Perspective: You don’t need a recruiter — until you do

Perspective: You don’t need a recruiter — until you do


Most of us don’t go to the doctor when we have a cold. We use self-dose over the counter medicine, down some chicken soup and go to bed.

Or some variation of that. But if you had a compromised immune system, avoiding the doctor over a cold could mean death. It’s the same when we need to hire, minus the death.

Here are the five signs you can DIY your recruiting efforts and don’t need to hire a recruiter:

Time is on your side. Things are not crazy; no one’s hair is on fire. Nothing is going to go off the rails if this position is not filled for six months.

You’ve successfully hired for this position before. You know what success looks like and have a good hire to use as your hiring yardstick

The talent pool is full. There are lots of people with the skills you need and you know how to attract them

Done is better than perfect. This is not an “A” position, so an “okay” candidate will work out just fine.

You have no idea what you want. Sometimes we need to learn more about the market before we can clarify what the position needs to be successful. In that case, it can help to talk to lots of people and get different insights.

Of course, there are always those who love to break the rules. My own lovely husband walked on a broken pelvis for three days before visiting the doctor.

Something about his legs turning completely purple convinced him it might be worth his time to go to the hospital. And people do the same in hiring.

A friend of mine who is a surgeon needed to find a COO for his growing surgical center, a key position for several reasons.

It was going to involve not just cleaning up the mess the previous COO had made, but enacting a complete culture turnaround while also freeing my friend the owner from the managerial responsibilities that he hated.

Being a frugal person, this surgeon had previously hired the first COO on his own and the experience was brutal. When he was ready to hire the new COO, as luck would have it a recruiter called him and offered to do the search for half price.

The unvetted recruiter presented candidates at a low fee, but the COO that was hired ended up bankrupting the business. Extreme example, but a true one.

Here are the five signs you need to get a professional recruiter on your side:

You need rare skills. Job postings are only seen by those who are looking, usually no more than 25-33% of the labor pool. You have never filled the position before and/or you don’t know what to pay. A good recruiter should walk you through an in-depth process of determining exactly what results equal success and what skills and traits the right person must have to get to that success.

You don’t know what to pay. Your recruiter should know the market, what competitors are paying and where the experience level of candidate you need should be compensated. A really great recruiter will tell you when you are overpaying as well as be able to get you talent on a budget.

There’s no time. Your best performer just quit, your company picked up a huge project or you are getting to go out on an extended leave. You need this position filled yesterday and cannot wait around to collect a bunch of resumes for a month.

The saying goes “Hire slow, fire fast”, so when you can’t wait to act, get a professional’s opinion.

You can’t make a mistake. Especially if this is for a management role. Great bosses grow and retain “A” players, bad bosses run them away. Or if this position is key to accomplishing the company’s goals. If you need to crank out a new product, open a new market or completely revamp your business processes, you want to be able to tap into the best talent in the entire labor market.

You have to keep the position under wraps. You want to target your competition’s talent, but don’t want it to affect your reputation or start a bidding war for key players.

Or you are going to need to terminate someone but can’t until you have their position backfilled and don’t want to start WWIII by having the news get out.

A good recruiter will keep your company anonymous until there’s clear interest on both sides and an obvious benefit to the introduction.

Geoff Smart is considered the world’s foremost authority on hiring. His book “Who” offers some terrific insight on how to hire and recruit yourself and what to look for in a recruiter when and if you do need one.


Dixie Agostino is founder and CEO of Switchgear Recruiting