Chat with us, powered by LiveChat The Best Independent Recruiters | Hiring and Talent Acquisition

What the Best Independent Recruiters Can Do for Talent Acquisition

by | Jun 21, 2022 | Top Echelon Blog

When an employer uses recruiters, it typically uses one of two types: internal recruiters (corporate or HR) and independent recruiters. And the purpose of this blog post is not to pontificate upon the differences between these two types of recruiters, and it’s definitely not to decide which group is better. We’ll let you decide that all on your own.

However, we can refer to the rules of use. When the economy is good and job candidates are difficult to find, then employers often use independent recruiters. (By the way, these recruiters are also called “search consultants” or “headhunters.” Although you’d be hard pressed to find somebody who prefers to be called an “independent headhunter.”) During the past several months, the economy has been good and job candidates have been difficult to find. Thus, independent recruiters and search consultants have been “in heavy rotation.”

But what about when the economy is NOT good? Well, the Great Recession was a prime example of that. As you might imagine, companies use internal recruiters more in such a case. You know how the scenario usually plays out. Somebody at the company snaps their fingers and says, “Hey! We could save money by not paying all of these recruiting fees. Let’s just hire an internal recruiter, pay them a set salary, and be done with it.”

Fair enough. However, independent recruiters do provide tremendous value. That’s because hiring the right people is critical to a company’s success. After all, anybody can just hire people, all willy-nilly. The important part is to hire the right people. That’s what makes you as an organization . . . or breaks you.

Independent recruiters = MORE revenue

The value that independent recruiters provide is tied to revenue. Simply put, they can help companies receive a return on their investment in personnel. Even when you factor in the recruiting fee.

In order to excel and seize market share from the competition, companies must fill their critical positions with the best candidates in the marketplace in the shortest amount of time possible. As you can see, there are three components in this equation:

  1. The position
  2. The job candidate
  3. The time frame

In addition, there is a dollar amount tied to each of these components. We can describe this relationship as follows:

The position is most likely a critical one because it helps to generate a tremendous amount of revenue and/or profit on a year-over-year basis. If it didn’t, then it probably wouldn’t be deemed as “critical.”
If the best job candidate possible is hired to fill this critical position, then the talent and experience that the candidate brings will help generate even MORE revenue and/or profit for the company.

The longer the position stays open—and more importantly, the longer it stays open without being filled with the best candidate possible—the more money the company loses.

This is where independent recruiters enter the picture. They can do a tremendous amount for an organization’s talent acquisition efforts. In fact, below are five forms of specific value that they offer during the recruiting and hiring process:

#1—They know the identity of the best candidates in the market.

Independent recruiters “work in the trenches” of the employment marketplace on a daily basis. They talk with scores of candidates every day and hundreds every week. They’re constantly looking at resumes.

And that doesn’t even count all of the A-level passive candidates they have in their recruiting database. After all, you can’t hire the best candidates if you don’t even know who the best candidates are in the first place.

#2—They know what motivates top candidates.

Independent recruiters don’t just know the identity of these candidates, but they also know what motivates them, as well. And when we say “motivate,” we mean what would convince them to make a move for another employment opportunity.

That’s because independent recruiters ask top candidates what opportunity would convince them to make a move. Then, when such an opportunity comes across their desk, they call that candidate immediately. “Remember that opportunity we talked about? Well, guess what?”

#3—They can help keep candidates engaged during the hiring process.

Let’s face it: top candidates can lose interest quickly if an organization does not properly engage them. Remember, they’re not desperate for a new job. Their current employer is more than likely treating them quite well. They would probably be content to just stay where they are.

Enter an independent headhunter, who realizes all of this and takes the proper steps to ensure that the candidate is engaged. These steps include communicating with the candidate on a consistent basis, letting the candidate know where they stand in the process, and what the next steps in the process will be.

#4—They’re able to “close” the candidate more effectively.

The negotiation phase is an extremely important and sensitive part of the hiring process. This is where employers can lose top talent if they’re not careful, especially in a candidates’ market like the one we’re currently enjoying.

One of the mistakes that employers make is the habit of trying to low-ball the candidate when making an offer. An independent headhunter can draw upon their experience in such situations to advise the hiring manager that they should not do that. They will instead suggest negotiation strategies that will likely meet with more success.

#5—They can help fill the position more quickly.

This is where the “rubber meets the road,” is it not? That’s because it’s not enough to fill a high-level, critical position with a great candidate. It’s better to fill a high-level, critical position with a great candidate quickly.

The reason is simple: the longer that such a position remains open, the more the employer loses in terms of productivity and profitability. A good rule of thumb is this: the more important the position, the more quickly it should be filled.

So—unless those internal recruiters are able to (consistently) hire the best candidates in the marketplace for their organization’s most critical positions in the shortest amount of time possible, then those companies are losing money. NOT saving it.

And that is why companies often use independent recruiters to carry out their staffing plan.

How to become an independent recruiter

There are a couple of different ways to become an independent recruiter. And no, one of them is not by going to college. You can’t go to your local university and major in “Independent Recruiting.” Nobody offers that degree, but you don’t need them to. There are two main scenarios that usually play out when people decide to pursue this career path:

  1. They’re doing something else as a profession and decide they want to become an independent recruiter.
  2. They’re already working for an agency as a search consultant or headhunter.

This is where the “independent” part of independent recruiter is critical. That’s because it embodies the true spirit of independence. You’re on your own. You’re working for yourself as a business owner. This situation brings with it both pros and cons. We could write an entire blog post on this topic alone, but let’s not do that right now.

Instead, let’s talk about the fact there is conceivably a difference between a third-party recruiter and an independent recruiter. Both are search consultants or headhunters. However, a search consultant who works for a recruiting agency is not necessarily an independent recruiter. That’s because they don’t work for themselves. They work for the agency.

The agency owner, on the other hand, is an independent headhunter. This is regardless of whether or not they still “work a desk.” Some agency owners work a desk and some do not. Who they do work for, though, is themselves. They don’t answer to anybody else . . . expect maybe their spouse and the Internal Revenue Service.

Some independent recruiters (or agency owners) start out working for another agency. Then, after building up some business and gaining experience, they strike out on their own. When they do, they’re usually the only person working for the agency, at least in the beginning. That makes them truly independent, because they’re doing absolutely everything. This includes the marketing, the accounting, and even making the coffee in the morning.

In the first scenario mentioned above, a person would go straight from another profession to being the owner of a recruiting agency. They skip the step of working for a recruiting agency first. They pass “Go” and they collect $200. This scenario occurs more often than you might think.

Independent recruiters, search consultants, and agency owners

However, having said all of that, some people refer to all third-party recruiters, agency recruiters, and headhunters as independent recruiters. Within this context, any recruiter who is not an internal, corporate, or HR recruiter is, by default, an independent recruiter. Since this is the case, when somebody refers to an independent recruiter out in the world (including on the Internet), they could be referring to an agency owner or a search consultant who does not own their own agency. Now that we’ve explained all of that . . .

In terms of how to become a recruiter—and in this case, we mean a search consultant who works for an agency OR one who owns the agency—there are six main steps:

  1. Earn a college degree of any kind (recommended, but not necessary).
  2. Acquire and/or possess recruiter skills.
  3. Get relevant work experience.
  4. Obtain certifications.
  5. Go through recruitment training.
  6. Apply to recruitment positions.

When you’re a search consultant, you can also be an executive recruiter. This type of recruiter primarily recruits and places people at the executive level. You can be a search consultant who only places executives. On the other hand, you can also be a headhunter who fills both executive and non-executive positions. In the latter instance, you can still refer to yourself as an executive recruiter.

You might be an executive recruiter, but are you also an independent recruiter? The answer is “Yes” if you happen to be an executive recruiter who owns his or her own agency. (Or if you’re a third-party recruiter working for an agency, if we use the “expanded definition.”) That brings us to the topic of how to start a recruitment agency. Because if you want to be a truly independent headhunter, then you should be an agency owner. In the technical sense of the phrase, anyway . . .

And since we’ve stopped at this particular roadside rest, here are 15 steps for starting your own recruitment agency:

  1. Determine if recruiting fits your personality.
  2. Examine your recruiting (and business) experience.
  3. Strengthen your recruiting (and business) skills.
  4. Determine the services you’ll provide.
  5. Identify both your industry and niche.
  6. Assess the competition.
  7. Calculate start-up costs.
  8. Select a physical location for your recruiting business.
  9. Select a geographic area for your services.
  10. Research applicable laws and regulations.
  11. Research available tools.
  12. Create a business model.
  13. Create a marketing plan.
  14. Assemble corresponding marketing materials.
  15. Hire staff (if you plan to have staff).

So if you want to become an independent recruiter, you can become a third-party recruiter working for another agency first and then become an agency owner. Or you can simply quit your job one day and start your independent recruiting agency the next. Presto!

Independent job recruiter vs. independent candidate recruiter

Some independent recruiters pool their resources by joining a recruiting network. As part of their membership, these recruiters share both job orders and candidates for the purpose of making split placements. And when we way split placements, that means they split the recruiting fee for placing the candidate.

In a recruiter network, either an independent recruiter has the job order (or search assignment) or the job candidate. This makes sense, since each recruiter has one or the other in a split placement situation. However, some recruiters only deal with one side in terms of their network membership. In other words, they always supply the candidate or they always supply the job order. Thus, you have the terms independent job recruiter and independent candidate recruiter. And of course, there are recruiters who supply both as part of their membership in a split recruiting network.

Top Echelon Network is an elite network of highly specialized search firms and the leading split placement network of recruiters. Since 1988, we’ve been helping independent recruiters share their resources, experience, and expertise to make more placements. Top Echelon started its recruiting network in March of 1988, meaning that we’ve helped recruiters generate more revenue for their recruiting desk and their agency for decades.

In Top Echelon, an independent job recruiter is known as an “importer.” That’s because they “import” candidates from other Network members for their search assignments. On the other hand, an independent candidate recruiter is known as an “exporter.” That’s because they “export” candidates to other Network members for their job orders.

Top Echelon Network has recruiters operating in just about every industry and discipline. We encourage you to learn more about our network. You can also apply for recruiting network membership in Top Echelon.

Independent recruiters and their ATS

In addition to membership in a recruiting network, independent recruiters also need an applicant tracking software. One of the most valuable commodities that a search consultant owns is their recruiting database. That’s because their database is where they keep their important information, including job candidate information and resumes.

Recruiting is a “game of inches.” Or perhaps more accurately, it’s a “game of seconds.” The recruiter who can find the best candidate in the shortest amount of time usually wins. As a result, being able to find the information that you want when you need to have it is crucial for independent recruiters. Top Echelon offers a leading recruiting software and ATS that is simple to use, but yet powerful in terms of its features, functionality, and versatility.

If you’re an independent recruiter AND an agency owner, we invite you to see what Top Echelon Software can do for you. Specifically, you can request a recruiting software demo of Top Echelon’s applicant tracking system. In addition, you can get free recruitment software for 15 days as part of your Top Echelon trial.

The best part? Top Echelon’s applicant tracking software integrates seamlessly with membership in Top Echelon’s recruiting network. Win-win! So don’t forget to check out our recruitment software pricing structure and see how much money you could be saving!

Independent recruiters provide tremendous value to talent acquisition. And we at Top Echelon provide tremendous value to independent recruiters. See today how we can help you!

More Articles of Interest