Are you working with a small business recruiter or headhunter who can provide the recruiting and staffing services your organization needs? How can you tell whether you have an excellent recruiting partner for your small business or need a new vendor?
If you work consistently with a headhunter or a recruiting firm, they should become familiar with your people, policies, and practices. As a result, they will develop a profile of the ideal employees for your organization. The right small business recruiter will know how to use this familiarity and knowledge to your benefit – they will understand your company culture and know how to leverage it in the recruiting process.
The wrong recruiter, however, will simply take a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn’t evolve along with your ever-changing needs. This article will help you identify whether the small business recruiter you’re working with is either good or bad for your staffing and hiring goals.
In the U.S. alone, there are about 25,000 recruiting and staffing agencies operating around 49,000 offices, according to the American Staffing Association (ASA). However, not all recruiting services are equal. What qualities or traits should you seek in a high-quality recruiting agency? We’ll dive into what to look for below.
Benefits of Working With a Small Business Recruiter
Understanding of business dynamics
Small businesses operate a lot differently than large corporations. Employees often wear many hats, and a single person can outsize the company’s culture due to the team’s small size. A small business recruiter understands these nuances and can ensure they’re considered in your search.
Enterprise-level organizations have entire teams dedicated to hiring. While it makes things move quickly, it’s also a trade-off for less personal service. When you work with a small business recruiter, you get a one-on-one relationship that facilitates a deep understanding of your needs and goals.
Local market knowledge
If your business relies on local talent, a big-name recruiter in New York or LA isn’t going to be very effective. A small business headhunter offers location-specific relationships and market insights that are an asset for local and regional businesses.
Access to niche talent
Competing with larger organizations for talent is hard for a small- or medium-sized business. This is especially true when you’re seeking hard-to-find skills or niche experience. A recruiter specializing in small businesses can help you locate these candidates and position your company in an appealing way for them to accept your offer.
Small business recruiters understand small businesses’ constraints and can help craft customized solutions that blend service and affordability.
Reduced administrative burden
Hiring involves many necessary but tedious tasks that take time away from operations. An SMB headhunter can manage activities like sourcing talent, screening resumes, scheduling interviews, checking references, and freeing up owners’ time for duties that contribute to business output.
Where to Find Small Business Recruiters
Tap your network for referrals
As a small business leader, you’ve undoubtedly built up a strong network of industry and community contacts. Now is the time to leverage that network and ask for referrals. The recommendation of a trusted friend or colleague is worth more than any guarantee a recruiter can provide.
Ask local business groups
Your community’s business organizations can be a great resource in connecting you with reliable recruiters and other professional services. Look to groups like your area’s Chamber of Commerce, Business Development Bureau, or Development Authority for referrals.
Search on LinkedIn
Most good recruiters are active on LinkedIn, which makes them easy to find. Use the platform’s search function to look up ‘small business recruiter + your city’ for a quick list of options, then browse their profiles to get a feel for each recruiter’s area of expertise and experience level.
Look at online reviews
Most well-established recruiting companies have a business listing on Google and at least a few reviews. Look for a firm with a strong track record of positive recommendations from clients.
How to Choose the Right Small Business Recruiter
1. Assess their trustworthiness, reliability, and accessibility
Entrusting the responsibility of qualifying and screening your company’s next executive, manager, or staff member to a third-party recruiter or headhunter is difficult. After all, you want to ensure your business is represented correctly and that you end up with only the best candidates. As such, make sure the recruiting agency or headhunter you choose is honest, reliable, and available when you need them.
To help you determine the quality of a prospective recruiter or headhunter, ask yourself the following:
- Do you have to chase information, or does the recruiting agency readily provide it?
- How quick are they to respond to your phone calls and emails?
- Do you feel good about them, or do you feel like they are hiding something?
- Are they consistent in both their communication and results?
- Are they willing to confirm and disclose all relevant information in writing?
- What is their online reputation?
2. They have access to a large pool of resources and candidates
Partnering with just any recruiting agency or headhunter isn’t going best to serve your organization’s or candidates’ needs.
When it comes to recruitment for businesses of all sizes, you need to be selective and choose a recruiting firm that:
Is well suited to staff your vertical and understands your industry;
- Understand the nuances of the role(s) you need to fill;
- Is equipped to handle your volume without sacrificing quality;
- Has a wide array of human and technology resources at its disposal; and
- Has access to an extensive network of prospective candidates.
- Whether you need a headhunter who can handle direct hire, contract, or contract-to-hire services, be sure to choose a recruiting agency that can adequately provide the particular services you require for your small business.
3. Recruiter demonstrates strong communication skills
Third-party recruiters and headhunters a reflection of the company they work for concerning reputation, standards, and the impressions they make. A transparent recruiting agency that continually employs excellent communication practices will be received more positively by candidates than a company that needs to be more responsive and leave them in the dark.
When assessing prospective recruiting firms for your small business, you’ll want to evaluate the following:
- The quality of their email, phone, and face-to-face etiquette;
- Their recruiting process when it comes to screening and interviewing candidates;
- Their plan for candidate communications is not only before and after an interview but once a candidate has been selected and hired;
- How well they listen and then communicate your needs externally and
- How well they present themselves on social media.
4. The small business recruiter follows proven practices
A solid structure and refined process are significant indicators of success in the recruiting and staffing world. You need a headhunter who is poised to deliver consistent and reliable results that can only be achieved by having solid and documented practices in place. When evaluating the recruiting agencies in your area, it’s vital to assess each company’s processes, values, and small business recruiting strategies. This way, you understand where they stand and how they align with your company’s vision, values, and strategies.
To determine the quality of your recruiter’s processes, you’ll need to understand:
- How they train new recruiters;
- The steps involved in their recruiting process, with supporting documentation to include
- Sourcing methodology
- Candidate screening
- Reference checks
- Drug and background checking
- Communication policies and practices
- Their escalation path for problem resolution
Your recruiting firm should have thorough documentation for the above that they are willing to share and eager to do so upon request.
5. They can accommodate your unique and evolving needs
While the benefits of following strict procedures and best practices are clear, it’s also as important — if not more so — that a recruiting firm can be flexible when necessary. A recruiting agency or headhunter that can adjust course and adapt to your needs is critical to providing you with the best outcome from the recruiting process. Through our eighteen years of supporting businesses of all sizes, we’ve learned that exceptions often are the rule.
Here are a few things to consider when determining whether your small business recruiter offers the flexibility you need:
- Do you have access to the decision-maker within the recruiting firm?
- If not, can you receive a quick response to any and all questions that may arise?
- Are they willing to change contract terms to accommodate a specific situation?
- Are they able to adjust payroll or invoicing to meet your individual needs?
Now that we’ve identified several traits that a good recruiting firm or headhunter will possess let’s look at some signs that cause concern.
5 Signs You Found the Wrong Small Business Recruiter
1. Your small business recruiter is inaccessible
Staffing and recruiting is a 24×7 business, and you should expect timely access to the headhunter who supports your small business. Needs change and problems can arise on a moment’s notice, which means your recruiting firm or headhunter must be available to respond quickly and react accordingly.
Here are a few questions to consider when it comes to accessibility:
- Do you have a relationship with a primary point of contact?
- Can you always reach a live representative of the recruiting firm during business hours?
- Do you have access to your recruiter or headhunter’s mobile phone?
- Can you receive a timely response during nights and weekends?
If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then you likely aren’t receiving the level of support your small business deserves.
2. They have a negative online reputation
For better or worse, perception is reality – especially regarding online presence. While you shouldn’t be overly concerned by a few negative reviews, you should look for a trend when considering what others say about the headhunter or recruiting firm you’re working with. Google, Glassdoor, and Indeed are among the most popular sites that offer current and former employees an opportunity to share their feedback and experiences. A little smoke is OK, but where there’s a lot, you can safely assume there’s a fire.
3. Your small business recruiter has a difficult time explaining their process
The right recruiter or headhunter will eagerly explain their process and will likely even take you through the various steps in writing. The lack of a documented, refined process indicates that your recruiter will not be equipped to address your small business staffing needs.
Here are some questions to ask regarding the stages of the recruiting process:
- Describe your sourcing activities and tools.
- How, exactly, do you screen and qualify candidates?
- How do you document candidate communication?
- Describe your process for checking references.
- How do you handle drug and background screening?
4. The recruiter undervalues quality
In the not-so-distant past, it was a given that third-party recruiters and headhunters were expected to be thorough and diligent when qualifying candidates. While technology has increased efficiency in many recruiting areas, it has also introduced vendor management systems, which exist to automate much of the recruiting process.
However, the unfortunate (and surely unintended) byproduct of this automation is the creation of lousy recruiting habits among firms that embrace this way of doing business. Specifically, vendor management systems promote quantity and speed over quality, which is the last thing a small business needs regarding recruiting and staffing.
I can’t stress this enough: Drill down with your recruiter to find out what happens before a candidate’s resume is presented for your consideration. As referenced in point #3 above, if your recruiter hesitates when responding to this question, run away immediately!
5. They aren’t a partner in your success
Although we sometimes wish this wasn’t the case, recruiting firms and headhunters are a dime a dozen these days. There’s no reason to work with a recruiter unwilling to invest in you and your small business.
For this final example, I will leave you with a few subjective questions to ask yourself:
- Do you trust your recruiter?
- Do you like working with your recruiter?
- Can you rely on your recruiter?
No need to answer these out loud: You’ll know in your gut whether your recruiter or headhunter acts as a partner or just another vendor.
Partner With 4 Corner Resources for Your Small Business Recruiting Needs
At 4 Corner Resources, we understand that things come up and circumstances change. We view flexibility, reliability, and consistency among our most important traits — we strive to be as agile as possible for our clients and to make their lives easier by producing the right quality at the right time. Need to make a last-minute change to a contract or change directions on the fly? No problem. Just pick up the phone and give us a call.
To explore partnering with 4CR, contact our team of recruiting and staffing headhunters today.