Ryan Modica, Managing Partner

As a front-line recruiter, I talk to as many as 10 to 15 new clients a week to discuss my service offerings.  I’ve tracked the responses from these calls and the number one question companies ask is “What’s your fee?”

It’s not surprising that cost is the number one question when qualifying a service.  What I have found interesting is that more than 50 percent of contacts only ask the one question, “What’s your fee?” and then make their decision based on the fee percentage alone (which doesn’t even represent the total cost of the project).

There is so much more to look for when it comes to finding the right recruitment or staffing agency.  With more than 10 years experience in the recruiting industry, I decided to put together a list of the questions I would ask if I were looking for a contingent recruiter.

What is your process?

First off, it’s very important that they actually have a process.  Without a defined process, they’re really just hoping to get lucky.  A recruiter’s process should involve connecting with candidates and truly getting to know them to see if they fit with the culture of your company.  In the end, their process should create value beyond what you could do on your own.

What resources will you use to find candidates?

Cut-rate firms may agree to a lower fee because they don’t spend money on multiple resources. My suggestion is to find a firm that invests in all the sources available and has a large database of exclusive candidates. You will find in most cases you’ll get what you pay for.

What expertise do you have in my field?

Ask the recruiter to legitimize their knowledge of the market that you seek to penetrate. At Alliance, we hire recruiters that have worked directly in their specialized field. For example, I personally worked in manufacturing and distribution companies prior to getting into the recruiting field. Those experiences allow me to better understand my client’s needs.  

How can you ensure success?

We are dealing with people here, so perfection is hard to come by but there are a few things you should look for in a successful recruiter or firm.

  1. Time is Money. Firms that have strong project management skills will save you time and help you compete for top talent. Ask the firm what expertise they have in managing projects.
  2. Hustle. Is your firm going to put priority on your search? When will they begin recruiting for your position and when will they be able to present qualified candidates to you?
  3. Communication. Many firms take on assignments and are never heard from again. Ask the firm how they plan to communicate their progress.

Alliance Search Solutions invests a tremendous amount of capital into our database and human resources.  We’ve spent millions in technology and we focus on hiring professionals with expertise in their field of recruitment.  Alliance has invested in me personally in the last year by helping me gain my Lean Project Management Certification as well as sending me to China to visit clients.  

Project management triangle – Pick any two: good, fast and cheapA quick note on fee percentages: The standard fee for contingency recruiting firms is between 25-33%. Cut-rate firms willing to take 15-20% have already admitted that they are not strong negotiators by agreeing to a fee below the market value. Their lack of negotiation skills could cost you in the salary negotiation with the candidate. The placement fee is a onetime cost, but year after year you could be paying an extra 5-10k in salary to your new hire.

When it comes to qualifying a recruiting firm, you have a choice to make. Do you want the service to be cheap, good quality or delivered fastUnfortunately, you can only pick two because good service is not cheap and cheap service is not good.