10 Ways to Success …Contract Recruiting

by JUDITH L. ENNS, Ph.D., Managing Director
HR SOLUTIONS • judyenns@hrsolutions.com

Through the management of many contract recruiting assignments and recruiters, I have learned that a number of factors contribute to positive recruiting results for companies employing contract recruiters, the absence of which almost certainly concludes in unsuccessful recruiting assignments.

Further-more, close collaboration between contract recruiters and their end-user hiring managers to custom/processes, even those which have been finely honed by the company’s employment group, is a requirement for successfully attracting and securing talented individuals in an opportunity-rich hiring environment.

The 10 critical success factors outlined here are the road map for effectively utilizing contract recruiters to do the job for which they are engaged. The company with the best people wins. Contract recruiters can help you win the talent war if they are managed well and if communication flows freely.

Factor #1: With the contractor write clear expectations and timelines.

Expectations about
(1) the number of jobs to be filled realistically,
(2) in what time frame,
(3) in what priority,
(4) following and reporting on what recruiting metrics,
(5) with what amount and medium of communication between recruiter, manager and human resources,
(6) the “go to” person for resources and problem solving,
(7) the number/location of job fairs, web sites to use, travel, expense reporting, and
(8) the handoff when the assignment is concluded – must be agreed upon and memorialized before work begins.

Clarification of these issues in writing becomes the scope of work agreement toward which contract recruiters can work, and is the document by which managers can assess their progress.

Factor #2: Provide current, useful position descriptions to contract recruiters.

Along with contract recruiters and hiring managers review all open position descriptions. Before recruiters review resumes or make screening calls, confirm that the descriptions are, in fact, the real and urgent positions to be filled. Recruiters need to work on real openings to satisfy moving target deadlines and product roll-out dates. If descriptions must be created, ask contract recruiters to assist with that project first. Contractors who source, recruit, screen and interview blind spend your time and money ineffectively.

Factor #3: Introduce your recruiting metrics to contractors, or if none exist, involve them in creating metrics.

Secure agreement from contractors on the specific measures, and the frequency, manner and format of report on recruiting activities. Contract recruiters should know what information is most important to you and to any other manager/stakeholder involved.

Some basic metrics are:
(1) number of ads web postings, association and other postings per position;
(2) number of resumes reviewed from each source;
(3) number of cold calls made per position;
(4) number of employee referrals per position;
(5) number of telephone screens per position;
(6) number of interviews scheduled;
(7) number of interviews conducted;
(8) number of offers;
(9) number of rejections;
(10) number of acceptances and starts;
(11) time from initiation of a position requisition to new hire start date.

The data can be captured and reported in simple spreadsheet format, at the very least.

Factor #4: Provide contract recruiters with the tools and resources they need.

Be sure a computer, email, a voice mailbox, web posting capabilities, approval to use websites, space to interview, telephone lists, an organization chart, recruiting marketing materials, a desk, are all available to recruiters so they hit the ground running.

Facilitate introductions to hiring managers, and suggest each manager spend enough time with a recruiter to enable him or her to fully understand how positions to be filled fit in the department or project group.

Factor #5: Schedule time to meet with recruiters face to face weekly, initially, then agree on frequency thereafter.

Contractors need to be on site meeting with hiring managers and the human resources contact as often as need be to close openings. Although many recruiters are fully functional and effective from their home offices, planned time on site with internal clients for updates, sourcing ideas and brainstorming is necessary to keep activities on track. Email, voice mail and fax work for information exchange, but priority setting, problem solving and course corrections must be done face to face. Since managers are extraordinarily busy, selling the need for these meetings to them is critical to recruiter success.

Factor #6: Provide feedback to contract recruiters and solicit their ideas.

Contract recruiters will typically solicit “how am I doing?” feedback and appreciate knowing what or what not to alter.

Tell them what they should continue doing and what to change. Ask the same of hiring managers and relate their feedback to contractors, too. Before going too far down the recruiting assignment road review measurement data so that you and recruiters can quantify both efforts and successes.

In addition, solicit recruiting, interviewing, selection and hiring ideas from them. Many recruiters have supported a wide range of organizations in size, type, complexity and hiring volume, so they do have valuable experiences in what works best to attract and hire top talent.

Factor #7: Ask recruiters where they may need help.

If you have asked a contractor to do an informal compensation survey, for example, and then discover that the contractor has never done market research before, provide help directly, or offer the assistance of other human resource professionals. A contractor can more than likely do the job, but may need some specific direction in an area not part of his or her skill set and experience.

Factor #8: Expect questions from contractors.

Contractors do not know all about your business so you should get good questions about positions to be filled, business units, company goals, culture, managerial style, etc. so that recruiters are fully armed to answer questions from candidates.

Factor #9: Be sure contract recruiters do the jobs for which they were hired.

You can expect contract recruiters to be the solution to your recruiting challenge. You may see other projects and needs for which they might be helpful, but they could be distracted from their central focus, which is to reduce the number of openings you have. Try to shield contractors from politics and intrigue, and watch to see that they avoid participating in corporate drama.

Factor #10: As far as is possible, sweep away hurdles, hassles and barriers to recruiting progress.

Any unusual, unexpected interruptions to recruiting, constraints to success, or limitations on progress, should be discussed swiftly with contract recruiters. They understand organizational change and abrupt turns in direction. As contractors they typically know how to flex and dodge. Communication among all invested parties with new plans of action will usually keep everyone on track.

Although no formal guarantee accompanies these 10 critical success factors, my experience over the years indicates these 10 elements, if implemented and managed, contribute powerfully to contract recruiter effectiveness.