How to Hire a Recruiter in 6 Steps
This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
Learning how to hire a recruiter for your business is easy. You’ll first need to assess how much hiring you plan to do over the next year (and beyond) and how difficult it may be to find quality candidates for the positions you need to fill. The more employees you need to hire and the more specialized your industry, the more focused you’ll need to be when hiring a recruiter. Once you’ve determined your needs, you’ll create and post your job ad, review and interview candidates, and check references and run background checks before finally making your offer.
Step 1: Determine the Type of Recruiter You Need & Salary
When you hire a recruiter, follow the same simple steps for hiring any employee. Ideally, following this process will be the last time you have to make a hire because your new recruiter will take over from start to finish.
There are several types of employees you can hire: full time, part time, and contractor. The latter could be beneficial for companies that don’t hire frequently. Working with a contractor or staffing agency gives you the flexibility to pay for the services only when you need them. If your company hires regularly, consider hiring a full-time recruiter who can also act as a brand ambassador, keeping your marketing fresh and exciting for candidates.
There are several types of recruiters you could hire. We’re going to focus on general internal recruiters, but the same steps apply to industry-specific recruiters like executive, information technology (IT), management, and sales recruiters, among others.
In this first step, you will also need to determine what you’re going to pay the recruiter. The average recruiter salary is just over $56,000 per year—but recruiters with extensive experience may demand a higher salary plus commission. The more specialized your industry, the more you’ll need to pay to find a recruiter who understands the nuances of hiring workers in your industry. Make sure you do market research to ensure you’re offering a competitive salary.
Compliance Tip: If your business is hiring a recruiter in certain states, you may need to put your target salary range in your public job posting. Check your state laws to see if you need to comply. Verify whether asking about a candidate’s past salary is allowed in your state as well.
HR managers focus on existing employees, whereas recruiters focus on finding new employees. While HR managers may participate in the hiring process, especially interviews, they generally operate more behind the scenes, creating an attractive company culture, administering benefits, and ensuring compliance. Recruiters, conversely, focus on selling your culture and benefits to attract new employees.
Many small businesses have HR managers or other HR staff wearing multiple hats. Especially in small organizations, some are able to handle these distinct responsibilities. Once you get to a certain size, however, it’s best to let people focus on their core duties that best help your company succeed. If an HR manager is busy reviewing and interviewing applicants, they have less time to focus on your existing team and nurturing your company culture.
If you think you will need an HR manager in the near future, use our step-by-step guide to hiring an HR manager to learn how to do it.
Step 2: Write the Job Description
Regardless of the type of recruiter you need to hire, every recruiter should have at least the following skills:
- Excellent communication skills
- Good listening skills
- Flexibility, reliability, and integrity
- Strong writing skills
- Strong networking and relationship building skills
- Ability to quickly assess a candidate’s skills
- Intimate knowledge of the hiring process and market conditions
- Ability to manage expectations
- Excellent time management
These qualifications will help you build your job description by serving as keywords, which will help candidates find your job when searching on job boards. When writing your job description, pay close attention to what exactly you will need your recruiter to do. You may not know precisely what their day-to-day will look like, but giving them a good idea of the tasks you’ll need them to perform and the positions you’ll need them to recruit for will help each candidate know whether they can add value to your company.
Your job description should include selling points on your organization. What makes your business unique? Why would someone want to work for you? What benefits do you offer? Answering these questions gives applicants a better understanding of how your company operates and helps them decide if they are a good cultural match.
Step 3: Post Job Ad & Review Applicants
After you’ve completed your job description, you need to post the job ad. There are many sites where you can do this for free. Check out our top-recommended free job posting sites when you’re ready to start.
Expect to receive applicants on the first day you post your job. The more junior your position, the more likely you are to receive lots of applications. It’s a good idea to create a must-haves list you can reference when looking through candidate resumes. No candidate will perfectly meet the requirements of the role, but you want someone who checks off most of your must-have requirements.
Reviewing each applicant will take some time, but it’s necessary to narrow the candidate pool down. At this stage, we recommend having a list of about a dozen candidates you want to interview. Any more and you’ll end up spending way too much time interviewing unqualified candidates.
Step 4: Conduct Interviews
You could opt to email candidates to schedule an interview, but we recommend calling and speaking with them for a few minutes and asking them a couple of quick phone screen questions. This gives you a chance to gauge their level of interest and see their communication skills without having time to prep.
When you interview applicants, use a structured interview process, which means you ask each candidate the same questions. This ensures a fair approach and lets you evaluate them based on their answers to the same questions.
Here are some sample questions to ask during the interview:
- What is your recruiting process and how has it changed over your career?
- What recruiting statistics do you keep for yourself and why?
- Describe a time when a candidate turned down your offer.
- Pretend I’m a top candidate and you’re calling me for the first time: Pitch our company to me.
- What types of positions do you usually recruit for and what are the salary ranges?
- What do you do when you’re having difficulty filling a position?
- How do you handle difficult hiring managers?
- What’s the biggest challenge you faced in filling a role and how did you overcome it?
By asking these interview questions, you can gain insight into how the recruiter manages the recruiting process and how they may collaborate with your team. In small businesses, the recruiting team is often a single person, but they must work with other departments and hiring managers to understand positions and fill them quickly. It’s important to know that a candidate has the ability to recruit top talent and work well with colleagues.
For more interview questions, use our best interview questions guide.
Step 5: Call References & Run a Background Check
After you’ve completed all the interviews, review your notes and narrow the applicant pool down to three or fewer. Ideally, you’ll have one standout candidate. Ask them for at least three supervisory references and make sure you speak with at least two of them.
Supervisors can give you wonderful insight into how the candidate did their job and what it’s like to manage them. You will have limited time with a reference, so ask pointed questions. Here are some examples:
- Was there a position the candidate was unable to fill? How did they react?
- Could you depend on the candidate to fill your positions with high-quality employees in a timely manner?
- What was the biggest challenge in managing this person?
- Did this person work well under pressure and with other departments?
- Why did the candidate leave your company?
Not every position you hire for will require a background check, but it’s a good idea to run a background check for a recruiter since they may have access to sensitive information about candidates and employees. Before running a background check, you need to get the candidate’s approval. The background check company you partner with can give you a template form to send to the candidate.
Compliance Tip: Check your state laws. Some states require that companies run background checks after a job offer has been accepted.
Step 6: Make an Offer
After completing the above steps, you’ll have a candidate ready to fill your recruiter role. We recommend calling them to give them the good news. In addition to gauging their level of excitement, you can also discuss any final details such as salary and start date. Once you’ve agreed to all terms, write the formal offer letter, making sure to include
- Job title
- Bonus or commission structure, if applicable
- Start date
You should also include the full job description in the offer letter. Having the applicant sign off on their ability to handle the duties of the role lets you hold them accountable if they fail to meet your expectations.
When your offer letter is ready, send it to the candidate and give them at least a few days to review and send it back. You can speed up the process by sending the offer letter via an electronic signature platform. Once they have returned the offer letter to you, begin the onboarding process.
Looking to learn how to hire a recruiter is a sign that your business is thriving. To continue growing your organization, you need someone you can trust to recruit top talent. Following a structured process will ensure you hire the right recruiter to help you meet your goals.