COACH Mike - I want to hire a recruiter?

  By Michael Gionta  |    Monday June 8, 2020

Category: Columns


QUESTION: Hey Mike, I want to hire. I have heard you talk about different roles you can hire recruiters in. I am a solo now. Who should be my first hire?  - Josephine

ANSWER: A prescription without a diagnosis is malpractice. The answer is, in a real generic sense, if you at $200,000 or more in individual billings as a solo operator, my first hire would be a Search Associate. If you are not at that revenue level yet, I would get to there before I hired. Once I got to a run rate of $200,000 a year, $15,000 to $18,000 a month, then I would make my first hire. 

A Search Associate is someone you train to source on your openings. When I have taught this before, people say to me, but I do not want to have them work with my clients because they are new, and they are probably terrible. Not probably, they are terrible when they are new. When you bring them on, I find what I call scratch and dent openings.” Scratch and dent openings are nonexclusive contingency assignments that you are not accountable for, but you also have access to the hiring manager for. 

Let me say a little bit more on that concept of scratch and dent openings. I used to keep a list of hiring managers that I liked working with but maybe they only paid 15%, 18%, or 20%, they had longer guarantee periods than I was comfortable with. There was some flaw in the arrangement which is why I would not work it. 

When I knew that I had a new recruiter starting, I would call a few of these contacts and I would say, “Hey, Hiring Manager, you and I have talked in the past. I know your hands are tied with this fee, but I have a great proposal if you need some help. One, I will work on those terms and here is why. I have got a new recruiter starting in a week and I need to give him something to work on. What I am going to do for you is I am going to create a list of 60 to 70 people through our research team, through our database, and I am going to have him scour those people. I am going to have him go through that list seven times over three weeks and you will get, in effect, retained level service on your terms. Now, what I can promise you is quality, I cannot promise you quantity. This new recruiter might not even make it three weeks. They are going to be learning the business. The reason I can promise you quality is the people this individual researches, I will personally assess myself and then present to you. In addition to your crappy 15% fee – I would say that with a smile on my face – your fee is a 24-hour turnaround on the phone with me. The main reason is you do not have to interview everyone I send to you. I just want to know what was off, what did you like, what did you not like, and then can we manage the process with you. The second primary reason for that is I want to give my new hire feedback. I want them to start to see that if they start surfacing really good talent, we can get the person interviewed, and they can start to feel a little bit successful.” 

Prospects whose hands are tied love that arrangement, by the way. We actually converted quite a few of those over the years to become retained clients because once I went in there with a new person, they would call up a few months later and say, hey, can I have Joe, the new recruiter, work on that? No. Joe is good now. Joe is working on my good stuff. Thank you for helping me train him. 

The good news is with positions like that, Josephine, you are not accountable to a client. You have said, I cannot guarantee a quantity. I can guarantee you quality. From a branding perspective, you are still saying, this is beneath me to work on, but I have a win-win possibility. I am going to use this as kind of a training ground for this individual. What is going to happen every once in a while, is you are going to make placements on those, so in effect, you have completely funded that first 30 days when they are cutting their teeth. 

Generally, you can start putting them on workable assignments on your desk, things where your reputation is on the line in less than two months. It really depends on how you ramp them up.  That would be my first hire, a Search Associate. 

Thank you so much for that question. 

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