When is it time to bring in a professional recruiter?

Rikka Brandon - talent brand

Professional recruiter

A lot of lumber dealers shy away from the idea of hiring a professional recruiter, namely because of the cost involved (see below). But a professional recruiter can offer a number of advantages, including a vast network of potential candidates to pull from, that can ease the burden of a tough hire and get you back to your regular job. If you find yourself with a position that’s tough to fill or that has had high turnover due to poor hires, it might be time to call in the pros.

A few indicators:

1.   You need to get it right, right now. Crucial positions always seem to open up at the worst times—a management position mid-acquisition; an unexpected resignation of a core team leader; a sales rep’s departure in April. With a database of go-to recruits, a recruiter can help you pin- point potential qualified candidates faster as well as help ensure you’ve crafted a package that will make them want to say yes quickly.

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2.   Confidentiality. If you need to replace someone who is underperforming but want to keep them in place while you search, placing a want ad or LinkedIn post is less than ideal. Professionals can recruit quietly, and discreetly, in the background using their network.

3.   You don’t have time. You have more important things to be doing than searching the country for the perfect CFO or weeding through potential sales reps. A recruiter costs money—but they’ll save you wasted time and resources performing a task that’s not in your own job description.

4.   You’ve tried everything else. You’ve placed ads. You’ve networked. You’ve exhausted your contacts list. You’ve hired less-than-stellar candidates who didn’t last. A recruiter can bring relief via a fresh perspective, a new database of potential candidates, an outside eye on your benefits packages, and much more to help ensure you’re positioned well and attracting the right people.

Where to look for a professional recruiter:

The type of professional recruiter you need depends on the position.

•    Yard/hourly workers: Seek out a local temp staffing agency with a strong focus on light industrial roles.

•    Customer service: Look to a local temp staffing agency with strong admin experience (and candidate database).

•    Sales and management: Use an industry-specific recruiter or generalist firm with strong experience in the LBM or construction industries.

Sure, using outside help costs money. But a bad hire can cost a company 30% of that hire’s annual salary. Consider this: If we’re talking about a GM of a $15 million company, and you hire someone who will earn $200,000 with bonuses, your direct hire fee is likely to be about $50,000. But if that same GM increases net profitability by 1%, it will result in a three-times return on the search investment, $150,000, by hiring a better person.

You might experience similar sticker shock using a temp agency; but there are reasons many companies decide to pay the mark-up. A 50%-60% mark-up from pay rate to bill rate is not uncommon for an agency. For example: $15 pay rate + 50% mark-up = $22.50 bill rate per hour.

That extra $7.50 an hour covers what the agency of record, the temp agency, has to pay, including workers’ compensation, unemployment, social security/FICA, payroll management, and benefits. (This is similar to your own true cost per employee, which multiplies their pay rate by 1.3 to account for taxes, benefits, etc.) The fee also accounts for the costs of recruiting, hiring, and managing employees, screening applicants, interview time, skills testing, and termination and discipline headaches (a huge benefit to you if it’s a position with high turnover). It also allows you to “try before you buy,” a smaller commitment versus an immediate hire. In most cases, the time and cost savings brought by using a professional will net you a bit of ROI—and a lot of peace of mind.

Rikka Brandon is the founder and Chief Executive Recruiter of Building Gurus, a boutique executive search and consulting firm that works exclusively with building product manufacturers and distributors to find, hire, and retain top building products talent.

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