Recruiting Recruiters: 5 rules to get the best talent for your staffing firm

Staffing firms are the workforce's resident experts on identifying the best candidates and finding a workplace that will suit their strengths and help them grow. But finding the best candidates to find the best candidates? That's a tall order. 

If you're trying to source top talent for your staffing firm, it might help to get back to the basics. Read on for our five tips for finding the best recruiters to hire.

Don't forget about HR

You're probably looking for an experienced recruiter who has a background in staffing and hiring. Remember that human resources (HR) professionals can be qualified to source and interview talented candidates, too. Most even have recruiting responsibilities in their job description. In CareerBuilder's latest Supply & Demand Report, we found that a majority of recruiting candidates had the title "recruiter" on their resumes and social media profiles, but HR titles followed closely behind. Namely, the following titles appeared in candidates' backgrounds:

  • HR manager
  • HR director
  • HR generalist
  • HR assistant

Don't limit your candidate pool by expecting the title "recruiter" to appear in a candidate's work history. HR specialists who understand how to construct a fair offer, perform market research, and attract top talent could make valuable employees for your staffing firm. Those who've worked in corporate environments might also understand what your clients are looking for in candidates.

Ask good questions; get good answers

Once you've identified some promising candidates, it's important that you know how to test their skills in the interview. Think about your expectations. What metrics — such as offer acceptance rate (OAR) and time to fill — matter most to your team? Which soft skills and character traits define your team? What approach do you take when working with hiring managers? Knowing what your firm prioritizes might help you find somebody who embodies your values and meets your goals.

"Knowing what your firm prioritizes might help you find somebody who embodies your values and meets your goals."

Here are some interview questions you might consider asking:

  • Tell me about a successful placement.
  • What tools do you use to source talent?
  • Describe a time when you had to manage a hiring manager's expectations.
  • Discuss a time when you failed to find the right candidate.
  • What's your average acceptance rate?
  • How do you respond when a candidate is late for an interview?
  • What's your process for interview coaching?
  • What are your favorite industries to recruit for?

Look for the churn

When you're looking for talent, it's important to see where the candidate is coming from. We mean literally. Study the applications you receive to learn what companies candidates are leaving and what that might indicate about their skills. For example, former military recruiters likely performed extensive paperwork to evaluate candidates and prepare them for enlistment, including reviewing psychological evaluations and medical histories. This skill might be transferrable to industries that require extensive certification, licensing, and background checking.

It's also worth considering why these candidates are seeking new positions. Consider what your firm can offer that their previous employers couldn't. Maybe you can provide personalized mentorship opportunities and a small-team environment that promotes career growth. This might be a welcome change for candidates coming from large firms. Know your competitive edge so you can attract recruiters seeking a different experience for their next gig.

Give the people what they want

Staffing firms know what a top-notch offer looks like. If you want to seal the deal with your first choices, your offer has to be competitive. The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that jobs for human resource specialists, including recruiters, are growing faster than average. That means candidates could have a lot of job openings to pick from. Essentially, you've got competition.

There are, of course, the basics, like salary. The national median compensation for recruiters is $62,306. But pay isn't the only factor that matters to employees. Forbes recently suggested that flexibility is key when it comes to attracting talent in 2022. We found that a sizable chunk of women in the workforce prefers to work from home. We also found that 69% of candidates for recruiting jobs are women. You can probably see where we're going with this. Remote capabilities might help you attract those candidates.

Degrees aren't everything

An impressive educational background can be attractive, but don't place too much emphasis on advanced degrees. Our research shows that most recruiters (55% to be exact) have a bachelor's degree. Master's degree holders make up 27.2% of candidates, while those with doctorate degrees are only 2.4% of the pool. Setting your sights on recruiters with adequate education could help you cast a wide-enough net.

The third-largest education level was high school graduates, who make up 10.7% of job-seeking recruiters. For context, high school graduates make up three times as much of the candidate pool as those with associate's degrees. Bachelor's degrees are a core requirement for many businesses, but opening yourself up to experienced recruiters with a high school degree could help you find great candidates that might slip through the cracks otherwise.

Staffing firms know staffing, and they need to find internal talent that does too. Hiring the best recruiters around can help you beat the competition in the wake of the Great Resignation. Follow these tips to help you build a team of recruiters who score quality candidates and manage client relationships with care.

More tips for staffing firms

Once you've secured the right talent, set yourself up for success with five ways staffing firms can win amid the great rehire.

Develop your team with five ways to be a more strategic recruiter in 2022.

Looking for someone who just gets what you're about? Learn how to hire for cultural fit.

Refine your approach by learning how to find and reach qualified candidates.




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