Is it fact or fiction that external recruiters are losing their value due to the growing competition of social media, job boards, and internal recruiting teams? Both internal and external recruiting has evolved, due to the impact of technology. Candidate expectations and demands have increased in this candidate-driven job market.


Does this predict the demise of the third-party recruiter? Most Staffing and Recruiting firms are posting consistent growth and strong results, which would indicate the answer to the question is no. The inability to attract top talent to fill requisitions, the retiring baby boomers, global competition for talent, time restraints, and the driving forces behind the new workforce model have all contributed to the need for external recruiters.


When I addressed Talent Acquisition Professionals at a conference sponsored by ERE, most corporate recruiters in the audience were balancing 30+ job requisitions and had limited time, people, and money. External recruiters focus on a lower number of requisitions and often dedicate 100+ hours to each search effort, not a luxury enjoyed by most corporate recruiters. They have also dedicated the time necessary to build extensive networks and relationships with top talent, in today’s highly competitive job market.


It is important to identify the “right” external recruiter who specializes in the areas of your greatest needs, functions as a trusted partner, and can be your eyes and ears in the job market. These recruiters represent the hidden market of candidates, not just the best person who answers a job board or website posting. These are the passive candidates who are not in an active job search but will consider a change if the opportunity presented represents their next logical career move.


External recruiters who specialize in a niche should function as a trusted advisor due to their knowledge and insight into their area of specialization. They have qualified candidates in their network, know compensation levels, understand the career expectations and hot buttons of a candidate they represent and can advise you on the best way to compete for top talent. They can also provide short-term access to key strategic skills which leads us to the discussion of the components of the new workforce model.


Temporary employees and contractors were originally utilized to enable businesses to adjust easily and quickly to workload fluctuations. The most common reasons for hiring a temp or contractor are employee absences, vacation, maternity leave, disability leave, or unexpected departure. Other reasons included special projects, seasonal or peak periods, or employee shortages. If firms were not utilizing this flexible workforce, they were basically over-staffed.


In the new workforce model, a company maintains a core of traditional direct-hire employees which are then supported by a larger outer ring of contractors. The direct-hire employees make up the core and are key personnel who are vital to the stability and growth of the business. They have experience and longevity that often can make or break the business. High turnover in this core could be very detrimental to the business.

US News and World Report describe: “the contractors in the outer ring as knowledge workers. Their work is no less important as they are often responsible for the day to day tasks and critical projects, but turnover in this ring is not as disruptive as it would be within the core group. According to CareerBuilder, by the year 2020, contractors will comprise almost 50% of the American workforce.


A recent Staffing Industry Statistics report published by the American Staffing Association stated “More than 3 million temporary and contract employees work for America’s staffing companies during an average week. During the course of a year, America’s staffing companies hire more than 14 million temporary and contract employees.” Over 30% of the jobs added to the economy post-recession have been contracted, compared to just 2% pre-recession.


Temporary and Contract employees work in virtually all occupations:

  • 37% Industrial
  • 28% Office Clerical and Administrative
  • 13% Professional and Managerial
  • 13% Engineering, Information Technology, and Scientific
  • 9% Healthcare

The benefits of utilizing a third-party recruiter will differ, based on the needs of each specific company. The services offered by third party recruiters can solve a short-term need, offer access to top talent with specialized skills, or become part of the new blended workforce model that integrates both direct hire and contractors as a deliberate business strategy.


Bottom Line: Hiring Authorities and Talent Acquisition Professionals can benefit from the reach and established networks, of a trusted third-party partner.


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