Can a Search Firm Actually Save You Money?


As a hiring authority for your organization have you run into situations where you have a difficult position to fill and not sure where to turn? Is your first reaction to using a search firm a resounding “NO!”? Do you automatically assume you just cannot afford the fee necessary to contract a good search service?


Almost all organizations have some funds built into the budget for recruiting, but few take the time to determine the real costs of attempting to recruit on their own. In fact, many decide without investigating that it would be too much, spend time (sometimes many months) searching, come up with no viable candidates, then ‘biting the bullet’ and ultimately using a search firm anyway. So the real cost to them is time/effort lost, plus the search fee.


Let’s look at some of the differences between Company A who doesn’t want to use a search firm and Company B who does use search firms for those important and/or difficult to fill positions.


Human Resources –

Company A says, “That is what our HR department is for!”

Company B says, “Our HR department is too busy to handle the difficult searches. They already have their hands full with routine recruitment and keeping up with compliance issues, let alone just the day to day employee issues like vacations, complaints, benefits, family leave, etc.”


Advertising –

Company A says, “We get hundreds of resumes when we advertise – we’ll find someone.”

Company B says, “I can’t afford to have so much of my staff side-tracked looking through resumes, calling candidates, trying to qualify people – often some of the staff isn’t absolutely clear about what to look for.”


Networking –

Company A says, “We have a great networking group here, we belong to lots of organizations, so we are bound to come up with some candidates.”

Company B says, “We have already put the word out to our network and we haven’t had any bites. I think many good candidates prefer to work through a recruiter on a confidential basis so as not to jeopardize their current position. Also they use recruiters to get more details about a position before they even decide if they are interested.”


Interviewing –

Company A says, “Our senior staff interview people all the time – we have at least one of these positions every six months or so.”

Company B says, “Interviewing people a few times a year just doesn’t give senior staff enough experience for in-depth interviews as professional recruiters, who do it everyday for a living – plus when you do it that much, for many years, you gain better instincts and insight about a person’s real qualifications.”


Checking credentials, degrees, etc. –

Company A says, “Of course we check credentials and degrees, but I admit sometimes that takes too long, so we have to make a decision without it.”

Company B says, “I can’t pull part of my staff off to try and chase down candidates’ credentials/degrees. Recruiting firms are set up for that and have the staff and resources to get that information when we need it.”


Finally, it is good to break down the search process to actual costs, if an organization does it on their own. Just use the last search done in your organization without a search firm. Make a list of every single person who ‘touched’ the search process in your firm, figure their hourly pay, then multiply that times the hourly rate and add up all those hourly wages. Be sure to include any advertising costs (including those who put together the advertising and speak to or send to all advertisers), those staff that take time to go through the resumes, call/screen people, set up candidates with all who interview including officers, for ALL candidates, ALL interviews, those handling travel/ hotels if needed and those that check credentials/degrees, references, etc. Then include the time which all of that staff took away from their primary jobs, because that costs money too – it has to be made up somewhere. It is disruptive; it happens sporadically and only when there is a staffing need. Search is, simply put, what a search firm does as a business and can streamline the process down to just a few of the last steps in the process.


Do you think it makes sense to use a professional recruiter, just as you would use a professional attorney or professional accountant because it actually could save you money?


Ronni Anderson is a VP of Business Development at Morgan Consulting Resources, a healthcare executive search firm celebrating over 20 successful years in business.



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