As employers we know that hiring is a risky business. Unfortunately, most candidates don’t come with guarantees.

Successful recruiting is part science and part art. It is the successful marriage of realistic expectations and best matched skills and experiences for both the hiring organization and the candidate. Employees generally don’t come with guarantees and it can be one of the costliest “experiments” a business organization undertakes.

Understanding the nature of the entrepreneurial organization and what it takes for a potential hire to successfully assimilate into this environment is what gives an experienced recruiter a serious edge over other recruiting firms when it comes to finding the right talent to match your needs. When looking at the recruiting company identify if the recruiting function is an integral component of the consulting that the company offers its clientele. Job – shops are just that, they collect résumés and people and turn them over to make money. Successful recruitment companies provide more than employee hiring.

When you are evaluating a firm ask and make sure you are comfortable that they thoroughly research, reference check, interview, and profile any candidate that is presented to you – before you sign an agreement. As a client, you benefit from meeting only qualified, realistic and available candidates who have a clear understanding of your mission and goals, and who have more than a passing interest or a mild curiosity in what you have to offer them.

Evaluate the firm’s longevity and expertise in the marketplace – years in service, executive level experience in corporate business management, finance, and human resources. Does staff have experience beyond the local level and have industry knowledge that includes the major business sectors in your regional economy – construction, retail, hospitality, engineering, energy, recycling, technology, and health care? Does the firm work in both the for-profit and non-profit environments and understand the significant differences in both cultures? Does the firm’s approach involve finding consensus for common goals, providing a full range of feasible options, and being painfully honest about possible outcomes?

All firms charge a commission on successful placement. The range is from 18% – 35% of the total compensation package and any expenses involving advertising and travel time that are negotiated prior to a project commitment.

Oftentimes firms will only work on a retainage basis, charging a non-refundable retainer along with a signed letter of agreement outlining the search assignment will be required prior to project commitment. The full amount of the retainer is deducted from the final non-refundable fee, which is due in full at the date of hire. Other firms work on a contingency basis with the commission paid on hiring of the employee. Some firms offer employee replacement guarantees at no additional cost – others do not. The replacement guarantee can range from 90 days and can increase proportionate to the placement fee up to 365 days.