few years ago, I bought an SUV. I wasn’t sure what to buy, so I went on the web, looked at a variety of guides, read reviews from existing owners, examined price at different dealers, found the best price in my area, then looked at service contracts and what the best price was I could get for one before I walked into the dealer’s showroom.

All the stories about customers getting into the sales office and getting snowed into overspending didn’t happen to me because I learned what I wanted in advance, and shopped for the best price in the two places where I would be charged the most —the car and the service contract.

When the dealer heard my counteroffer on their service contract price, they asked how I determined that amount. I answered, “It’s $50 over your cost and the fact is, I’m going to come in here for service anyway so you might as well collect the money from me.”

Show as Much Care to Your Choices as You Do With Other Purchases

When most companies agree to have a recruiter work on helping them fill their jobs, most know far less about the recruiter than I did about my SUV. They select the recruiter because

  1. They called at just the right time
  2. Got through to them on the phone
  3. Were willing to agree to their fee terms
  4. Claimed expertise in the market that the job was in.
  5. Have a voice or presentation that you found “tolerable”
  6. Procurement or sourcing approved them based upon the first 5 items on the list
  7. Social proof from someone on staff

And of the items on the list, the only one that has some validity is #7 and I can make a strong case that it is flawed as the others.

Is it any wonder that most of what you receive from recruiters seems like resumes are flipped to you like burgers at a fast food restaurant? What do you really know about this person, their firm or their abilities?

Instead of just listening to the “typical agency speech,” consider asking them a few questions. If you ask about their experience, most junior recruiters will claim more  than they actually have so that may not be a useful tactic.

Ask them about the jobs they’ve worked on. Listen to how they answer your questions for holes in their story. Your questions might include

Talking about a similar search they’ve worked on

Clients in your industry they’ve supported in a similar search (I wouldn’t care about the client name; I would be more interested in their story)

Whether they only do work in your geographic area or field or in a broader territory

How did they hear about this position being available?

To whom do they report?

What challenges do they think they might have qualifying someone for the position?

Do they have any “real life” expertise in this field (have they been an accountant doing this kind of work)?

How will you evaluate and assess someone and determine if they are qualified?

Are they published? Do they write for the trades (or publish an ezine, written a book or created video or podcast content)?

Google the person and the firm.

It’s not just what they say, but how they describe their experience that will help you determine if they will be useful or a probable waste of time.

Once you choose them, communicate changes in the thinking about the job to them.

Often,from the time a position description is approved until the time it is filled, a job description actually goes through frequent and subtle changes based upon the people that you meet.

If you don’t communicate the changes to the recruiter, how would you expect them to know of them?

This happens much too frequently and slows the staffing process down unnecessarily.

And aren’t you trying to fill your positions quickly with the least amount of effort?


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There is a lot of free content available at my website that you can watch, listen to or read. to help you be more effective with your hiring process or to help with changing jobs. I hope you find some of it useful.