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Five questions to ask before hiring a recruiting firm
Staffing & Recruitment

Five questions to ask before hiring a recruiting firm

Companies spend millions of dollars every year on recruiting and the majority of them don't have time to track the success of that investment. If you have the capital and funding, then hiring a recruiting firm might be a necessity. But before you hire a recruitment firm, here are five questions to determine whether their services are right for you.

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Devon Fata
June 28, 2022

You’ve decided to outsource your talent acquisition process, but how do you know which staffing firm is right for you? There are thousands of recruiting firms in the US, and finding the right fit can be difficult. But before you start reaching out, here are five questions to ask that should help to get you started:

1. What is your recruiting process and how do you provide value?

You want to know how the recruiter will help you hire great people. The first step in this process is understanding recruitment strategy and how it relates to your specific goals. Some recruiters use a traditional approach to hiring, while others develop a customized plan based on best practices they’ve identified through experience or research. You should ask your potential firm about their processes and determine if they align with what you need—and don’t let them be vague or evasive when it comes time for this conversation!

At Pixoul, we use a mixture of classic recruiting techniques with advanced technology methods to create a unique blend of human interaction, AI, machine learning, and more to attract and source talent. Once you understand the recruiting process, ask about the value provided by that process: what kind of results can we expect? Recruiters who are able to clearly articulate these expectations are more likely than others (who may skip over this part) that they will deliver on them in a timely fashion throughout your relationship together.

Also consider asking about turnover rates: how many people leave within 90 days? How many quit after six months? How often does this happen? Be weary of firms who can't provide firm numbers or only give industry averages and talk in generalities.

2. What industry do you specialize in?

It's not enough to just identify a strong staffing or recruiting firm. You want to make sure that you're partnering with one who understands your business, too. After all, if you've identified a great staffing company but they don't understand what makes your company unique, then it's likely that you won't find employees who will make a strong skill- or culture-fit in the long run.

The first step is understanding what areas and industries a staffing firm has experience placing or staffing candidates. Do they specialize in one single industry or multiple industries? Who are their past clients? What positions do they commonly staff for?

Once you've identified what industries a recruiting or staffing firm usually targets, confirm that they have the industry knowledge and expertise to help your company.

3. How do you measure success?

This is an important question to ask because it's the foundation of any successful working relationship. Your recruiter should be able to tell you how they measure success and provide examples of what that looks like for their clients. The metrics used to measure success are often different from one firm to another, but some common ones include:

  • Success rate (i.e., % of hires made)
  • Time-to-fill (i.e., time between posting job ad and filling position)
  • Cost per hire/cost per placement (i.e., total salary paid divided by number of new hires)

In our opinion, it's important to consider the estimated time it will take to fill a position, the total involved cost (ROI), as well as overall client satisfaction. Again, sometimes reviews and past client relationships can be a great metric to understand success.

4. What are the terms of engagement?

Before you hire a recruiting firm, make sure you have a clear understanding of what the terms of engagement are. This way, there are no surprises down the road and your expectations are aligned with their services.

If you don't know what to ask them specifically, use this list as a guide:

  • How long will we be working together?
  • What is included in our engagement (i.e., what is not)?
  • How will payment be made? Is it based on placement or results? Are there any other fees involved that I should know about now so I can plan accordingly?
  • What do you do to make a placement successful for both parties involved (you and me)?
  • Will I be working with the same recruiters throughout the entire process or will they rotate in and out depending on my needs at any given time throughout this process?

It's important that you review and sign an agreement that works for your company. At Pixoul, we use our standardized agreement for all clients, which we can then adjust based on the unique needs and preferences of the client.

Understanding the terms of an arrangement is important; finding a firm that will put your needs above their own is even more so.

5. Why should we choose you over another staffing firm?

You should ask every recruiting firm you're considering 'why are you the best choice?'. If they can't provide an answer, then perhaps it's not worth working with them.

There are a few ways to get at this question:

  • Do you have more expertise in certain industries than other staffing firms? If so, what is it?
  • What makes your team different from others?
  • How can you guarantee working with you is the right move for us?

The reality is each potential client has unique needs. At Pixoul, we won't say we're the best fit for every company. If you're looking for IT, product design, engineering, or marketing roles, we'd love to talk.

If you're looking for a firm that is truly unique, check out our federal R&D tax credits. We go above and beyond staffing, to help our clients get their money back, dollar-for-dollar, on their spend with us. By utilizing federal tax credits, your work with us can be considered a direct offset on your tax liability. Why? Because we go above and beyond to show how important long-term partnerships are for us.

A qualified recruiting firm will be able to answer these questions.

Before you hire a recruiting firm, it's important to ask the right questions. You should be specific about what you need and how the company can meet those needs. Some firms, like Pixoul, are hyper-concerned about quality (the value their candidates can bring to clients). Other firms are more concerned about quantity (the number of candidates they can send to employers. Neither approach is wrong, but they are different.

Determine what is important to you, and work with a firm to understand communication style, ability, expectations, and more. It all starts with a conversation.

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Devon Fata

Devon is the Chief Executive of Pixoul LLC. He works closely with clients to explore new ways to capture key performance objectives, build habit-forming products, and improve digital product ROIs.

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