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When to partner with an external search consultant

Companies that employ the best talent have a significant competitive advantage over their peers. That doesn’t always mean you should spend the money on an external recruiter, however.


Hiring an external recruiter isn’t always the right move: in some cases, your internal team can be less expensive and yield good results. But there are certain circumstances in which cutting-edge companies cannot afford to underestimate the impact of their recruitment process on attracting top-tier talent. Hiring the best people can mean the difference between success and mediocrity. This guide will help you evaluate whether you should hire an external recruiter or use your internal team instead.


We recommend engaging with an external search firm when: 


You are hiring executives and other senior roles. Recruiting for executive or senior roles is substantially different from all other recruiting. Executives are used to interacting with polished executive search firms and are quick to judge when a recruiter reaches out with the wrong messaging. They are also often off-put by having internal, more junior recruiters reaching out rather than an individual from the C-suite or a professional executive search firm. The nuanced, white-glove approach executive recruiters bring to these crucial roles is often key to attracting top-tier executive talent and solidifying the company's leadership.


Diversity of thought is genuinely important to you. True diversity comes from a broader talent pool. When aiming to diversify your talent pipeline and bring in fresh perspectives, external recruiters offer a distinct advantage. Their ability to tap into networks beyond your immediate circle ensures a more diverse pool of candidates, bringing varied ideas, experiences, and backgrounds to enrich your organization.


Approaching employees at other companies. The best people aren't actively seeking jobs; they're being poached by recruiters. In most circumstances, it is a lot cleaner to employ a third party to approach employees from other companies and competitors. Having a non-company recruiter reach out to employees also appears more professional and more appealing to the candidate. 


You are hiring for high-stakes roles. For roles that can make or break a company's trajectory, companies should engage the best external recruiting firm they can find without hesitation. The risk associated with missing the mark on critical hires is too great compared to the marginal added cost of hiring a specialized external recruiting firm.


When the talent market is competitive. When the skillsets you’re looking for are in high demand and your competitors are trying to hire these people first, you may benefit greatly by having a 3rd party persistently approaching potential candidates about your opportunity. Their expertise in approaching employees at other companies, combined with a broad network, can be critical in securing top talent before competitors do.


You’d benefit from market intelligence. External recruiters with an industry focus will provide valuable insights into market conditions, compensation expectations, and how your employer brand is perceived. 


You’re hiring for a time-sensitive role. In time-sensitive roles where every day without a hire carries a high opportunity cost, external recruiters can expedite the process and drive organizational momentum.


Approaching employees at other companies. The best people aren't actively seeking jobs; they're being poached by recruiters. In most circumstances, it is a lot cleaner to employ a third party to approach employees from other companies and competitors. Having a non-company recruiter reach out to employees also appears more professional and more appealing to the candidate. 



There are situations where engaging an external recruiter may not be necessary. We recommend working with your internal team instead when: 

 

You can hire internally. Before spending time on an external search, check whether there is a qualified or developable internal candidate that could be promoted to this role.


You are hiring for junior roles. For junior hires, internships, low-stakes roles, and positions where a broad range of candidates could suffice, relying on internal resources may be more appropriate. 


The search conditions are not set up for success. Lack of internal alignment, where the team isn't fully on board with the hiring decision, and when time constraints threaten the quality of the process, are situations where external recruitment may not be advisable.


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