Many HR managers know the pressure that comes with unexpected attrition, leave of absence, or volatile hiring swings. The need to fill an open position urgently can quickly send the HR department into a tailspin. Often, the department has to divert resources to recruiting, neglecting other crucial core duties. A contract recruiter brings the experience and expertise needed to resolve hiring challenges quickly at a fraction of the cost of onboarding a permanent recruiter.
The Easy Parts of Hiring a Contract Recruiter
The good news is that you won’t have to struggle to find a good contract recruiter. Many seasoned professionals are choosing to go their own way for various reasons. Whether it’s building professional networks, freedom, or flexibility, the talent pool is jam-packed with highly competent and experienced contract recruiters.
Application tracking software such as JazzHR makes the collaborative process even easier. The software helps with the entire recruiting process, including candidate sourcing, offer letters, and automated onboarding.
JazzHR is the perfect tool if you’re bringing in a contractor. The software offers collaborative hiring features and doesn’t charge on a per-user payment plan. You get unlimited users on all its plans. The basic plan, Hero, costs just $39 per month. You can upgrade to the higher tiers to enjoy unlimited open jobs.
JazzHR offers a free 30-day trial if you’d like to try out the software before committing.
The Difficult Parts of Hiring a Contract Recruiter
The hardest part of this process may be deciding precisely what type of contract recruiter you need.
There are two types of contract recruiters. The line between a contract recruiter and a recruiting agency that specializes in contract hiring is often blurred.
A contract recruiter generally refers to an individual recruiter that you hire to work only for your business–as an independent contractor/freelancer. They are not full-time employees and are typically paid hourly wages with no benefits and have a contract term limit with the potential for extensions.
There are also contract recruiter agencies that match you with a contract recruiter that fits what your organization is looking for. These recruiters work as employees for the agency, and you are one of several accounts they manage and submit resumes to. Your company will have a contract or agreement with the agency as a whole and not the individual recruiter.
Step 1: Decide on the type of contract recruiter
It’s not always obvious which kind of contract recruiter is the better option for your needs. Here are three main factors to consider when making that choice:
Consider your budget
Hiring a recruitment agency will cost more. If you have simple hiring needs and a tight budget, a freelance recruiter might be the way to go. These recruiters often have a ready pool of potential candidates and a strong network of prospects to meet your hiring needs.
Consider the complexity of the position
One advantage of hiring a contract recruiting agency is the pool of recruiters at your disposal. When hiring for high-level positions, it may be worth paying extra. The agency can break down the recruitment process into parts and delegate the correct recruiter for each part of the hiring process. Having multiple recruiters working on your open positions, all with experience hiring for your industry, can be invaluable.
For example, the agency may designate a junior recruiter for the early part of the process, screening resumes for the right qualifications. Then, the junior recruiter may hand the resumes off to a more senior recruiter for interviews, and finally to the HR business partner for salary negotiation and offers.
Consider the scope of work
Your scope of work will ultimately lead you in the right direction when choosing between a freelancer and a recruitment agency. You may only need the contract recruiter to source and interview candidates before handing them off to your in-house hiring manager. In this case, an independent recruiter will fit the bill.
However, if you need multiple positions filled urgently and also require the recruiter to onboard new hires, it may be worth hiring an agency. Of course, you may be able to find a freelance recruiter to handle the entire process for entry-level, temporary, or contract positions. Remember, hiring a freelance recruiter may require you to interview and meet with several before choosing the one you wish to hire.
Agencies within your industry are typically easier to move forward with, and you can work with multiple agencies simultaneously–as you pay if they place a candidate with you. There is no upfront cost to hiring an agency, though their pricing is inevitably more expensive than a freelance recruiter.
Evaluate your scope of work against the recruiter’s skills and competency to figure out which is the better option for you right now.
Step 2: Decide the Attributes of the Contract Recruiter
One of the significant benefits of hiring a contract recruiter is the time it frees HR reps to perform their core duties. Recruiting and onboarding new hires can quickly turn into a full-time engagement. It would be unfortunate if HR were dragged into the hiring process that you outsourced for good reasons. To keep this from happening, hire a contract recruiter who has the skills to handle the entire job at hand competently.
A great place to start when determining a good fit is the recruiter’s knowledge of your industry. A recruiter specialized in your industry will already know where and how to recruit the candidates you are looking for. They’re also in touch with industry trends and can offer fresh insights into your hiring process.
You want a contract recruiter who is obsessive about metrics. It’s not just about how many employees the recruiter sources. Other details like how long the new hire stays, how well they fit into the organization, and job satisfaction is equally important. A recruiter who works with cold, hard numbers is someone you can count on to bring in suitable candidates.
A good contract recruiter should have demonstrable experience in your industry. Look for other organizations similar to yours that the recruiter has worked with. What was the success rate? What do previous clients have to say about the recruiter? If the contract recruiter has a positive track record, chances are they will meet your hiring needs.
Step 3: Conduct Interviews
There is only so much you can learn about contract recruiters on paper, so shortlist candidates for a face-to-face interview. In some cases, you might have to pay the recruiter whether or not the position is filled, specifically if you hire a freelancer. For this reason, you want to take special care to screen candidates, so you have the right person for the job.
For a recruiting agency, you can typically either skip this step altogether or choose to meet only with the main account manager you’ll be working with. With agencies, you are not paying an upfront fee, only when a candidate is actually working. For contractor positions, agencies get paid a markup on hourly wages.
When working with a recruiting agency, you will skip steps three through five. After you decide which agency to work with, you and the agency with review and sign a contract and will move directly into them working on your open positions. After signing a contract and giving them the open roles, move to step six.
But for independent contractors, you’ll definitely want to meet with the candidates and make sure they understand your industry, company, and needs.
There is crucial information you will should collect before interviewing contract recruiters. Prepare adequately to ensure that the interviews go smoothly. Some of the information you’ll need might include:
- A short description of what your company does
- The job title and description for the open positions
- The location of the job
- Skills, education, and experience requirements for the open positions
- Additional requirements such as medical or physical exams, background checks, or skills testing for open positions
- Salary range/hourly pay range for the recruiter
- Work hours and work schedule for the recruiter
This information includes what the recruiter needs to know to do the job and also gives them the information of what they can expect working in the recruiter role for your company.
Conduct the interview
Ask about their placement success rate. This single metric can tell you a lot about the recruiter’s competence. Ask about the candidates’ success rate, particularly in situations closely resembling yours. For example, you may hire because of rapid and unexpected growth. Find out if the recruiter has experienced a similar scenario and the outcome.
Other interview questions to ask include:
- What is your experience recruiting for this industry?
- What has been your most significant achievement in your career?
- How will you secure the organization’s confidential information?
- How do you ensure candidates aren’t bound to non-compete agreements?
- Have you encountered issues with conflict of interest? How did you resolve them?
- What is the contract like?
- How and what do you charge?
Non-disclosure and non-solicitation agreements
Non-disclosure and non-solicitation agreements are standard practices in contract recruiting. You need to make sure that confidential information doesn’t leak to other organizations or your competition. Come up with a comprehensive non-disclosure agreement and discuss it with your recruiter.
Similarly, a non-solicitation agreement means that the contract recruiter cannot poach your employees once you hire them. A contract recruiter refusing to sign any of these documents may be a red flag. Pick the candidate you think will fill your open positions with high-quality hires.
Step 4: Create a Statement of Work
Since your recruiter is working on a contract basis, it’s more important than ever that there is a clearly defined Statement of Work (SOW). This agreement helps to ensure that both parties meet their obligations. Additionally, a detailed scope of work increases the chances that the contract recruiter will meet your expectations.
Write down your most important objectives
Think about what you’d like the contract recruiter to achieve and put it down in writing. Possible recruitment objectives may include:
- Identifying X number of quality candidates per role
- Increasing retention rate
- Improving employee engagement
- Attracting and engaging top talent
- Sourcing diverse candidates
- Improving the quality of hires
- Streamlining the hiring process
- Building a strong employer brand
Think about previous challenges in your recruitment process and hand over the task to the contract recruiter. Chances are they have dealt with the same issues before. Be as specific as possible about your hiring objectives to make it easy for the recruiter to match your expectations.
Identify specific recruiting tasks
Your hiring objectives set the tone for the recruitment process, and specific recruiting tasks form the basis of your scope of work. Think through everything you wish the recruiter to accomplish on your behalf. Consider the number of open positions to be filled, the timeframe, and the priority for filling the positions.
Think through the scope of work early on in the process. It is not unheard of for recruiters to pick CVs at random to beat a close deadline. Also, some won’t even read the cover letters at all if they are pressed for time. Give your contract recruiter enough time to vet the candidates properly, and you’ll both be happy with the outcome.
Iron out reporting details
Contract recruiters work independently, but they still need your organization’s support to accomplish their objectives. Introduce the recruiter to their manager, the HR team, and other people they’ll be working with. Make it clear who the recruiter reports to and their goals.
Designate a go-to person the recruiter can approach to solve any problems, questions, or concerns. Ideally, this should be the same person that the recruiter will hand off to at the end of the contract.
Step 5: Set the Contract Recruiter Up for Success
Securing top talent hinges on a successful collaboration between the contract recruiter and your organization. There are a few things that you can do to make the recruiter’s job more manageable and leverage their expertise and experience to find the best candidates for your open positions.
Onboard the contract recruiter
You can rely on your typical onboarding process to seamlessly transition the recruiter to your organization. Start before the recruiter arrives by ensuring that they have all the tools they need to do their job. These tools include a desk, approvals to use websites, login permissions, a voice mailbox, email, access to your recruiting software, recruiting marketing materials, telephone lists, and space to interview. HR should be proactive in making sure that the recruiter hits the ground running.
Introduce the recruiter to essential personnel
Facilitate face-to-face meetings between the recruiter and the people they’ll be working with. Where possible, assign a hiring manager to help transition the recruiter. Chances are they will have many questions, and having a go-to person will make the transition easier. The meeting could be an informal breakfast or lunch where the contract recruiter can get to know the team.
Decide on meeting frequency
Contract recruiters are known for their independence. The typical recruiter is happy to work primarily from their home offices, but on-site visits are inevitable. Brainstorming sessions, sourcing ideas, and client updates may require face-to-face meetings, in addition to interviewing candidates at the office. Initially, a weekly on-site visit with the contract recruiter will help to keep everything on track.
You can later reduce the frequency of the meeting as the recruitment progresses if and when it makes sense. You may face some resistance initially. Contract recruiters prefer to work independently, and your managers are busy. Reiterate the importance of these meetings and schedule them only as necessary. You can leave it up to the recruiter and managers to schedule the frequency of the sessions.
Agree on recruitment metrics
Consult with the contract recruiter about which metrics you will be tracking. Involve your managers and stakeholders when coming up with essential recruiting metrics. Basic recruitment success measures may include:
- Number of job ads per position
- Number of cold calls made for each position
- Number of CVs reviewed for each position
- Number of telephone screens per position
- Number of interviews scheduled
- Number of interviews conducted
- Number of offers
- Number of rejections and acceptances
Discuss with the contract recruiter how often they’ll report on these measures. Also, arrange the manner and format of reporting on the recruitment process.
Step 6: Follow Up With Recruitment Activities
Much as contract recruiters aren’t your direct employees, there is still a level of follow-up involved in your working relationship. The trick is not to cross the line to micro-managing. Contract recruiters understand this reality and are happy to collaborate with you.
The same goes for recruiting agencies. They want to collaborate with you and need your feedback to know they are sending over the right candidates or where to pivot if they aren’t.
Provide continuing feedback
Most recruiters want to know how well they are doing and if they are meeting your expectations. Continuing feedback about what’s working and what could be adjusted will be great for your working relationship. This feedback goes both ways. Contract recruiters also have their own ideas for recruiting, interviewing, and selecting new hires. Tap into their experience and expertise to streamline your hiring process.
Setting regular feedback sessions will help to spot mistakes early enough in the recruitment process. These sessions don’t have to be face-to-face. A quick call or email should suffice in most cases. You can schedule in-person meetings any serious concerns.
Feedback isn’t just about the recruiter. Make sure you are giving feedback on resumes and candidates you receive from them. If the candidates are not the right fit for the open position, give immediate feedback of why they weren’t a good fit and where to focus (skills, experience, personality, etc.) for better suited candidates. This feedback is invaluable and saves all parties time.
Offer a helping hand
Your recruiters need to understand your organization’s mission, values, and company culture ro have a complete picture of your company. But it is inevitable that they won’t know everything from your initial conversations.
For example, the contractor may not be familiar with your company’s managerial style, goals, or business units. Be ready to offer a helping hand or direction where asked. This is where a go-to point of contact comes in handy to answer any questions that may arise.
With a clearly defined scope of work, the contract recruiter’s job is crystal clear. However, issues like office politics, unexpected interruptions to recruiting, and sudden changes in priorities come up. Keep the recruiter and other interested parties in the loop in case of any roadblocks in the process. Also, work proactively to remove any hurdles that might make the recruitment process harder or more complex than it needs to be.