My phone rings and caller ID tells me it’s a recruiting firm calling. I can’t be the only one rolling my eyes thinking, “would they just stop calling me!?”, right? I have a bias against using third parties to fill our open reqs for a number of reasons – fees, signal-to-noise-ratio and culture fit issues, chief among them – but they are necessary at times for our technical positions. Managed correctly (which my People Ops partner-in-crime does), they can absolutely lead to terrific hires. So let’s talk about how to use them efficiently.

Take the lead

Go into the process valuing your time. Every extra bit of energy you have to put into managing a recruiter or weeding through oodles of bad resumes is costing you some opportunity. If you invest heavily in selecting the right recruiter and getting them off on the right foot, it’ll save you time and credibility with your hiring managers in the end.

Talk to a number of firms, settle on a few you feel comfortable with, and invite them on site to get a sense of what the company is about and what the team is looking for. When companies are anything less than enthusiastic about visiting, cut them loose.

Laying the foundation

Define your arrangement, expectations, and any future opportunities that may be available to the recruiter if successful. Encourage recruiters to ask all the questions they need to confidently send over 3-5 candidates they feel fit your gig (our recruiter stresses to send candidates as they become available, not all at once). For each of the candidates you receive, provide crystal clear feedback about what you do and do not like so the recruiter can get an understanding of exactly what you are looking for.

Be okay with a trickle of candidates – you want quality; a stuffed inbox does nothing for you.

Good recruiters should start to hone in on what you want and act like an extension of your company if you give them the type of feedback you’d expect from hiring managers when you start to source for a role.

A word of warning

Be wary of recruiters who are less interested in your feedback than they are in selling you on a candidate (if it’s a good candidate, there are tons of companies out there who will want him or her). They are chasing a commision, not a long-term partnership. Cut loose those unable to adapt and meet your expectations. You know what it takes to be successful at your company. And, ultimately, it’s your credibility on the line.

What experience have you had with third party recruiters? Love ’em? Hate ’em? Share in the comments below!

About the author: Jane Jaxon is the HR Director of a high-growth tech company in Boston where she gets to focus on building a great workplace and scaling people operations. Jane’s favorite buzzwords of the trade are eNPS, talent density and (of course) people operations. She likes neither pina colada’s nor getting caught in the rain, but sure loves marathoning critically-acclaimed tv series, reading in the sun, plotting her fantasy football world domination and, lastly, keeping a stealthy social media presence. Find her on LinkedIn.

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