Job Recruiters: Pros and Cons

Should you recruit on your own or use the help of a search firm?

You have a hole on your farm team and you need to find the right person to fill the position. Let's assume you have taken time to define the new hire's role, determine what type of inherent traits they need to possess and the personality type that will fit within your organization.

Now, you just have to find this all-star you have created on paper.

You could fill the position internally, which means you will post, search and screen candidates on your own. Another option is hiring an outside search firm to help you find candidates. Let's explore the pros and cons to each approach.

If you are going to recruit in-house, I have three suggestions:

*Post on a few job boards such as CareerBuilder, AgCareers, etc. which means you are paying to place your job posting on their sites and candidates will apply to your positions.

*Pay for access to the job board's resume database. The database is filled with resumes of individuals who have posted their background information for companies to view, but may not be actively looking on a daily basis, which means they might not have seen your posting. Sometimes you get access when you purchase a posting. Take advantage of the opportunity as you don't want to miss passively looking individuals who are currently working, semi-satisfied, but willing to consider other opportunities.

*Be creative in approaching people in your network and discuss your opening to see who they know. You could try your seed sales guy, your extension office, neighbors, etc.

There are several pros to internal recruiting. It is extremely cost effective.  It only costs you the price for postings and your time. You understand your business better than anyone and you will know who will fit your organization the best.

When you are looking at resumes you may figure out that an individual from another industry might fit, given the right skills. An outside recruiter might miss those candidates because they don't fully understand your farm.  You might also find other potential hires that you weren't originally even looking for.

One of the largest cons would be your time. If you are in the middle of a busy season or in the middle of an expansion, you just might not have the time to recruit even if you wanted to. Also, if you know you struggle in screening candidates, that might be your push to use an outside expert.

Search firm strategies

In using a search firm, each one has a different type of contract that you would sign prior to starting. Read over the contract carefully and fully understand what their fees cover. Typically, you are signing up to pay a percentage of your new hires' first year salary.

The firm will post, search, screen and submit to you candidates they feel are qualified for your review. You decide which ones to interview and ultimately select for the hire.

The pro to outside recruiters is they do this every day, and they are able to screen and pull candidates fairly quickly and if they are good, they have plenty of practice screening out unfit candidates. The biggest con is the cost: the typically fee is 20-30% of the new hire's first year salary!  For a $45,000 position that would be $9,000-$13,500! That is significant considering a posting costs $300-400.

Not all recruitment firms are the same. Some are great and some not so great. For those costs, you better get a great recruiter and they better provide you with an A-player. Sometimes they can "push" candidates that they think are a fit. You are paying, so be extremely picky; if the first round of candidates are not what you want, they need to restart the search over for you.

I can't ultimately tell you which to choose. In either case, it takes time and effort on your part to have a successful hire. If you select using a recruiter you need to spend time screening the firm and understand their expertise to determine if they are a fit. If you hire on your own, interview more candidates than you think you need and screen vigorously to ensure you have the right hire. 

If you have a position you are struggling with, feel free to reach out to me and let's discuss a good strategy that will work for you.

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