Why Outside Recruiters Can’t Do Your Retention Handholding For You…

Jessica Lee Jessica Lee, Recruiting, Retention

Recruiting smartly isn’t enough – keeping pipelines robust and using the latest sourcing techniques only makes you an average recruiter. To be a great recruiter, you need to contribute to retention – because how much of a rock star are you if you can close out reqs but your hires only lasts six months before they are running for the door? You’ve got another open req on your hands and an ugly, vicious cycle to deal with. Candidates with the right skill set aren’t enough, which is why I, too, am big on cultural and motivational fit being the focus of interviews and recruiting efforts.

But, in-house recruiters, if retention is really that important to ya, why are you turning to the outside for help with recruiting? I’m not shy about the fact that I only like third party recruiters (3PRs) in very limited circumstances – if I have a covert search to undertake, or maybe the skills I’m looking for are so hard to find. But even then, 3PRs can’t be any more involved in my selection efforts than just getting me resumes, because I just don’t believe they can truly screen cultural and motivational fit. (Read: 3PRs can’t help me with retention! Your view of recruiting is just too different! Good discussion on in-house recruiting versus agency recruiting here.)

Yet 3PRs all around – like the search firms in Workforce’s recent recruiting article – are trying to up their game by being more “retention focused” through stakeholder interviews to assess culture, or by having strong relationships with candidates both before and after the hire. But, let’s be really candid – do any of those activities really give a 3PR bragging rights? And how much can those tactics really clue you into an org’s culture or impact retention?

Let’s play out a scenario to illustrate the point. John is recruited by and placed at your company by a 3PR. Three months into the job, he’s frustrated with how he and his manager communicate, and it’s to the point where he has serious doubts about whether he should stay.  John’s not a happy camper.

Hearken the retention focused 3PR. Would they know whether anyone else is facing the same challenge as John? If so, how are the others dealing with it? What about in the past – have others faced similar issues? What tactics did they employ to better communicate with this manager? Are there some new organizational issues affecting the team/manager/John that are now putting a strain on communication? Or could it be John is the one who is actually challenged in the communication realm? To get to the bottom of the issue, you need to know the organization and people intimately, which is why a 3PR can’t affect retention. To even prevent the issue from happening in the first place, you would have to have known the culture and dynamics pretty darn well and recruited for cultural and motivational fit. And, I’m thoroughly unconvinced you can really know an org and its culture unless you’re in there living and breathing in it.

I’m wary of 3PRs who promise you the moon and stars. There’s only so much they can do to impact retention, and besides – that’s your job as a rock star corporate recruiter. So go on – ask the right questions, make sure the cultural and motivational fit is right and then you’re golden with your hiring. And, as for satisfaction guaranteed of your hires? Blow that 90 days standard satisfaction guarantee that most 3PRs give you out of the water – heck, blow that one year guarantee that DSRB makes in the Workforce article. You’re a great recruiter focused on retention. A one year guarantee is nothing to you.