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Answers to common questions about recruiters and recruiting

As a recruiting firm, we’ve helped a lot of companies find good employees over the years. And, we’ve answered a lot of questions about the personnel business, about the hiring process, and about the search for good people. Following is a collection of our answers to the most common questions. It is intended to serve as a brief guide to help you understand the recruiting process and get the most out of your recruiting efforts. If you have any questions or comments, please give us a call. We’d like to hear from you.

Why should you use a recruiter?

First of all, because the best people aren’t looking for a job; they are already working. These are the proven performers, the top five or ten percent of their profession. They don’t read the “help-wanted” ads, they don’t keep their résumés circulating, and they don’t haunt the employment agencies. If you want to hire these people, you have to find them, because they aren’t looking for you. Identifying and approaching these hidden prospects is not easy, even for the most astute personnel manager, but that’s what trained recruiters do every day. Second, a recruiter can help you avoid mistakes in the hiring process by providing objective analysis of a candidate or by following up on references, and can save you time by screening candidates against your requirements. Finally, a recruiter can preserve your anonymity when it is important to do so.

What does a recruiter do?

A good recruiting firm helps you define your needs and gives you advice on manpower matters. This requires developing an accurate, detailed job description and a compensation package that will attract the sort of employees you need. Recruiters then search for and identify those candidates with the skills, experience, personality, and character that are best suited to your organization. Finally, recruiters present your offer, arrange the interviews, and, if you wish, serve as third-party negotiators for the specific terms and conditions of employment.

When does it make sense to use a recruiter?

When the position you want to fill is important to your company. A recruiter specializes in finding serious, career-minded people, the kind of achievers who aren’t interested in limited or dead-end positions. If the position is relatively unimportant to your company’s future, don’t use a recruiter. Instead, use an employment agency or place your own help-wanted ads.

How much does it cost to use a recruiter?

Nearly all recruiting is performed on a contingency basis: if the recruiter doesn’t complete the assignment to your satisfaction, you don’t pay. If you hire one of the recruiter’s candidates, the usual fee is equal to 30 percent of the new employee’s first-year salary. If unusual expenses are involved, such as travel costs, these may be added to the base fee. Ask your recruiting firm how such expenses will be handled, before the assignment begins.

How is a recruiter different from an employment agency?

The biggest difference is that recruiters work for you; employment agencies work for the job hunters. Also, recruiters specialize in finding people for technical or middle to upper management positions.

What is an executive search firm?

Executive search firms are yet another type of personnel firm. Although they are similar to recruiters, executive search firms generally accept only top-level assignments (chief executive officers or other corporate-level management, for example), and they require a nonrefundable retainer in addition to the placement fee you pay if you hire one of their candidates.

How should you choose a recruiter?

Carefully. A poor recruiter can waste a lot of your time, and a careless recruiter can turn off prospects or reveal confidential information. Remember, your recruiter represents your company in the marketplace. Here’s what to look for in hiring a recruiter:

Experience. How long has the firm been in business? What experience does it offer in recruiting for your specific needs? Ask about their recruiting specialties; most recruiters prefer to recruit candidates from specific disciplines or industries.

References. Look for evidence of successful assignments similar to what you have in mind. A reputable recruiter will readily provide references, and you should always take the time to check them.

Compatibility. Can you work well with the recruiter? This is important because how well you communicate with one another can influence how well—and how quickly—the recruiter can satisfy your needs. Ask who will handle your assignment.

Methods. Some recruiting firms, like Vertex Technology Recruiters, routinely assign a team of recruiters to an assignment to make sure someone is always available to answer your questions and to ensure that progress continues if, for example, one of the recruiters is ill.

Is it important for recruiters to have experience in a particular discipline?

Yes, because they’ll improve your chance of getting good people with the specific experience you need. They can speak the candidates’ language, they’ll understand their accomplishments, they’ll see through their exaggerations, and they’ll make a better impression—all on your behalf. Specific, direct experience within a particular industry also allows recruiters to save time. They more readily understand your job description and what is important to your situation, and they have a better knowledge of where to start looking or, better yet, where not to look.

How can you judge a recruiter’s performance?

If you are unsure about how well a recruiting assignment is going, there are certain indicators that will help you determine whether the recruiter is doing his job. First, look at who’s actually working on the assignment. Are they professional in their day-to-day contact with you? If junior personnel are involved, is there adequate supervision and participation by senior recruiters?

Second, look at the candidates presented to you. Are they well prepared for the interview? Do they meet your specifications for experience and skills? What did the recruiter tell them about the job? About your company? If there are discrepancies between what you’ve told the recruiter and what he’s telling the candidates, call him and find out why.

Third, pay close attention to the progress. If, after 30 to 40 days, you haven’t seen any promising résumés or candidates, and the recruiter doesn’t have a good explanation, you should consider using another recruiter on the assignment.

Should you use more than one recruiter on an assignment?

In general, it is almost always best to establish a good relationship with your recruiters and use them exclusively on assignments, unless they develop a poor performance record. There are risks associated with using two or more recruiters to fill the same position. Before too long, two or more of the recruiters will cross paths in the search for candidates. When prospects hear about the same job from several recruiters, your company may develop a reputation as a “revolving door”, a place where turnover is a problem. Or, your company may become known as one that raids others for all its personnel. There is also the risk that you will scare away the best prospects. Remember, the best people are conscientious; they don’t want to take time off to interview for a job that apparently is being offered to many of their peers. There are stories (sad but true) of telephones ringing one after another in a given department, with each employee being solicited for the same job by different recruiters. Imagine the negative impression this makes on good prospects.

However, there is one situation where it does make sense to use two recruiters: When you want to evaluate a firm you’ve never used, you might want to put them on the same assignment as the recruiter you use regularly.

How many recruiters do you need?

All good recruiting firms have specialties, some more than others. Depending on your needs, you will probably want to work with more than one recruiting firm. Reputable firms will tell you when they are not qualified for a given assignment. Note, however, that this is not the same as using more than one recruiter on a given assignment.

How important is an ongoing relationship with a recruiter?

As important as a good relationship with your banker, attorney, or insurance agent. Good recruiters are particularly valuable if you have fairly frequent hiring needs. If, for example, a recruiter is already familiar with your company, its culture, and its personalities, they will be able to respond much more quickly. Good recruiters also help you keep up with industry trends in compensation, employee benefits, and manpower planning. Finally, like any good business people, recruiters are more likely to give their best clients the best possible service, even on smaller assignments.

Are there any hidden risks to using a recruiter?

Not if you’re dealing with reputable firms. There are no direct financial risks, since recruiters work on a contingency basis. The only real risks are that your company will be misrepresented, thereby offending potential employees (and their employers), or that a poor recruiter will waste your time or be careless with confidential information. It is relatively easy to avoid these problems.

Why should you consider Vertex Technology Recruiters?

For many reasons. First, we have very high standards for performance. We hire only disciplined, self-starting individuals who have a healthy respect for hard work, and we recommend only the best qualified candidates to our clients, who are pleased with our results; almost 70 percent of our work comes from existing accounts. We will be happy to provide references as well as documentation of experience in specific disciplines and positions.

Second, we are a well-established recruiting firm. We have more than 60 recruiting professionals plus support staff, and we belong to the National Association of Personnel Consultants.

Third, we have specific experience in many career disciplines, including:

  • Accounting, financial, and banking
  • Legal—attorneys, administrators, and paralegals
  • Retail real estate and construction
  • Human resources professionals
  • Healthcare management and accounting
  • Engineering—chemical, mechanical, industrial, and electrical
  • Oil and gas—exploration, drilling, and production
  • Technology engineering
  • Information technology
  • Telecommunications—engineers, technicians, and managers
  • Pharmaceutical and biotechnology
  • Technical sales
  • Business communications

Fourth, we usually operate with three-person recruiting teams, designating one recruiter as the principal contact for you. Each team member will have specific experience related to the assignment.

Fifth, our standard fee is between 20 and 30 percent of the candidate’s first-year compensation (extra-ordinary expenses can be extra), and we work on a contingency basis, so you don’t have to pay if we don’t perform.

Finally, we take the recruiting business, our clients’ success, and the future of our company very seriously. Our ongoing strategic planning keeps us focused on our primary goal: